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Caterpillar-like Robot Climbs and Overcomes Obstacles

Caterpillar-like Robot Climbs and Overcomes Obstacles

February 6, 2020

Robotics & High-Tech

IEEE Spectrum – Prof. David Zarrouk’s lab at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev (BGU) is well known for developing creative, highly mobile robots that use a minimal number of actuators –the component of a machine that is responsible for moving and controlling a mechanism or system.

Prof. David Zarrouk
Bio-inspired and Medical Robotics Lab

His team’s latest robot is called the Reconfigurable Continuous Track Robot (RCTR). RCTR changes its entire body shape on a link-by-link basis, using just one extra actuator to build its own track in the air as it advances.

The concept behind this robot is similar to Prof. Zarrouk’s reconfigurable robotic arm, which was released a few years ago. That arm is made up of links that are attached to each other through passive joints, and a robotic module that can travel across the links and adjust the angle of each joint separately to reconfigure the arm.

RCTR takes this idea and flips it around so that instead of an actuator moving along flexible links, the flexible links (the track) move across an actuator.

It’s this ability to lock the links of the track—turning the robot from flexible to stiff—that allows RCTR to lift up and pass over an obstacle. To keep the robot from fighting against its own tracks, the rear of the robot has a passive system that disengages the locking pins on every link to reset the flexibility of the track as it passes over an obstacle.

The researchers are also working on a locomotion planning algorithm for handling a variety of terrain, presumably by working out the best combination of rigid and flexible links to apply to different obstacles.

Read more on the IEEE Spectrum website >>