The First IEEE/RAS-EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics, 2006. BioRob 2006.
Current work at NASA's Johnson Space Center is focusing on the identification and design of novel robotic archetypes to fill roles complimentary to current space robots during in-space assembly and maintenance tasks. Tendril, NASA's latest robot designed for minimally invasive inspection, is one system born of this effort. Inspired by the biology of snakes, tentacles, and climbing plants, the Tendril robot is a long slender manipulator that can extend deep into crevasses and under thermal blankets to inspect areas largely inaccessible by conventional means. The design of the Tendril, with its multiple bending segments and 1 cm diameter, also serves as an initial step in exploring the whole body control known to continuum robots coupled with the small scale and dexterity found in medical and commercial minimally invasive devices. An overview of Tendril's design is presented along with preliminary results from testing that seeks to improve Tendril's performance through an iterative design process