Soft eversion robots are soft snake-like robots that can grow as a vine does. They can be used for access to restricted environments like nuclear sites or narrow spaces.
I took part in successful delivery of two eversion robot related Innovate UK projects, GrowBot (96566) and LianaBot (89911).
Attaching a tip mount to such robots is a difficult task. The material at the tip of the growing robot is always changing due to eversion principle. The material once was on the tip will be on the body of the robot with the forward movement of the robot. For the payload to always stay on the tip we came up with an innovative idea: "Soft Cap". The soft cap can engulf the eversion robot from the tip, and using the friction force as its advantage can stay at the tip of the robot as it everts. Please see the schematic explanation of the cap on the right.
Qualities of the Soft Cap
Thanks to its unique soft structure, the soft cap enables full potential of the vine robot. This soft cap allows attaching a payload to an eversion robot while allowing moving through narrow openings, as well as the eversion of protruding objects, and expanded surfaces. Please check the video on the left to see a soft cap attached eversion robot with a camera everting though some challenges.
A vine robot with a soft cap attached on it can equip a camera and squeeze through narrow openings.
Everts Protruding Objects
Protruding objects like sensors or pneumatic connectors can squeeze through the cap without jamming.
The soft cap does not hinder tip mobility of the vine robot.