Snake robots are capable of entering narrow spaces and climbing obstacles with their long, thin bodies. Controlling their precise movements is not easy when you are dealing with so many actuators. Motoyasu Tanaka and colleagues at the University of Electrocommunications Tokyo have come up with methods to control snake-like robots for 3-dimensional steering, climbing, and manipulating things.
The T2 Snake-3G comes with a soft gripper attached to its head. It can climb 1m steps. As the researchers explain:
The robot follows the surrounding terrain by relaxing its joints, and then resumes to move from the robot’s posture. The operator can easily control and move the robot on uneven terrain by this method. For climbing stairs, the robot autonomously shifts its motion on stairs from head to tail at the appropriate timing because data of sensors attached to the bottom of the robot are used to trigger the motion. For manipulating an object, the position and orientation of the gripper attached onto the robot’s head is controlled by keeping the appropriate posture by autonomously selecting the allocation of the lifted/grounded wheels.