COCrIP: Compliant OmniCrawler In-pipeline Robot

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This paper presents a modular in-pipeline climb- ing robot with a novel compliant foldable OmniCrawler mech- anism. The robot has a series of 3 compliant foldable Omni- Crawler modules interconnected by links via passive joints. The circular cross-section of the module enables a holonomic motion to facilitate the alignment of the robot in the direction of bends. Additionally, the crawler mechanism provides a fair amount of traction, even on slippery pipe surfaces. These advantages of crawler modules have been further augmented by incorporating active compliance in the module, which helps to negotiate sharp bends in small diameter pipes. Introducing compliance in the crawler module with a single chain-lugs assembly is the the key novelty of this design. For the desirable pipe diameter and curvature of the bends, the spring stiffness value for each passive joint is determined by formulating a constrained optimization problem using the quasi-static model of the robot. Moreover, a minimum friction coefficient value between the module-pipe surface which can be vertically climbed by the robot without slipping is estimated. The numerical simulation results have further been validated by experiments on real robot prototype.


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