Published: 30 September 2012

Optimal design and experimental verification of a spherical-wheel composite robot with automatic transformation system

Kang Hou1
Hanxu Sun2
Qingxuan Jia3
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Abstract

This paper presents a design for a dual-mode prototype robot with the advantages of both a spherical robot and wheeled robot. A spherical robot has flexible movement capabilities, and the spherical shell can protect the mechanism and electronic devices. A wheeled mobile robot operates at high speed on a flat road. Its simple structure and control system has made it a popular choice in the field of robotics. Our objective was to develop a new concept robot capable of combining two different locomotion mechanisms to increase the locomotion stability and efficiency. The proposed mobile robot prototype was found to be capable and suitable in different situations. The exchange of modes between the spherical and the wheeled robot was realized by a structural change of the robot. The spherical-wheel mobile robot prototype is composed of a deformable spherical shell system, the propulsion system for the sphere and a wheeled mobile unit module. The exchange of locomotion modes was implemented by changing the geometric structure of spherical shell. The mechanical structure of the composite robot is presented in detail as well as the control system including hardware components and the software. The control system allowed for the automatic transformation of the composite robot between either of the locomotion modes. Based on analysis and simulation, the mechanism was optimized in its configuration and dimension to guarantee that robot had a compact structure and high efficiency. Finally, the experimental results of the transformation and motion processes provided dynamic motion parameters and verified the feasibility of the robot prototype.

About this article

Received
02 July 2012
Accepted
04 September 2012
Published
30 September 2012
Keywords
spherical-wheel robot
dual-mode locomotion
simulation and optimization
prototype experiment