Locomotion efficiency optimization of biologically inspired snake robots
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Snake robots constitute bio-inspired solutions that have been studied due to their ability to move in challenging environments where other types of robots, such as wheeled or legged robots, usually fail. In this paper, we consider both land-based and swimming snake robots. One of the principal concerns of the bio-inspired snake robots is to increase the motion efficiency in terms of the forward speed by improving the locomotion methods. Furthermore, energy efficiency becomes a crucial challenge for this type of robots due to the importance of long-term autonomy of these systems. In this paper, we take into account both the minimization of the power consumption and the maximization of the achieved forward velocity in order to investigate the optimal gait parameters for bio-inspired snake robots using lateral undulation and eel-like motion patterns. We furthermore consider possible negative work effects in the calculation of average power consumption of underwater snake robots. To solve the multi-objective optimization problem, we propose transforming the two objective functions into a single one using a weighted-sum method. For different set of weight factors, Particle Swarm Optimization is applied and a set of optimal points is consequently obtained. Pareto fronts or trade-off curves are illustrated for both land-based and swimming snake robots with different numbers of links. Pareto fronts represent trade-offs between the objective functions. For example, how increasing the forward velocity results in increasing power consumption. Therefore, these curves are a very useful tool for the control and design of snake robots. The trade-off curve thus constitutes a very useful tool for both the control and design of bio-inspired snake robots. In particular, the operators or designers of bio-inspired snake robots can choose a Pareto optimal point based on the trade-off curve, given the preferred number of links on the robot. The optimal gait parameters for the robot control system design are then directly given both for land-based and underwater snake robots. Moreover, we are able to obtain some observations about the optimal values of the gait parameters, which provide very important insights for future control design of bio-inspired snake robots.