Corkscrew Robot - can you do it?

Here's one for the more creative engineers - a robot running on corkscrews instead of wheels or legs.

Tim Lexen, an engineer in Cumberland, Wisconsin, has come up with a novel design for robots. It has a triangular body 18 centimetres on a side, capped by a round lid, and three stainless steel coils 20 cm in diameter and 40 cm long. Each coil is turned by a motor - and by activating a coil, the robot can move in the direction of the coil's axis.

"It runs very well on grass, sand, gravel and other outdoor surfaces," Lexen said when he presented his work earlier this month at the IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Practical Robot Applications in Woburn, Massachusetts. However, the prototype has trouble gaining traction on surfaces like polished wood floors.

Here's the thing though; Lexen's prototype is only radio-controlled.  A human operator chooses what direction to rotate which screws.

Given the idea, I bet the clever folk here could not only replicate the corkscrew drive, but make it autonomous.

I'd bet an Arduino or Raspberry Pi would be up to the job.

Go on - imagine the kudos of beating the boffins at their own game!

New Scientist article.

Abstract of Lexen's work.

Video of robot in action.

Picture of Corkscrew Robot - can you do it?
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gmoon6 years ago
More of the historical screw-drive vehicles.
Kiteman (author)  gmoon6 years ago
Oh, there's blueprints...
It's an interesting concept. I'd have loved to see it deal with the snow in the video. I see no reason WHY it couldn't be automated. be interesting to see how and IF it develops further. It's certainly got the potential to do some interesting work.
Kiteman (author)  Dream Dragon6 years ago
I think deep snow would be a problem, unless they made the coils more blade- or screw-like. The central body would have to be smooth to slide over the surface more easily.

crapflinger6 years ago
sort of makes me think of those screw drive systems  like that widget 
Does it use differential steering like a tank?
the screw tractors? yeah i think so
LinemenOwn6 years ago
Are the corkscrews lying flat with multiple points of contact or are they at a slight angle so only on point from each corkscrew is in contact at a time. It seems to me that they are flat. Would it work/work better if they were at an angle? This seems like a very interesting idea.
Kiteman (author)  LinemenOwn6 years ago
Flat, I think.

If the diameter was large enough, it would be invertible, wouldn't it?
I checked out the abstract and that made it obvious that it is flat. I am interested in how the motors are turning when it is moving forward. The two rear rotors turn in the direction it wants to move in, like a differential drive or a robot in omni-directional wheels. Then the front rotor pulls it forward like it is digging into a cork in a bottle. I think that it is that movement that gives it an advantage over the omni-directional 3 wheeled robots.

The idea of invertablity is a big plus. Making the rotor too big would affecting gearing and speed of it.
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