Motoyasu Tanaka and his University of Electrocommunications research team based in Tokyo, Japan have developed a snake-like articulated robot that can move through narrow spaces and climb obstacles for search and rescue missions on disaster sites. This was difficult to achieve at first due to the amount of actuators in the system, but with the addition of three-dimensional steering, researchers are able to navigate the T2 Snake-3 a bit more precisely and easily than before.


The snake robot has 30 actuators that help it to traverse on uneven surfaces. The objective of the robot is to aid in disaster relief. (Image Credit: University of Electro-Communications)


With three-dimensional steering, the robot is able to traverse on the surrounding terrain by relaxing its joints and moving forward. The operator will then be able to control and move the robot on uneven surfaces. While it climbs upstairs, the motion of the robot is shifted autonomously from head to tail just at the right time due to the data collected by sensors attached to the bottom of the robot. The sensors are responsible for triggering each motion. 


The robot is also capable of manipulating an object by controlling the position and orientation of the gripper mounted onto its head, which is controlled by maintaining the correct posture from autonomously selecting the allocation of the lifted/grounded wheels. Even though the snake-like robot has 30 actuators, these tasks can be operated wirelessly through a gamepad controller.


Using those methods, the robot was able to climb upstairs, traverse through narrow spaces, climb a meter high step, and it could even rotate valves. The robot was controlled with ease for disaster response and equipment inspection. 



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