An extensible continuum manipulator (ECM) has specific advantages over its non-extensible counterparts. For instance, in certain applications, such as minimally invasive surgery or tube inspection, the base motion might be limited or disallowed. The additional extensibility provides the robot with more dexterous manipulation and larger workspace. Existing continuum robot designs achieve extensibility mainly through artificial muscle/pneumatic, extensible backbone, concentric tube, and base extension etc. This paper proposes a new way to achieve this additional motion degree of freedom by taking advantage of the rigid coupling hybrid mechanism concept and a flexible parallel mechanism. More specifically, a rack and pinion set is used to transmit the motion of the i-th subsegment to drive the (i+1)-th subsegment. A six-chain flexible parallel mechanism is used to generate the desired spatial bending and one extension mobility for each subsegment. This way, the new manipulator is able to achieve tail-like spatial bending and worm-like extension at the same time. A proof-of-concept prototype was integrated to verify the mobility of the new mechanism. Corresponding kinematic analyses are conducted to estimate the workspace and the motion non-uniformity.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.