Adam Komoroski: C.1 Source Acquisition

C.1 Source Acquisition


I chose to explore the topic of snake-like locomotion in robots. The goal here was to look into models of how snakes move around in their environment, and how mimicking this motion can be advantageous to robots.

The overarching question I posed was: “How can the motion of a snake be modeled and replicated in robots, and how is this advantageous?”

C.1.0) Source

To address the requirement "Identify one recent paper …. Cite it appropriately, using the References format found in the Wiki.", I chose to use reference [1].

This paper looks to develop a control strategy for snake-like robots by creating a dynamic model of how a snake moves in its environment. Particularly, it focuses on motion that is aided by the use of obstacles in the surroundings. The abstract discusses that a snake can:

traverse cluttered and irregular environments by using irregularities around its body as push points to aid the propulsion. This characteristic feature of biological snake locomotion, which is denoted as obstacle-aided locomotion, is investigated for snake robot locomotion purposes in this paper.

This paper is particularly interesting because, unlike most of the other articles I researched, this research does not just deal with simple predefined gaits designed to transport the snake across flat ground.

The paper goes into great detail deriving equations of motion for the snake's body using a number of different models. It then provides simulation results using these models.

C.1.1) Venue

The following is evidence that the venue is appropriate for the topic under considerations and of sufficient quality to be worth reading more carefully:

Aims And Scope

IEEE Transactions on Robotics has been the number one most-cited journal in robotics for many years, according to the annual Journal Citation Report (in particular in the latest 2007 edition) published by the Institute for Scientific Information. This periodical covers both theory and applications on topics including: kinematics, dynamics, control, and simulation of robots and intelligent machines and systems; design of robotic mechanisms; man-machine interface and integration; motion and manipulation; robotics-related computer hardware, software, and architectures; linkage to computer-aided engineering; robotics in manufacturing and flexible automation; robotics and automation in less structured environments; vision and other non-contact sensory systems; and tactile and other contact sensory technology.

Relative Impact Factor

The ISI Journal Citation Report ranks IEEE Transactions on Robotics as 2nd out of 16 journals in Robotics.
According to the ISI Journal Citation Report, it has an impact factor of 2.035.
The Scopus Journal Analyzer gives it a value of 0.048.

C.1.2) Authors' Qualifications

Liljebäck, Pål - Norwegian Institute of Technology, Department of Applied Cybernetics
Scopus h-index: 2

Pettersen, Kristin Ytterstad - Norwegian Institute of Technology, Department of Applied Cybernetics
Scopus h-index: 12

Stavdahl, Øyvind - Norwegian Institute of Technology, Department of Applied Cybernetics
Scopus h-index: 4

Gravdahl, Jan Tommy - Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Engineering Cybernetics
Scopus h-index: 7

C.1.3) Source Identification Methods

Initial Search

I started with ISI Web of Science and entered the search terms 'snake robot'. I sorted these by number of citations. The most relevant results were 'Analysis of creeping locomotion of a snake-like robot' from Advanced Robotics in 2001 and 'Design and Motion Planning of a Mechanical Snake' from IEEE Transaction on Systems Man and Cybernetics in 1993. These had 42 and 30 citations respectively.

I attempted the same search on Scopus ('snake robot' sorted by citation). The first result was the most relevant. This was 'Serpentine locomotion with robotic snakes' from IEEE Control Systems Magazine in 2002. This article has 85 citations.

Both of these searches returned 'AmphiBot I: An amphibious snake-like robot' from Robotics and Autonomous Systems in 2005. This describes the use of snake-like locomotion to achieve motion both on land and in the water. It is more recent than the other articles I encountered.

The search for 'snake robot' through PubMed provided me with 'A survey of snake-inspired robot designs' from Bioinspiration & Biomimetrics in 2009.

The search for 'snake motion' through Biosis gave me the first result 'The mechanics of slithering locomotion' from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2009. It discusses developing a theoretical model for the motion of snakes.

Librarian Consultation

I consulted Mr. McGee regarding my search strategies and he had quite a bit of useful advice.

First, he had several suggestions of specific papers for me to look at. Including:

A survey on snake robot modeling and locomotion
Transeth, Aksel Andreas (SINTEF ICT, Applied Cybernetics, NO-7465 Trondheim, Norway); Pettersen, Kristin Ytterstad; Liljebck, Pl Source: Robotica, v 27, n 7, p 999-1015, December 2009


Environment-adaptable locomotion of a snake-like robot
Li, Bin (Robotics Laboratory, Shenyang Institute of Automation, Nanta Street, Shenyang, 110016, China); Ma, Shugen; Wang, Yuechao; Iv, Yang; Chen, Li Source: Proceedings - 2004 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics, IEEE ROBIO 2004, p 584-588, 2004, Proceedings - 2004 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics, IEEE ROBIO 2004

Although I did not end up using these particular papers, skimming them provided me with more background on the subject and a better idea of current research. Thus, they helped me both to better understand the other papers I was reading and to improve my search strategy.

He also had suggestions for search terms that I was neglecting to use that might help me find the papers I was looking for. For example, although my topic was snake-like locomotion, I hadn't been using the term 'locomotion' in my searches. I have found this advice to be very useful, and my list of sources has changed considerably since before the consultation.

C.1.4) High Quality Bioinspired Robotics Contribution

The above information has shown [1] to be relevant to the topic of bio-inspired snake-like locomotion and to be of sufficient quality. The paper offers the following regarding the usefulness of research in this area:

Inspired by biological snake locomotion, snake robots carry the potential of meeting the growing need for robotic mobility in unknown and challenging environments.

The paper also concludes by discussing the need to further investigate the stability of their proposed controller and the need to run experiments on an actual robot.

C.1.5) General Robotics Literature

Two of the papers I researched best address the topic of modeling snake locomotion and using this information to control snake-like robots.


The first of these is [2]. This article looks at several types of snake locomotion gaits, but focuses on serpentine locomotion, which is directly biologically inspired. They use existing knowledge of how snakes move and attempt to use this information to move robots effectively.

//Our objective is to establish a mathematical framework for the modeling, analysis, and synthesis of serpentine locomotion with a multilink robotic snake. We apply some existing knowledge from the biological study of snakes, but our focus will be on

a robotic realization theory of snakelike locomotion rather than the biomimetic aspect of the problem//


Scopus Citations: 87

University of Virginia, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Saito, Masashi: h-index = 1
Fukaya, Masakazu: h-index = 2
Iwasaki, Tetsuya: h-index = 15


The other article from the general robotics literature is [3]. This article looks at the problem more generally, but is still quite relevant to this discussion:

"Hyper-redundant" robots have a large or infinite degree of kinematic redundancy. They are analogous in morphology to snakes, tentacles, and elephant trunks. Their high degree of articulation makes hyperredundant robots superior for operation in highly constrained environments, such as nuclear reactor cores, underground toxic waste tanks, or the human intestine.


Scopus Citations: 110

Johns Hopkins University, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Chirikjian, Gregory S I: h-index = 20

California Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering
Burdick, Joel Wakeman: h-index = 24

C.1.6) Biology Literature

Two of the papers I researched on the Biology side best address my topic of choice.


The first of these is [4]. This article focuses on the biological side, looking specifically at how a snake moves and trying to develop a model:

In this study, we develop a theoretical model for slithering locomotion by observing snake motion kinematics and experimentally measuring the friction coefficients of snakeskin.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

PNAS is one of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials. Since its establishment in 1914, it continues to publish cutting-edge research reports, commentaries, reviews, perspectives, colloquium papers, and actions of the Academy. Coverage in PNAS spans the biological, physical, and social sciences. PNAS is published weekly in print, and daily online in PNAS Early Edition. The PNAS impact factor is 9.432 and the Eigenfactor is 1.681 for 2009. PNAS is available by subscription.


The other article from the biology literature is [5]. This article also looks at snakes from the biology side. In particular, it discusses the three most common modes of snake locomotion: lateral undulation, concertina locomotion, and sidewinding.


Google Scholar Citations: 46

Copeia is a broadly based scientific journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH). It publishes results of original research performed by members in which fish, amphibians, or reptiles are utilized as study organisms.

The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists is dedicated to the scientific study of fishes, amphibians and reptiles. The primary emphases of the Society are to increase knowledge about these organisms, to disseminate that knowledge through publications, conferences, symposia, and other means, and to encourage and support young scientists who will make future advances in these fields. The programs of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists are part of a global effort to interpret, understand, and conserve the Earth's natural diversity and to contribute to the wise use of natural resources for the long-term benefit of humankind.


1. Liljeback, P.; Pettersen, K.Y.; Stavdahl, O.; Gravdahl, J.T. , Hybrid Modelling and Control of Obstacle-Aided Snake Robot Locomotion Robotics, IEEE Transactions on , vol.26, no.5, pp.781-799, Oct. 2010
2. Saito, M., Fukaya, M., Iwasaki, T. , Serpentine locomotion with robotic snakes, IEEE Control Systems Magazine, 22(1), 64-81, 2002
3. Chirikjian, G.S.; Burdick, J.W., The kinematics of hyper-redundant robot locomotion Robotics and Automation, IEEE Transactions on , vol.11, no.6, pp.781-793, Dec 1995
4. Hu, David L. ;Nirody, Jasmine; Scott, Terri ;Shelley, Michael J., The mechanics of slithering locomotion Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 106(25). JUN 23 2009.
5. Bruce C. Jayne, Kinematics of Terrestrial Snake Locomotion Copeia. Vol. 1986, No. 4 (Dec. 23, 1986), pp. 915-927