A snake robot is a type of highly redundant mobile robot that significantly differs from a tracked robot, wheeled robot and legged robot. To address the issue of a snake robot performing self-localization in the application environment without assistant orientation, an autonomous navigation method is proposed based on the snake robot’s motion characteristic constraints. The method realized the autonomous navigation of the snake robot with non-nodes and an external assistant using its own Micro-Electromechanical-Systems (MEMS) Inertial-Measurement-Unit (IMU). First, it studies the snake robot’s motion characteristics, builds the kinematics model, and then analyses the motion constraint characteristics and motion error propagation properties. Second, it explores the snake robot’s navigation layout, proposes a constraint criterion and the fixed relationship, and makes zero-state constraints based on the motion features and control modes of a snake robot. Finally, it realizes autonomous navigation positioning based on the Extended-Kalman-Filter (EKF) position estimation method under the constraints of its motion characteristics. With the self-developed snake robot, the test verifies the proposed method, and the position error is less than 5% of Total-Traveled-Distance (TDD). In a short-distance environment, this method is able to meet the requirements of a snake robot in order to perform autonomous navigation and positioning in traditional applications and can be extended to other familiar multi-link robots.
Zhao, X., Dou, L., Su, Z., & Liu, N. (2018). Study of the navigation method for a snake robot based on the kinematics model with MEMS IMU. Sensors (Switzerland), 18(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/s18030879