Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Dr. Ian D. Walker
Dr. Timothy C. Burg
Dr. Richard E. Groff
Design of continuum robots, i.e. robots with continuous backbones, has been an active area of research in robotics for minimally invasive surgery, search and rescue, object manipulation, etc. Along the same lines, NASA developed "Tendril", the first long and thin continuum robot of its kind, intended for in-space inspection applications.
The thesis starts with describing and discussing the key disadvantages of the current state of the art mechanical design of "Tendril'' producing undesirable effects during operation. It then includes the design specifics of a novel concept for construction of a next generation long and thin, space-cable, multi-section, continuum cable-like robot, with a modified mechanical design for better performance. The new design possesses key features including controllable bending along its entire length, local compression and a compact actuation package. This new design is detailed in two versions. The first is a planar variant (suited for a 2D workspace), explaining the principle which allows the cable robot to achieve the above mentioned features. It is followed by a refined spatial version (suited for 3D workspace), where the functional characteristics are achieved within the desired aspect ratio of thin (less than 1 cm diameter) and relatively longer length (more than 100 cm) of the robotic cable.
A new forward kinematic model is then developed extending the established models for constant-curvature continuum robots, to account for the new design feature of controllable compression (in the hardware) and is validated by performing experiments with the robot in (2D) planar and (3D) spatial scenarios. This new model is found to be effective as a baseline to predict the performance of such a long and thin continuum "cable'' robot.
Tonapi, Manas Milind, "Space-Capable Long and Thin Continuum Robotic Cable" (2014). All Theses. 2018.