Motion planning for tree climbing with inchworm-like robots



This paper proposes a global path- and motion-planning algorithm that enables inchworm-like robots to navigate their way up tree branches. The intuitive climbing space representation method proposed here greatly simplifies the path-planning problem. The dynamic programming algorithm can be used to identify the optimal path leading to the target position in the target direction according to the constraints and requirements specified. The planned path can be applied in any tree-climbing robot that utilizes the nonenclosure gripping method. An efficient motion-planning algorithm for continuum inchworm-like robots is then developed to enable them to climb along the planned path with a high degree of accuracy. In comparison with the method proposed in our previous study, the method proposed herein significantly improves consistency between the planned path and the motions of the robot, and therefore makes it more practical to implement the motion-planning algorithm in trees of different shapes. The paper also describes hardware experiments in which the proposed planning algorithm is applied to enable inchworm-like robots to climb real trees, thus validating the proposed planning algorithm in practice. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.