Friday, May 27, 2005

OCRobotics Snake-Arm

English company OCRobotics markets a snake-arm robot useful for remotely accessing tight spaces where control and maneuverability are critical.

The arm was used in 2003 to repair a damaged pipe in reactor in Sweden which was otherwise inaccessible.

The arm has also be wed to a mobile platform for use in remote inspection and defense work for the UK Ministry of Defense.

The tentacle like design is controlled via cables running back to motors which allow for fine control of the individual segments. The arms can be controlled using a variety of modes. Joystick control using tip mounted cameras allows remote operators to guide the arm to its target without worrying about movement of the individual segments. Path following or 'nose-following' means that each segment will follow the motion of the tip. A Cartesian mode allows the operator to specify where relative to the base they want the tip to be located.

The accuracy of the control is impressive with a 60mm diameter arm under joystick control having a spatial resolution of better than 50 microns, capable of tracking lines in space. That precise motion can be achieved even while carrying a 10kg payload.

The design of the arm is inherently modular allowing for easy interchange of end effectors and mounting to the drive unit to a variety of different bases.

Videos of the arm in operation are available on the site.

Via RoboticsDaily