Role of Compliance on the Locomotion of a Reconfigurable Modular Snake Robot
This paper presents the results of a study on the effect of in-series compliance on the locomotion of a simulated 8-DoF Lola-OP Modular Snake Robot with added compliant elements. We explore whether there is an optimal stiffness for gait, terrain type, or several gaits and several terrains (i.e. a good “general-purpose” stiffness). Compliance was simulated using ball joints with eight different levels of stiffness. Two snake locomotion gaits (rolling and sidewinding) were tested over flat ground and three different types of rough terrains. We performed grid search and Particle Swarm Optimization to identify the locomotion parameters leading to fast locomotion and analyzed the best candidates in terms of locomotion speed and energy efficiency (cost of transport). Contrary to our expectations, we did not observe a clear trend that would favor the use of compliant elements over rigid structures. For sidewinding, compliant and stiff elements lead to comparable performances. For rolling gait, the general rule seems to be “the stiffer, the better”.