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Title: Variable Topology “Tree-Like” Continuum Robots for Remote Inspection and Cleaning
We discuss a novel variable topology continuum robot designed and constructed under NASA-funded research. The robot features a seven degree of freedom continuous backbone “trunk”, with two pairs of “branches”: two “tendril” effectors and two support “roots”. Each of the pairs of branches can be fully retracted inside the trunk, allowing it to penetrate congested environments as a single slender unit, and subsequently deploy the branches to perform a variety of tasks. The “roots” provide physical support, while the two effectors and trunk tip enable independent but coordinated functionality: sensing (vision) in one tendril, and manipulation at two scales, via the second tendril and the trunk tip. The specifics of the new design are described and discussed in detail. We illustrate the operation and potential applications of the new design via a series of demonstrations, particularly cleaning of dust from solar panels.
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IEEE Aerospace Conference
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National Science Foundation
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