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Design Innovation Paper

AmBot: A Bio-Inspired Amphibious Robot for Monitoring the Swan-Canning Estuary System

[+] Author and Article Information
Lei Cui

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Curtin University,
Kent Street,
Bentley WA 6102, Australia
e-mail: lei.cui@curtin.edu.au

Paul Cheong

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Curtin University,
Kent Street,
Bentley WA 6102, Australia
e-mail: paulmerril@gmail.com

Ridge Adams

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Curtin University,
Kent Street,
Bentley WA 6102, Australia
e-mail: ridge.adamson@gmail.com

Thomas Johnson

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Curtin University,
Kent Street,
Bentley WA 6102, Australia
e-mail: thomas.johnson@curtin.edu.au

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Innovation and Devices Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received January 12, 2014; final manuscript received July 5, 2014; published online October 8, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Daniel A. McAdams.

J. Mech. Des 136(11), 115001 (Oct 08, 2014) (8 pages) Paper No: MD-14-1016; doi: 10.1115/1.4028094 History: Received January 12, 2014; Revised July 05, 2014

This paper describes the AmBot, a centipede-inspired amphibious robot for monitoring the Swan-Canning River, the most important estuary system in Western Australia. The major challenge in developing such a robot lies in that the limited physical size of the robot allows only one type of propulsion system to be used both on land and on water. This is in contrast to large amphibious robots that use wheels or track systems when on land and switch to propellers when on water. The focus of this paper is on the design of a single propulsion method suited to a small-sized amphibious robot. To achieve this, centipede-inspired tracks were engineered with each track-piece consisting of an aluminum base and a polystyrene-block float. It was hypothesized that tracks fixed with floats might be able to provide effective actuation both on land and on water for small-sized robots. When on water, the tracks provide propulsion force and buoyancy so that the waterline is well controlled. When on land, the tracks effectively spread the contact force across multiblocks, leading to effective actuation and low pressure on the sandy terrain, hence protecting the beach ecosystem. Finite element analysis (FEA) was applied to optimize the main components of the AmBot for weight reduction without sacrificing functionality and safety. The AmBot uses an Android-based remote-control system via the Internet, where the accelerometer, gyroscope, global positioning system (GPS), and camera on the Android device provide integrated navigation and monitoring sensing. A prototype was developed to validate the proposed design by conducting empirical studies.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
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Figures

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Fig. 1

The 3D model and prototype of the AmBot

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Fig. 2

The AmBot's weight spread evenly across multiple blocks when in contact with the ground

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Fig. 3

The desired water level when the AmBot is on water

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Fig. 4

The AmBot's bottom, side, spacer, and track floats

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Fig. 5

The DF of track, bottom, side, and spacer floats

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Fig. 6

The sprocket model, stress-loading simulation, and resultant displacement

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Fig. 7

The sprocket-shaft 3D model, stress-loading simulation, and resultant displacement

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Fig. 8

The track-piece 3D model, stress-loading simulation, and resultant displacement

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Fig. 9

The track-rod 3D model, stress-loading simulation, and resultant displacement

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Fig. 10

Exploded view of the AmBot

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Fig. 12

The alleviation of the sag of the track-set assembly

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Fig. 13

Motor supports dissipating the heat produced by the motors

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Fig. 14

Overview of the control system

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Fig. 15

Android App screenshot and Remote user interface via a browser

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Fig. 16

The AmBot swimming on water and going down a pallet

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