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A nonsmooth (hybrid) 3-D mathematical model of a snake robot (without wheels) is developed and experimentally validated in this paper. The model is based on the framework of nonsmooth dynamics and convex analysis that allows us to easily and systematically incorporate unilateral contact forces (i.e., between the snake robot and the ground surface) and friction forces based on Coulomb's law of dry friction. Conventional numerical solvers cannot be employed directly due to set-valued force laws and possible instantaneous velocity changes. Therefore, we show how to implement the model for numerical treatment with a numerical integrator called the time-stepping method. This method helps to avoid explicit changes between equations during simulation even though the system is hybrid. Simulation results for the serpentine motion pattern lateral undulation and sidewinding are presented. In addition, experiments are performed with the snake robot ldquoAikordquo for locomotion by lateral undulation and sidewinding, both with isotropic friction. For these cases, back-to-back comparisons between numerical results and experimental results are given.
Date of Publication: April 2008