The exploration of new lands has always been a source of motivation for mankind. Despite the common idea that our planet is fully known, a huge number of inaccessible places still remains unvisited today, especially below the surface. Recent advances in robotics allow some of these locations to be explored by unmanned vehicles. This paper presents the design of a 3-modules lighter-than-air vehicle specifically conceived to autonomously explore inaccessible caves and underground environments. The design is inspired from an arthropod, scutigera coleoptrata, a long-legged centipede commonly found in our houses. Instead of crawling on walls like its biological counterpart, the robotic scutigera hovers and flies in cave tunnels. The aim is to develop a flexible semi-rigid, segmented airship that can withstand long, smooth explorations of caves while transmitting in real-time the images and sounds that it captures. To develop the model of the system, the kinematics of the modules are obtained in the inertial frame, and the dynamic derivation of the vehicle is obtained using Kane’s equations, which can also be extended for an n-bodies system. Its motion is illustrated with a couple of simplified scenarios in the horizontal plane and only having actuation in the front, or first module, of the airship. A structural design of the modules is presented and supported with a proof-of-concept prototype.

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