A novel constrained tendon-driven serpentine manipulator

Abstract

In this paper, a novel constrained tendon-driven serpentine manipulator (CTSM) suited for minimally invasive surgery is presented. It comprises a flexible backbone, a set of controlling tendons and a constraint. In the CTSM not only the curvature of the bending section can be controlled but also the length. Specifically, the curvature is controlled by the tendons, and the length is controlled by a constraint tube, which is translational and is concentric with the flexible backbone. The kinematic model of the CTSM is developed based on the piecewise constant curvature assumption. An analysis shows that by introducing the translational constraint both the workspace and dexterity of the manipulator are improved. The stiffer the constraint the larger the workspace expansion and the smaller the dexterity enhancement. A prototype is developed and the experimental results validate the design idea and analysis.

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