Alexander S. Boxerbaum, Matthew A. Klein, Jeffery E. Kline, Stuart C. Burgess, Roger D. Quinn, Richard Harkins, and Ravi Vaidyanathan
Surf-zone environments represent an extreme challenges to robot operation. A robot that autonomously navigates rocky terrain, constantly changing underwater currents, hard-packed moist sand and loose dry sand characterizing this environment, would have significant utility in a range of defence and civilian missions. The study of animal locomotion mechanisms can elucidate specific movement principles that can be applied to address these demands. In this work, we report on the design and optimization of a biologically inspired amphibious robot for deployment and operation in an ocean beach environment. We specifically report a new design fusing a range of insectinspired passive mechanisms with active autonomous control architectures to seamlessly adapt to and traverse a range of challenging substrates both in and out of the water, and the design and construction of SeaDog, a proof-of-concept amphibious robot built for navigating rocky or sandy beaches and turbulent surf zones. The robot incorporates a layered hull and chassis design that is integrated into a waterproof Explorer Case in order to provide a large, protected payload in an easy-to-carry package. It employs a rugged drivetrain with four wheel-legs and a unique tail design and actuation strategy to aid in climbing, swimming and stabilization. Several modes of terrestrial and aquatic locomotion are suggested and tested versus range of mobility metrics, including data obtained in simulation and hardware testing. A waterproofing strategy is also tested and discussed, providing a foundation for future generations of amphibious mobile robots.
Keywords: biologically inspired robotics, legged vehicles, field robotics, amphibious operation, advanced mobility