Open Continuum Robotics Project

1 minute read

What is the open continuum robotics project?

After a decade of research on continuum robotics, the time is right for us to empower the world with open hardware and open software to build their own continuum robots. At the Continuum Robotics Lab, we are excited to share that we will be launching our open continuum robotics project in 2022.

Learning about continuum robotics is challenging. Not only are many concepts from traditional robotics not applicable or directly transferable, it also requires a different line of thought to work with continously bending, flexible, and compliant robots. Getting started in this area of robotics isn’t as straight-forward as one may think. There exists no textbook, no online lectures, no simulator, nothing. So where to start? Reading research papers that are addressed at a scientific audience and not a novice? Research papers are also often restricted to university members as they sit behind paywalls. To fill the gap between fundamental robotics knowledge and what is needed to work with continuum robots, research papers aren’t the best entry.

Common robot simulation software does not feature continuum robots - as their kinematic, kinetostatic, and dynamics modelling are quite different from robot manipulators and wheeled robots. With no simulator, how should one grasp the concepts of continuum robot designs, their motion capabilities? How to test advanced control algorithms?

A roboticist needs actual robot hardware to thrive. And here lies yet another challenge: Commercial continuum robots do not exist (yet). While there are specially designed medical continuum robots, such as robotically steered cathethers, buying a tendon-driven continuum robot with multiple bending segments or a concentric tube continuum robot is simply not an option.

Consequently, the barrier to get into continuum robotics is quite high. This limits the exploration of continuum robotics as a technology and slows down scientific discovery.

The Open Continuum Robotics Project provides

  • a blog with entry level educational content, advanced research results, historical perspectives, and cool continuum robot videos,
  • open continuum robot simulator
  • open continuum robot hardware with instructions how to build your own prototype using a 3D printer and off-the-shelf components

Stay tuned for updates!