CYCOGS® Hybrid Snake Arms

The CYCOGS® Company wishes to inform our web site visitors, with some valuable AI Robotics information.  Please note, the CYCOGS® Company owns and or controls the copyright of all material in this website.  The content of the “Education” portion of this web site is still under the CYCOGS® Company registered copyright protection.

Obtain some information about Hybrid Snake Arms and the CYCOGS® brand Snarm  -  Snake Arm and Platform.

In Robotics, there are many  mechanical Robotic arms  types and modes of movement. 

For traditional Robotic Arms, many arms are of the  X-Y Gantry  style.  Next in Robot Arm popularity, we have the typical  Industrial Multi-Axis Robot Arms.  The typical Multiaxis Industrial Robot Arms include the more recent style of  Deltoid Robot Arms  making inroads, and then we have the other Robotic Arm types. 

Interesting Robot Arm picture

Industrial Robot Arms  provide a highly repeatable, positional accuracy and high load ratings. 

This is in part due to their rigidity and fixed mountings.  Industrial Robot Arms’  rigidity  possesses advantages for such tasks as precise welding and manufacturing.

In  Mobile Robot  usage, the Robot can be found moving as well as operating off a pliable surface

like padded carpeting.  Soft surfaces will undermine the precise, repeatable positioning capacities of a rigid industrial Robot arm, possibly rendering its use as inaccurate and unnecessary.  For a Mobile Robot, industrial arms are just too large and heavy.

Robot on carpet picture

What is a Robotic Snake Arm?

A  Robotic Snake Arm  is a long, cylindrical-shaped, mechanical Robotic arm comprised of  many segments  on a flexible backbone support. 

The Snake Arm Robot is able to move in ways similar or reminiscent of a snake’s motion or elephant trunk movements. 

A Snakes pictureElephant trunk picture

The snake arm may also be called a flexible tube structure, tensor arm, flexible frame, flexible positioning appendage, flexible body, multi-articulated manipulator, serpentine arm and snaky or snake-like arms.

CYCOGS Snarm internal picture

The  flexible Snake Arm  is a Robotic  "Arm"  utilizing many elements such as movable links, ribs or plates connected in series and moved by a mechanism like wires or cables. 

The Robot arm actuation methods typically employ a  flexible power transmission  ability needed as the arm flexes to create a pivoting motion or action between the elements.  Such interconnecting actuators may include motor driven cables, wires, tendons, and control lines, as well as various electromechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, and mechanical mechanisms like gears, pistons, cams and other actuating systems,

Generally,  each arm element is grouped into a controlled  arm segment,  where that segment as a whole is moved. 

Typically, the distance between two edges of the ribs or plates is changed and when multiplied by many elements, the combined displacements causes the arm to move.  Arm segments can be moved by shortening one side and lengthening the other side of a segment to induce movement.  The arm actuators are typically grouped or segmented to move a subset series of plates or elements.  To move or position an arm, a portion or segment of the arm, such as the first  1/5  segment of the arms actuators are then activated.  This would be followed by a second group of actuators, wires or cables that connect to the next  1/5  segment of the arm, and so on.  One segment typically uses at least four actuators,  one per quadrant,  for such movement directions as Up,  Down,  Right,  and Left. 

Snarm image of internal components

Most conventional  snake arms  are a round tube-like appendage, separately attached to the arms’ actuators and controls. 

The actuators and controls are usually separate from the arm sections to reduce the arm dead weight and to allow more room for the controls.  Consequently, typical snake arms resemble a box with a flexible hose projecting from the middle of one side.

Furthermore,  flexible Snake Arms  may implement various types of joints to maintain a desired shape and alignment, for example, universal joints, springs, ball joints, sockets and elastomers and the like.

Snake arm Robots are typically built with a small outer diameter compared to its overall length,

with each element member of a segment movable in two rotational Degrees of Freedom  (DoF).  If you multiply the number of elements by two, you can get an approximate  cumulative DoF count.  It is routine for the count to reach 20 - 50  DoF.  The large DoF count may also be classified as a  continuum Robot arm,  depending on the spacing and flexibility of each element, and its element to element connection.

Degrees of Freedom with respect to the Snarm

The  snake arm  is capable of moving in translation, rotation, and to move in a spiral or coil like fashion, as well as to move left, right, up, or down by using the CYCOGS® rotary platform and the "snake" robot arm. 

The rotary platform can be rotated in any direction or heading, and is also capable of  continuous  360 - degree rotations.

Snarm Continuous Rotations image

The hybrid Robot snake arm moving to touch the chassis of the Robot.

Snarm touching outside the robot body

The convoluted snake arm can reach any location inside its working envelope. 

The working envelope typically is a circular light bulb or tear drop shape, as the arms can flex in any direction.  Some  dead spots  will occur at the conventional snakes’ arm’s minimum bend radius zones.  Some  dead zone coverage  is possible if the arm is long enough to curl around itself.

Snake Arm ring type extension

Previous snake arm designs do not address the  Mobile Robot  requirements of  compact arm storage. 

A massive working area and the ability to produce 360 degrees of rotational freedom for arm tasks while mounted in a Robot.  To expand this working envelope, the whole flexible snake arm system would need to be reoriented.

Conventional Robot Arm located outside image

The CYCOGS® Company developed a  rotating platform  for mounting and integrating the Snake Arm.  By locating the Snake Arm on this rotary platform, the working envelope is vastly expanded. 

Furthermore, the snake arms actuators and controls can be located and integrated on this rotating platform.  The CYCOGS® Company platform for the snake robot arm for Mobile Robots can provide 360 degrees of continuous platform rotation for rotating one or more arms about a central axis with no arm obstructions.  The arm’s platform can rotate in any direction, system speed or acceleration.  This hybrid system additionally allows stationary arm positioning coupled with the robot platform rotations.  If the Robot body rotates, the arms can follow the work in progress with access to all areas around the Robot in its  available work envelope.  Furthermore, the platform facilitates  arm storage  where the Robot snake arm can curl around the platform for a  compact storage mode,  within the boundaries of a circular Robot.   The CYCOGS® Company named the  intelligent advanced hybrid snake arm and platform,  the  “ Snarm.

Snake Arm extened outside a robot

The CYCOGS® companies   advanced intelligent hybrid Robotic Snake Arm and rotary platform system  (Snarm)  integrated the snake arm and platform into a unique system. 

The Snake Arm is attached to the computer-controlled rotary platform, allowing the snake arm orientation to be rotated at any speed, direction or acceleration the system is capable of reaching.  This provides an expanded movement space, called the working envelope.  The envelope expansion is accomplished, by attaching a snake arm robot tangentially, or located near the outer circumference to the rotatable platform.

SNarm 360 degree working envelope image

The Snarm hybrid Robot snake arm and platform, showing possible elevation movements and the spherical or donut-like works space or envelope of a Mobile Robot.

Arm vertical extension reach image

A compliant or  "springy"  Robot arm is preferred when operating in such environments near humans. 

The CYCOGS® Company advanced intelligent hybrid Snake Arm and Platform Robot system  (Snarm)  solves the storage, working envelope, obstacle avoidance and compliance issues.  The Snarm can navigate or flow around obstacles and is compliant for use around humans and other animals.  The compliance feature allows the arm to operate with more safely.  Collisions  with objects are minimized and are softened by  "giving"  upon contact.  This feature is sometimes considered, "compliant behavior."   Maximum force may not be exerted immediately, giving the arm controls time to react to unexpected events. 

This illustration on the left shows the CYCOGS® Company hybrid Robot snake arm and platform (Snarm) parked, fully retracted and coiled up at  zero degrees.  The snake arm and platform are then shown fully extended in  tangential extension  on the right.

Snake Arm tangent extension image

This illustration shows the Snarm beginning to uncoil.  The middle illustration shows the platform with the snake arm partially uncoiled.  And on the right is the snake arm and platform partially  uncoiled in extension  with an end effector clear of the chassis;

Snake Arm un-coil extension image

This illustration on the left  shows the Snarm snake arm and platform with a bump or loop arm extension.

Snake Arm bump extension image

The middle  illustration shows the Snarm in a loop or hook position.

Snake Arm ring extension image

The right  illustration shows a maximum arm extension example.

Snake Arm Maximum Reach image

This illustration shows a Mobile Robot employing two of the hybrid Robot snake arm platforms being used in a  medical or nursing  type application for such tasks as  lifting and moving patients  or equipment. 

The snake arms can pick up a patient and transfer the patient from a bed onto a gurney.  In addition, the snake arms can ease nurse workloads and perform some  patient repetitive physical therapy.  The bump or loop arm extension can additionally be used to carry a box or an injured patient.  A Mobile Robot so equipped can act as a  nurse’s assistant

SNarm Patient Lift image

The combination of the CYCOGS® Company Snarm’s snake arm and the rotary platform offers a potentially unlimited variety of curves, positions and orientation combinations as well as end effector positioning options.

This illustration shows the  working envelope  of a Mobile Robot with a  Snarm  hybrid snake arm. 

The Snarm snake arm is capable of performing work within the  donut-shaped or spherical working envelope  region  located concentrically   about the Robot or platform axis.  The snake arm is equally able to traverse a  convoluted path,  such as flowing around obstacles to place the end effector at a given location.  The snake arm rotary platform can cooperate as the snake arm extends, like from the circular coiled storage position.  One type of extension of the snake arm represents a  tangential translating arm extension,  operating much like extending a retractable tape measure.

SNarm Spherical working envelope image

To perform the CYCOGS® Company Snarm  tangential translating arm extension,  from the stored position, the snake arm first straightens out the end segment in an uncurling fashion. 

Then the snake arm and the rotary platform work together, to match  the uncurling rate  of the snake arm with the rotary rotation rate of the rotary platform to produce a  linear extension  of the snake arm until the snake arm fully extended.  The snake arm can be retracted by performing the identical procedure in reverse.  With this type of operation, the snake arm can be extended just enough to carry out the required work.

Snake Arm tangent extension with Platform rotation image

Another type of CYCOGS® brand Snarm extension is  uncoiling  from the circular coiled storage position. 

This caused the Snarm to uncoil the snake arm in a spiral like extension, basically an  expanding swinging arc.  The rotary platform does not need to rotate.  The Snarm uncoiling operations occur as the coiled snake arm starts to move outward.  The individual arm segments can all act at the same time to perform the uncoiling operation.  The snake arm is uncoiled and extended from the rotary platform past the outer robot body.  The rotation of the rotary platform is not required, but may be implemented as an arm navigation aid to thread the snake arm around an obstacle.

Snake Arm Spiral extension image

Another type of the CYCOGS® brand Snarm arm extension is from the circular coiled storage position, where the snake arm can extend a segment outside the boundaries of the Robot or platform, like a bump or loop. 

The  bump or loop arm extension  can be used to carry a box or an injured patient.  Noted on the illustration below, left side.

Snake Arm bump extension image

In addition, the arm segments can  move objects by pushing  on them, much like we humans use our elbows to push open a door with our hands full.

The CYCOGS® brand Snarm end effector capable of performing  automated tool or sensor changes. 

For example, if such tools are located within its working area or in the robot’s body, the arm can reach and exchange end effector components.  End effectors  like claws, hands, etc. can be positioned in the large volume of the  workspace envelope.  Several companies manufacture Robot arm end effectors such as, for example, claws, pinchers and hands.  Automated end effector  changing systems allowing the end effector to exchange, for example, a claw for a hand.  Some tasks will require different mated end effector appendages, like a brush for painting, or a gripper to open a door.  The ability to adapt end effector tooling and sensors are enhanced with the combination of the snake arm rotary platform.  The expanded work envelope allows more access to  tools and sensor storage  locations.  Such storage locations can be located within or on the body of the robot or external to the robot, in various locations like a tool crib.  Such exchangeable tools and sensors may include claws, pinchers, hooks, hands, drills, brushes, rollers, cameras, laser scanners, etc.  The robot arm end effector can employ a camera embedded inside the snake arm for aligning and coupling with various tools and sensors as well as for guiding the installed tool to its task.  Numerous tasks will require the ability for the arm end effector to change its tooling and sensors.

SNarm Platform end effector image

The typical snake arm or even a typical industrial Robot arm, when used with the rotary platform may require a  "skin." 

Such a  "robotic skin"  may be fashioned out of a flexible material and may include such features as a stiffener for the Robot arm, a sensor and control network and compliant padding.  The compliant padding minimizes any point sources of pressure from mechanical contact, which is useful for tasks such as, for example, carrying a dog or lifting an injured patient.  The CYCOGS® brand Snarm skin can be equipped and operated as a  flexible sensor network  for detecting contact with another object, such as with a force or weight detector,  tactile sensors  and  hair like sensors.  These sensors enhance movements of the snake arm in close proximity to objects without substantial physical contact.

Snake entangled pictureCYCOGS Snake Arm dual presentation picture

Such multiple Snarm hybrid robot arm systems can be configured in a stacked configuration, a back-to-back configuration.

The CYCOGS® brand Snarm hybrid Robot arm system can  track  with a modular sensor ring  (shown in Red)  as it rotates around the Robot’s body while sharing the sensor ring's data between the primary computer and other subsystems to plan and perform work with the Snarm snake arms.

The CYCOGS® Company developed the rotary arm platform to enable advanced snake arm Robotic movements and capabilities for our Mobile Robots.

For further details on the CYCOGS® brand Snarm,   please see the Snarm product page here.

For a story about the CYCOGS® brand Snarm,   CYCOGS please see its story here.

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