Abstract

For several decades, the traditional ROV and AUV have been widely used in ocean exploration and subsea operations. Now the marine industry is developing in a more economical and efficient direction. To this end, smaller and lighter bioinspired snake robotics have been applied to ocean engineering. Much of these robots' prototypes take the form of serially jointed-rigid mechanical bodies. The development of soft robotics contributed to a novel type of snake robot made of compliant and structurally deformable modules. Utilizing the controllable large bending deformation, these robots can naturally generate various snake locomotion patterns. In this paper, we design an underwater swimming snake robot composed of rigid links and soft joints and present a complete and accurate kinematic and dynamic model that contains the hydrodynamics to describe the underwater undulatory motions of the robot. Results verify the effectiveness of the model and show that the snake robot has a high potential to be used in marine applications.

Introduction

The utility of robotic underwater vehicles has rapidly increased in the last decades owing to technological innovations that allow these vehicles to operate in abysmal and harsh subsea environments. Nowadays, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are widely used in the marine to perform different challenging tasks, such as inspection, maintenance, and construction, and they are widely used in the subsea oil and gas industry (Abdulshaheed, et al. 2020; Fossen, 2011; Zhou, et al. 2019). Traditional AUVs and ROVs are large, heavy, expensive to operate, and require constant supervision. The time required to mobilize and deploy devices is also quite long. As a result, the industry recognizes the need for lower cost, smaller, and lighter weight underwater vehicles. Inspired by biological swimming organisms in the natural world, underwater snake robots carry the potential to meet the growing demand for robotic mobility in underwater environments. These snake robots have elongated and flexible bodies that allow them to reach and operate in locations that are inaccessible to larger and more traditional underwater vehicles. Simultaneously, a swimming snake robot is essentially a mobile manipulator arm, it carries manipulation capabilities that are an inherent part of its body. Thus, underwater swimming snake robots have the potential to increase the efficiency and mobility of modern underwater vehicles. A particularly relevant application involves the inspection and maintenance of subsea oil and gas facilities, where the ability to reach tight locations between pipeline structures is important. Besides, snake robots that can swim smoothly with limited noise and navigate in difficult environments such as shipwrecks are of great interest to the biological community and marine archaeology (Kelasidi, et al. 2014).

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