In the narrow and irregular environment of the ruins, the existing rescue robots are struggling to achieve their performance. Inspired by the process of termite predation by giant anteaters, we propose a soft rescue robot that utilizes motion propulsion similar to gear meshing and the adaptability of a continuum manipulator. The robot, consisting of a soft continuum manipulator and driving equipment, has the characteristics of fast propulsion and adaptation to unstructured environments. The driving device can give the manipulator a maximum speed of 14.67 cm/s and a propulsive force of 19.20 N. With the flexibility of the soft robot, the soft manipulator can adapt to the environment under propulsion to pass obstacles. The experiments of self-adaptability performance tests under different conditions show that the robot can pass over obstacles with an angle of up to 80.57 deg between its axis and the contact surface. In the actual ruin experiment, the robot could penetrate 1.3 m deep in the narrow passage formed by the bricks with the mode. The experiment indicates the presented rescue robot design’s feasibility. Our work could contribute to the research on the interaction of soft robots with their environment.
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics Open Issues