Wave Robots Crawling on Compliant Surfaces – Modeling, Simulation and Experiments

Dan Shachaf
PhD student
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Lab webpage: https://designandrobotics.weebly.com

In the past few years, we designed several types of wave-like robots which proved highly capable of crawling over rigid and compliant surfaces and a variety of terrains. In this work we present an analysis of a wave-liked robots’ locomotion while crawling over and between flexible surfaces, demonstrating our new designing approach, where we can virtually simulate the wave robot’s locomotion and optimize its geometric parameters for better performance, in a much faster and easier process. To simulate the wave robots’ locomotion, we developed a 2D multibody numerical simulation that can simulate various kinds of wave robots and examine the effect of many different parameters on the robot’s behavior. For example, the geometric dimensions of the robot, its links and helix size, its mass, and the number of links.
We examined the simulation accuracy by performing a series of experiments where wave robots crawled over and between newly developed purpose-built highly flexible surfaces. To accurately simulate the flexible surface, we measured its stiffness in the tangential and normal direction, and its coefficient of friction (COF) and inserted their values into the simulation. The experiments’ results present a good correlation between the simulation and the robot performance along a range of inclines values and at different speeds; As such, the simulation now can be used to properly model the robot’s locomotion, determine the conditions of advancing over flexible slippery surfaces, and optimize characteristics to improve its crawling performance and reduce its energy consumption.

Dan Shachaf is a PhD student in the department of Mechanical Engineering at Ben Gurion University. He conducts his research in the Bioinspired and Medical Robotics Laboratory, where he specializes in wave robots. His current research focuses on developing a simulation to evaluate the performance of wave-like robots crawling on and between compliant surfaces. This involves designing and optimizing the simulation to accurately mimic the robot’s behavior under various conditions and assess its ability to navigate such environments. This work is intended to improve the design of wave robots and to better adjust their characteristics for specific missions.