An extensible continuum robot with integrated origami parallel modules

Ketao Zhang*, Chen Qiu, Jian S. Dai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a novel design of extensible continuum robots in light of origamiinspired folding techniques. The design starts from a modularized crease pattern, which consists of two triangular bases and three waterbomb bases, and generates a folding process for creating an origami waterbomb parallel structure. This further progresses to generating a compliant module with the origami parallel structure and a helical compression spring. A novel extensible continuum robot with the integrated compliant parallel modules is then proposed to imitate not only the bending motion but also the contraction of continuum creatures in nature. Mapping the origami parallel structure to an equivalent kinematic model, the motion characteristics of the origami structure are explored in terms of kinematic principles. The analysis reveals the mixed rotational and translational motion of the origami parallel module and the virtual axes for yaw and pitch motions. Following kinematics of the proposed continuum robot and features of the integrated helical spring in each module, three actuation schemes and resultant typical working phases with a tendon-driven system are presented. The design and analysis are then followed by a prototype of the extensible continuum robot with six integrated compliant modules connected in serial. The functionality of the proposed continuum robot with the origami parallel structure as its skeleton and the helical springs as the compliant backbone is validated by experimental results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number031010
JournalJournal of Mechanisms and Robotics
Issue number3
Early online date7 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Compliant module
  • Extensible continuum robot
  • Kinematics
  • Origami
  • Parallel mechanism


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