Millipede-Inspired Locomotion for Rumen Monitoring through Remotely Operated Vehicle
Garcia, Anthony Jon Chanco
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There has been a growing interest in development of nature-inspired miniature mobile robotics, for navigating complex ground scenarios, unknown terrains, and disaster-hit areas. One application is the development of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for rumen monitoring to improve our understanding of microbiology, and real-time physical changes and correlations with health. This interest is being driven from the desire to improve the safety and efficiency of food production by improving precision animal agriculture, which involves understanding the digestive system of ruminant animals and responding to the biochemical and physical changes. Most miniature robotic locomotion methods have taken inspiration from insects and have focused on adopting approaches that results in improved gait performance with respect to stability, velocity, cost-of-transport, and ability to navigate uneven surface terrains. In order to operate in the rumen environment, the locomotion mechanism should have the ability to handle large frictional and viscous forces in the direction of motion performing submerged burrowing-like action. The rumen environment consists of varying stiffness content with different fluidic concentration across the layers, reaching high viscosity and densities similar to wet soil or mud. Taking inspiration from millipedes for a locomotion mechanism to function in such an environment is attractive as these organisms have evolved to be proficient burrowers in similar substrates. In this dissertation, the bio-mechanics of millipedes were investigated in-depth and modeled using analytical approaches. Multiple experiments were conducted on real animals to gain fundamental understanding of their locomotive abilities under varying environmental conditions. From this understanding, their gait behavior was emulated on a robotic platform to confirm the predicted dynamics and practically demonstrate the phenomena of modulating thrust force. The robotic models were also utilized to validate the parametric analysis and gain insight of the burrowing ability in varying gait behavior and body morphology. The primary features that govern the millipede behavior for effective burrowing were analyzed and utilized to design a locomotion mechanism for a rumen ROV. The design of the locomotion mechanism was tested in rumen-like media consisting of a wet mud mixture, where both locomotion thrust and steering ability were demonstrated.
- Doctoral Dissertations