FAS -- A Fully Actuated Segment for Tendon-Driven Continuum Robots

Grassmann, Reinhard M; Rao, Priyanka; Peyron, Quentin; Burgner-Kahrs, Jessica
Frontiers in Robotics and AI, (in press), 2022
FAS -- A Fully Actuated Segment for Tendon-Driven Continuum Robots


We propose a segment design that combines two distinct characteristics of tendon-driven continuum robots, i.e. variable length and non-straight tendon routing, into a single segment by enabling rotation of its backbone. As a result, this segment can vary its helical tendon routing and has four degrees-of-freedom, while maintaining a small-scale design with an overall outer diameter of 7 mm thanks to an extrinsic actuation principle. In simulation and on prototypes, we observe improved motion capabilities, as evidenced by position redundancy and follow-the-leader deployment along spatially tortuous paths. To demonstrate the latter on a physical prototype, a simple, yet effective area-based error measure for follow-the-leader deployment is proposed to evaluate the performance. Furthermore, we derive a static model which is used to underpin the observed motion capabilities. In summary, our segment design extends previous designs with minimal hardware overhead, while either archiving similar accuracy in position errors and planar follow-the-leader deployment, or exhibiting superior motion capabilities due to position redundancy and spatial follow-the-leader deployment.

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