Based on observations from nature, tails are believed to help animals achieve highly agile motions. Traditional single-link robotic tails serve as a good simplification for both modeling and implementation purposes. However, this approach cannot explain the complicated tail behaviors exhibited in nature where multi-link structures are more commonly observed. Unlike its single-link counterpart, articulated multi-link tails essentially belong to the serial manipulator family which possesses special transmission design challenges. To address this challenge, a cable driven hyper-redundant design becomes the most used approach. Limited by cable strength and elastic components, this approach suffers from low frequency responses, inadequate generated inertial loading, and fragile hardware, which are all critical drawbacks for robotic tails design. To solve these structure related shortcomings, a multi-link robotic tail made up of rigid links is proposed in this paper. The new structure takes advantage of the traditional hybrid mechanism architecture, but utilizes rigid mechanisms to couple the motions between ith link and i + 1th link rather than using cable actuation. By doing so, the overall tail becomes a rigid mechanism which achieves quasi-uniform spatial bending for each segment and allows performing highly dynamic motions. The mechanism and detailed design for this new tail are synthesized. The kinematic model was developed and an optimization process was conducted to minimize the bending non-uniformity for the rigid tail.

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