Monday, May 23, 2005

UM OmniTread SnakeBot

The Mobile Robotics Lab at the University of Michigan has developed a novel "snakebot" design. Called the OmniTread, it is covered over 80% of its body with treads that allow the robot to conquer obstacles which stymie other machines.

Divided into 5 segments, the snakebot is connected down the center by a long driveshaft which powers the treads. The machine uses bellows in each joint to lift and turn segments. The bellows are capable of providing enough power to lift two segments at once to surmount obstacles.

According to the article, "In one test, the OmniTread climbed an 18-inch curb, which is more than twice its height. It also crossed a 66-centimeter trench, which is half its length. In another test, it inched up a pipe by pushing against opposite walls."