The Explorer Range
The Explorer range of snake-arm robots is designed to enable you to conduct automated operations within confined spaces. The snake-arms are general purpose tools which occupy the mid-range for diameter, reach, payload, curvature and precision.
The Explorer snake-arm diameters vary from 40mm to 150mm. Payloads are provided for each diameter arm for different length arms. The table also identifies the different options available with each snake-arm size.
Snake-arm robot basics
One principle and four components:
User Interface - The user interface generally consists of a laptop or PC running the snake-arm application, and a multi-function joystick. Fixed installations may include additional controls for cameras, lights and tools. Our control software is developed in house, which means we can adapt our software to your requirements.
Actuator Pack - The shape and stiffness of a particular snake-arm is controlled by wire ropes that transfer mechanical power from the actuator pack into the snake-arm. This arrangement keeps the motors and power electronics accessible and outside the confined or hazardous space.
Snake-arm - A snake-arm is made up of articulating links. Both the number and length of the links can be varied giving a wide choice of final performance. Different snake-arms can be interchanged on the same actuator pack. All snake-arms are hollow and are designed to have minimum mass for maximum reach, whilst not compromising rigidity and stiffness.
Tool - Fixed or interchangeable tools and sensors are located at the tip of the snake-arm, although sensors may be distributed along its length. Services are routed through the hollow central bore.
Introduction Orientation - Actuator pack orientation and gravity have a substantial effect on payload capacity. The arm payloads given in the table are guidelines based on the orientation shown (H/V). Horizontal Reach (HR) is generally much more significant than Vertical Reach (VR). Please talk to us about your specific application for more guidance.
Payload - A high payload version is available for all snake-arm options. This is achieved by choosing higher specification materials and components. Payload, speed and curvature are all interrelated, allowing for task specific optimisation.
Speed - For confined spaces we have found that overall process time is more important than snake-arm top speed. Our snake-arms are generally built to maximise payload with a typical tip speed of 1m/s. Reducing the dynamic response of the snake-arm (increasing settling time) allows an increase in payload and/or speed.
Precision Metrics - Snake-arm motion is inherently well damped. Motion Resolution (MR) is the smallest increment of controlled motion - typically 0.01mm. Repeatability is the ability to return to the same configuration - typically 0.1mm. Accuracy is a process-related issue dependent on many factors.
Introduction Axis - The Rail&Rotate™ may be replaced by a telescopic introduction axis to increase reach. Snake-arms can also be mounted on an industrial robot. A mobile vehicle mounted solution is available.
Arm Extensions - All the snake-arms can be provided with extensions between the arm and the actuator pack. This can be used to further distance the motors from a hazardous environment or to increase reach.
Quick Release - Enabling snake-arms to be exchanged allows a wider range of capability and performance. Reasons for changing a snake-arm may include: changing function (payload, length, tool); rapid recovery; disposability; sterility; and, planned refurbishment.
Curvature - Higher curvature snake-arms are possible. Increasing curvature of the arm requires increased rope stroke and a longer actuator pack. Payload generally decreases with increased total curvature.
Protective Skins - Our skins provide a simple sterile barrier between your product and process and the snake-arm for the benefit of both. Skins can be provided for the external and internal surfaces and can be made user-changeable.
Hazardous Environments - OC Robotics snake-arm robots are well suited to hazardous environments. Moving motors and electronics out of the arm means that arm materials may be chosen to allow for radiation, heat, vacuum, magnetic fields, and operations in explosive atmospheres or a range of fluids including air and water.