Mobility in unstructured environments is a significant challenge for robotic systems; however, there are systems capable of operation in these environments, namely biological systems. Even though technology does not allow for replication, with the correct level of abstraction, these systems can inspire design strategies which can improve the performance of their robotic counterparts.
Major Challenges (small scale robots):
- Energy, actuation, and transmission components are relatively large, heavy, and inefficient.
- Obstacle size is comparable to that of the robot requiring significant variation in locomotion modes.
- Unstructured environments require highly adaptable modes.
Goal: To identify, analyze, and develop integration strategies for the combination of high-performance locomotion modes as well as the key components within these strategies.
Approach: Analyze biological systems which demonstrate not only the desired locomotion modes but also significant levels of integration between the modes. The integration concepts are then abstracted from the organism and applied to the development of a robotic system.
Benefits: Employing multiple locomotion strategies can significantly improve the mobility of systems operating in unstructured terrain. By utilizing an integrated approach for the addition of locomotion modes, the performance of individual modes can be preserved while reducing the additional structure and actuation required, therefore, improving overall system performance.