Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems

, Volume 85, Issue 2, pp 229–244 | Cite as

Development of Flexible Mono-Tread Mobile Track Using Rotational Joints

  • Tetsuya KinugasaEmail author
  • Takafumi Haji
  • Koji Yoshida
  • Hisanori Amano
  • Ryota Hayashi
  • Kenichi Tokuda
  • Masatsugu Iribe


Robot technology is expected to become applicable to missions on rough terrain, such as search and rescue activities, planetary exploration, and environmental investigations. The robots in such environments need high mobility against extremely rough terrain. Tracked vehicles are effective against rough terrain because the contact pressure of the vehicle can be distributed more widely. However, it is difficult for a typical tracked vehicle composed of a pair of tracks to significantly change its length/width ratio from 1:1 because of its turning property. To improve mobility, serpentine tracked robots are designed to move on rough terrain. We proposed a flexible mono-tread mobile track (FMT). An FMT is a mono-track system, and its body has a vertebral structure composed of rigid segments (called vertebrae) connected by flexible segments (called intervertebral disks). An FMT can flex more widely in three dimensions, thereby turning and climbing over obstacles. This feature is an advantage over previous mono-track systems. Prototypes of FMTs called RT02-WORMY and RT03-LIPAN have been developed and validated the system’s mobility. The body of an FMT, except for both sidewalls, is completely surrounded by only a track belt. However, the prototypes have a problem with interference and derailing in the track belt that is caused by flexion and the surface profile of the ground. The objective of this study, therefore, is to develop a new prototype of an FMT called RT04-NAGA. NAGA adopts a combination of one-degree-of-freedom (DoF) rotational joints instead of flexible components and an accurately designed guide rail system to prevent the belt from interfering with operation or derailing. To validate the performance of the prototype, we conducted the fundamental tests of the prototype, such as energy consumption; mobility with a ditch, a vertical wall, a stairway and a spiral stairway; and the standard tests following the regulations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


Tracked vehicle Flexible mono-track Mechanism design Search and rescue 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tetsuya Kinugasa
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Takafumi Haji
    • 3
  • Koji Yoshida
    • 4
  • Hisanori Amano
    • 5
  • Ryota Hayashi
    • 6
  • Kenichi Tokuda
    • 7
  • Masatsugu Iribe
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Systems EngineeringKita-kuJapan
  2. 2.Okayama University of ScienceOkayamaJapan
  3. 3.National Institute of Technology, Matsue CollegeShimaneJapan
  4. 4.Okayama University of ScienceOkayamaJapan
  5. 5.National Research Institute of Fire and DisasterTokyoJapan
  6. 6.Okayama University of ScienceOkayamaJapan
  7. 7.Wakayama UniversityWakayamaJapan
  8. 8.Osaka Electro-Communication UniversityOsakaJapan

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