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OC Robotics has announced the launch of the Explorer range of snake-arm robots, based on the company’s work in the aerospace sector.

The Explorer series of snake-arm robots has been placed in the mid-range, with diameters from 40mm to 150mm.

The range is designed to enable users to conduct automated operations within confined spaces.

The snake arms are general-purpose tools that occupy the mid-range for diameter, reach, payload, curvature and precision.

A snake arm is made up of articulating links; both the number and length of the links can be varied.

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.

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.

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.

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.

For confined spaces, the company claims that overall process time is more important than snake-arm top speed.

OC’s 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 the settling time) allows for an increase in payload and/or speed.

The Rail and 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.

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.

Enabling snake arms to be exchanged allows a wider range of capabilities and performance, according to the company.

Reasons for changing a snake arm may include: a changing function (payload, length or tool); rapid recovery; disposability; sterility; or a planned refurbishment.

Higher-curvature snake arms are also possible.

Increasing the curvature of the arm requires an increased rope stroke and a longer actuator pack.

Payload generally decreases with the increased total curvature.

OC snake-arm robots are suitable for 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.

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