Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 March 2018
This paper presents the design, analysis and experimentation of a Discrete Modular Serpentine Tail (DMST). The mechanism is envisioned for use as a robotic tail integrated onto mobile legged robots to provide a means, separate from the legs, to aid stabilization and maneuvering for both static and dynamic applications. The DMST is a modular two-degree-of-freedom (DOF) articulated, under-actuated mechanism, inspired by continuum and serpentine robotic structures. It is constructed from rigid links with cylindrical contoured grooves that act as pulleys to route and maintain equal displacements in antagonistic cable pairs that are connected to a multi-diameter pulley. Spatial tail curvatures are produced by adding a roll-DOF to rotate the bending plane of the planar tail curvatures. Kinematic and dynamic models of the cable-driven mechanism are developed to analyze the impact of trajectory and design parameters on the loading profiles transferred through the tail base. Experiments using a prototype are performed to validate the forward kinematic and dynamic models, determine the mechanism's accuracy and repeatability, and measure the mechanism's ability to generate inertial loading.