Development of a continuum robot enhanced with distributed sensors for search and rescue

Yu Yamauchi, Yuichi Ambe, Hikaru Nagano, Masashi Konyo, Yoshiaki Bando, Eisuke Ito, Solvi Arnold, Kimitoshi Yamazaki, Katsutoshi Itoyama, Takayuki Okatani, Hiroshi G. Okuno, Satoshi Tadokoro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Continuum robots can enter narrow spaces and are useful for search and rescue missions in disaster sites. The exploration efficiency at disaster sites improves if the robots can simultaneously acquire several pieces of information. However, a continuum robot that can simultaneously acquire information to such an extent has not yet been designed. This is because attaching multiple sensors to the robot without compromising its body flexibility is challenging. In this study, we installed multiple small sensors in a distributed manner to develop a continuum-robot system with multiple information-gathering functions. In addition, a field experiment with the robot demonstrated that the gathered multiple information has a potential to improve the searching efficiency. Concretely, we developed an active scope camera with sensory functions, which was equipped with a total of 80 distributed sensors, such as inertial measurement units, microphones, speakers, and vibration sensors. Herein, we consider space-saving, noise reduction, and the ease of maintenance for designing the robot. The developed robot can communicate with all the attached sensors even if it is bent with a minimum bending radius of 250 mm. We also developed an operation interface that integrates search-support technologies using the information gathered via sensors. We demonstrated the survivor search procedure in a simulated rubble environment of the Fukushima Robot Test Field. We confirmed that the information provided through the operation interface is useful for searching and finding survivors. The limitations of the designed system are also discussed. The development of such a continuum robot system, with a great potential for several applications, extends the application of continuum robots to disaster management and will benefit the community at large.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalROBOMECH Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec


  • Continuum robots
  • Search and Rescue robots
  • Sensor arrays
  • Sensor fusion
  • Sensor systems
  • Soft robotics
  • System integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Instrumentation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


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