Augmenting Snake-like Robot Mobility with Screw Propulsion

Jason Lim
Master student
University of California San Diego, USA

Snake-like robots have been shown to provide some key advantages over traditional robot locomotion methods for exploratory and search & rescue applications. Hyper-redundant kinematic chains allow them a versatility of motion adept for navigating obstacles, and their small cross section enables them to fit through tight spaces. The most practical snake-like robot designs utilize active skins so that propulsion can be generated regardless of orientation and body shape. We present a study into a novel active skin using Archimedes screws that can be used for increasing the capabilities of a snake-like robot. Screws can produce propulsion in a variety of environments including fluids and granular media which make them very useful for multi-domain mobile robots; however, unlike other forms of locomotion, there is limited exploration of the models, parameter effects, and efficiency for multi-terrain Archimedes screw locomotion. We present work towards this missing component in understanding screw-based locomotion: comprehensive experimental results and performance analysis across different media. We designed a mobile test bed for indoor and outdoor experimentation to collect this data. Beyond quantitatively showing the multi-domain mobility of screw-based locomotion, our results provide a first step towards realizing the potential of using screw-based locomotion to augment the capabilities of snake-like robots.

Jason grew up in Reno, Nevada. He studied Engineering Physics at the University of Nevada, Reno, and recently obtained his MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California San Diego. He has a passion for physics and robotics/AI, and through several research projects has gained a special interest in bioinspired robotics, especially snake-like robots. Outside of his academic work, he enjoy hiking, snowboarding, playing the piano, and reading.