Multisection continuum arms offer complementary characteristics to those of traditional rigid-bodied robots. Inspired by biological appendages, such as elephant trunks and octopus arms, these robots trade rigidity for compliance and accuracy for safety and, therefore, exhibit strong potential for applications in human-occupied spaces. Prior work has demonstrated their superiority in operation in congested spaces and manipulation of irregularly shaped objects. However, they are yet to be widely applied outside laboratory spaces. One key reason is that, due to compliance, they are difficult to control. Sophisticated and numerically efficient dynamic models are a necessity to implement dynamic control. In this paper, we propose a novel numerically stable center-of-gravity-based dynamic model for variable-length multisection continuum arms. The model can accommodate continuum robots having any number of sections with varying physical dimensions. The dynamic algorithm is of O(n2) complexity, runs at 9.5 kHz, simulates six to eight times faster than real time for a three-section continuum robot, and, therefore, is ideally suited for real-time control implementations. The model accuracy is validated numerically against an integral-dynamic model proposed by the authors and experimentally for a three-section pneumatically actuated variable-length multisection continuum arm. This is the first sub-real-time dynamic model based on a smooth continuousmore »
Mechanics for Tendon Actuated Multisection Continuum Arms
Tendon actuated multisection continuum arms have high potential for inspection applications in highly constrained spaces. They generate motion by axial and bending deformations. However, because of the high mechanical coupling between continuum sections, variable length-based kinematic models produce poor results. A new mechanics model for tendon actuated multisection continuum arms is proposed in this paper. The model combines the continuum arm curve parameter kinematics and concentric tube kinematics to correctly account for the large axial and bending deformations observed in the robot. Also, the model is computationally efficient and utilizes tendon tensions as the joint space variables thus eliminating the actuator length related problems such as slack and backlash. A recursive generalization of the model is also presented. Despite the high coupling between continuum sections, numerical results show that the model can be used for generating correct forward and inverse kinematic results. The model is then tested on a thin and long multisection continuum arm. The results show that the model can be used to successfully model the deformation.
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