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Design of Non-Conventional Chain Drive

Mechanism for a Mini-Robot

Conference Paper · October 2012

DOI: 10.1109/ICRAI.2012.6413403


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7 authors, including:

Sohail Anjum Nabeel Kamal

1 PUBLICATION 5 CITATIONS Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia


Umar Shahbaz Khan Javaid Iqbal

National University of Sciences and Technology University of Management and Technology (Pa…


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Design of Non-Conventional Chain Drive Mechanism for a Mini-Robot
Sohail Anjum, Nabeel Kamal, Umar Shahbaz Khan, Javaid Iqbal, Umar Izhar, Nasir Rasheed,

National University of Sciences and Technology, College of Electrical & Mechanical Engineering,
Peshawar Road, Rawalpindi,,,,, ,

ABSTRACT principles of locomotion; on the other hand new

inventions were required to implement direct methods.
This paper describes the design of a non-conventional
chain drive mechanism for a mini-robot. A mini-robot Different locomotion principles were used in several
named RUDYCUDY™ was designed. Chain drives are robots designed and fabricated by Bio-robotics Lab at
normally used when power or motion or both of them are Case Western Reserve University. Two robots were
to be transferred over a short distance. Various systems manufactured. Each used geared motors for motion and
were available in the markets that had certain standards. had six legs [2]. Next was called Robot 3[3]. In the next
To drive small scale robots no standard chain was developed robot, motor was replaced by pneumatic
available. In this study a roller chain was designed cylinders having a complex and difficult control [2]. In
because of its simplicity, strength, ability to work in harsh the next prototype braided pneumatic actuators were used
environment and little requirement for lubrication. in place of pneumatic cylinders. Another robot, named
Khepera, is commercially available robot which had two
Key Words: Mini-robot, chain drive, sprocket, drive wheels [4]. They were driven like a tracked vehicle,
mechanism, slip, driver, driven, link. as if contralateral wheels were driven separately [5]. A
mini-robot was created by Fukui, this robot worked by a
distinct method of locomotion. It used high efficiency of
1. Introduction piezoelectric actuators [6].

Macro-robots are outmaneuvered by mini-robots in Another consideration was seen in DARPA robot
autonomous Reconnaissance in confined spaces. Mini- research, using a prismatic joint by helical gear
robots are useful in concealed missions or search mechanism mounted on a shaft driven be motor,
operations. Redundancy was given in exploratory connected with other two racks and pinion. (Jizhong
missions by large groups of tiny robots. To perform insect Xiao’, 2001). But this method need more spacing than we
inspired research, tiny robots are suitable because they have and also caused a lot of additional weight. This
communicate with the surroundings at equivalent scale as method remain quite popular in proceeding years as used
big insects. in other miniature climbing robots, (Hans Dulimarta,
There were many constraints such as external power
supplies, excessive weight, small wheels and many more In Rudycudy™, two axles were used. The mechanism
which limit the mobility of these existing small robots. selected for transmitting motors power to these axles to
The most important constraint was how to transmit power make the robot move was through chain drive
from motor to the wheels of robot, so that it moved mechanism. The major advantage of this design was that
efficiently. Insects deal with the similar scale matters such it used single motor for driving purpose, whenever any
as small robots, so inspiration for greater mobility could spoked wheel-leg of robot was under slip due to the
be drawn from them. surface on which it was moving all the power was
transferred to the remaining spoked wheel-legs which
2. Earlier Endeavors were not under slip [7].

Several levels, from abstraction to direct, of organic

inspiration might be implemented [1]. Recent
technologies could be used to implement abstracted

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3. Chain Drive Disadvantages

The most former of all machine elements were the Chain 1. High production cost.
Drives. Chains normally have lesser weight as compared 2. Careful maintenance and accurate mounting is
to their counterparts such as gear drives or belt drives [8]. required.
Slip might occur on belt and rope drives but chains are
3. Excessive stretching could cause variation in
used to prevent slipping. Many stiff links are used to
make chain; these links are connected through pin joints velocity.
to allow required flexibility for rolling around the driven
and driving wheels. Special profile teeth are protruded on 4. Why Chain Drive
these wheels. Teeth met matching recesses present in
chain links. Therefore, chain and sprocket are restricted to There are large numbers of advantages of chain drive
proceed together in the absence of slip with hone velocity system as compared to its disadvantages. These
ratio. Figure 1 shows the chain drive mechanism. advantages made it to be a strong candidate for its use in

Research was conducted to find a suitable chain for this

application. After detailed study it was found that no
previously manufactured standard chain was available
which could be used for this application. So, there was a
need for designing a chain drive system which was
capable enough to drive a small robot efficiently.

Figure 1: Chain Drive Mechanism There were several types of chains available, after
When power and motion are to be transferred over a short literature survey it was observed that roller chain would
distance between the shafts, chains are used. For example be the most optimum solution for this problem.
in rolling mills, motor cycles conveyors etc. Chains could
also be used when centre distance between the shafts are 5. Chain Design
as long as eight meters.
So far Rudy Cudy is concerned various factors were
2.1 Advantages and Disadvantages considered while designing process was under
consideration. As the robot was a mini-robot, its chain
Some of the advantages of chain drive over belt or rope drive system would obviously be much smaller than its
drive are [9]: own size. So, the first and very important consideration
was to make mechanism as small as possible. The
Advantages thickness or height of robot was the initial constraint; the
mechanism was designed with its dimensions less than the
1. In chain drive slip is zero, so exact velocity ratio robots thickness. Another important issue which was kept
is achieved. in mind was the smaller size of chain drive mechanism, it
2. Mostly metal chains are used, hence in width should be miniaturized to the extent so that it could be
manufactured from locally available resources in other
very less space is occupied as compared to rope
words any special machinery or process should be
or belt drive. avoided which was not available in the local market.
3. It is used for short as well as long distances.
4. Its transmission efficiency is as high as 98 Chain Drive mechanism constitutes two sprockets, one is
percent. called driver and the other is called driven, and a chain.
5. Fewer loads are exerted on shaft by chain drive. Chain itself constitutes various links and each link is
6. One chain could transfer motion to several formed by joining roller, plates and pin.
5.1 Design Calculations
7. More power is transferred.
8. In one step high speed ratios of 8 to 10 could be The design proceeded from two known values, one was
achieved. motor RPM i.e. driver’s RPM, and second was robots
9. It might be used in adverse atmospheric and speed i.e. driven speed in RPM.
temperature conditions.

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From these two values velocity ratio was calculated. The load on chain found must be less than the breaking
load for chain drive system to work. In this case, breaking
The determination of number of teeth for smaller sprocket load was far greater than the load on chain. Factor of
was the most important step in the design. It was due to safety was also determined. This confirmed the safety of
the fact that number of teeth on a sprocket played vital RUDYCUDY™ design.
role in adjusting or determining the performance of drive
system. Numbers of teeth had direct effect on efficiency 5.2 Tooth Design
of system, with lesser number of teeth the system became
noisier and by increasing the number of teeth centrifugal There were various factors such as, number of teeth on
and frictional forces were reduced along with reduction in sprocket, chain pitch and roller diameter, which play
shocks. All of these advantages were accomplished due to important role in the designing of sprocket teeth. Teeth
decrease in chains pitch as numbers of teeth were were formed as a result of path traced by chain roller as it
increased. This value was determined according to Indian traveled through pitch circle and pitch line of a sprocket
Standards Table [9]. Optimum number of teeth for and chain pitch. So it was designed keeping in mind all
smaller sprocket of RUDYCUDY™ was set to 27. the important considerations. [10]

As the velocity ratio and number of teeth on one sprocket Tooth profile was designed according to Indian Standards.
were known, the number of teeth on the other sprocket Initially tooth height above pitch polygon was calculated
could easily be determined using equation 1: from known values.

(1) Roller diameter, tooth flank radius, roller seating radius,

roller seating angle, top diameter for larger and smaller
sprocket, root diameter and other unknowns were
N₁ = number of revolutions per minute (R.P.M) of smaller determined.
N₂= number of revolutions per minute The tooth designed for larger sprocket is as shown in
(R.P.M) of larger sprocket figure 2
T₁= number of teeth on the smaller sprocket
T₂= number of teeth on the larger sprocket

Design power was found using the rated power of motor

in watts and service factor of design. Service factor was
product of various factors such as Rating, Load and
lubrication factor. For RUDYCUDY™ it was 1 and
motors power was known.

Major constraint for RUDYCUDY™ was miniature

design, so maximum possible diameter of larger sprocket
was selected as a constraint and smaller sprockets
maximum diameter was found using this value.
Figure 2: Larger sprocket
Chain pitch was determined using the standard formula
available in literature.
6. Designing in Pro-Engineer
The numbers of links used in the chain were determined
utilizing the fact that the centre distance between the two
sprockets was known. The initial sag in the chain was Chain and sprocket were designed in Pro-Engineer.
accommodated by decreasing the center distance by few Figure 3 shows the larger sprocket made in pro-Engineer.
fractions of a millimeter .Number of links were found The pitch circle diameter of this sprocket was 14.9mm
considering this initial sagging effect. with a circular pitch of 0.78mm.

Chain length, pitch circle diameter for larger and smaller

sprockets, pitch line velocity, load on chain and breaking
load were determined using standard formulas.

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Figure 3: Larger sprocket
Figure 5: Mounting of shafts
The pitch circle diameter for smaller sprocket was
6.71mm with a same circular pitch as that for larger As mentioned before, in chain drive system all chain links
sprocket. It was also designed in Pro-Engineer. and sprockets must have same pitch so that roller had
seated in the teeth gap and make chain drive mechanism
All of the three i.e. larger sprocket, smaller sprocket and run efficiently. Figure 6 was a design made in Pro-
the chain had the same pitch so that chain moved and Engineer which clearly demonstrates that each roller had
flocked into the teeth of sprockets therefore chain also been seated between the teeth exactly. This was one of the
had the same pitch of 0.78mm. All calculations were indications that design made was up to the mark.
proved theoretically through the formulas available in the
literature. These calculations were confirmed when design
was made and assembled in the software. Figure 4 shows
the chain drive mechanism. Shaft is inserted in the smaller
sprocket (green in color). There were two green sprockets
mounted on that shaft, only one is visible in figure 4
because this picture showed the front view. Green
sprocket was driver and red sprocket i.e. larger sprocket
was driven. Two combinations of larger and smaller
shafts were used to drive all four wheels through a single
motor and provided maximum power to each wheel.

Figure 6: Interlocking of Chain and Teeth of Larger

Figure 4: Chain Drive
Figure 7 shows a tooth profile of two adjacent teeth on
Figure 5 shows how two sprockets were mounted on the smaller sprocket.
shaft. This configuration of mounting both the smaller
sprockets on a single shaft helped to achieve maximum
power to weight ratio.

Figure 7: Tooth Profile of Two Adjacent teeth of

Smaller Sprocket

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It has been confirmed form the local market that all of the performance of currently developed robots as it was
these parts can easily be manufactured in any CAD/CAM difficult to develop new technology or to develop robot
facility. having entirely different mechanism. Chain drives were
better suited in this application as they offered zero slip
7. Results And Discussion and occupied less space as compared to other systems.
Exact velocity ratio was to be transferred to achieve
Table was drawn to see the variation of various desired robot speed; this was possible through proper
parameters of chain drive when specific speed of robot designing of chain drive mechanism. During design phase
was required. As the desired speed of robot reduced it was considered that smallest possible design was
velocity ratio decreased. Consequently, number of teeth designed which could be easily manufactured from local
on smaller sprocket decreased in number . market.

It is evident from the table 1 that teeth on larger sprocket 9. References

had increased as speed of robot was reduced. The pitch
of chain would be reduced so that increased teeth [1] Wilson, D. M. (1966). Insect Walking. pp. 103–123.
accommodate within the diameter of larger sprocket. [2] Nelson, G.M., Learning About Control of Legged
Moreover, table clearly illustrates that pitch line velocity Locomotion Using a Hexapod Robot with Compliant
has reduced which confirmed the reduction in robot Pneumatic Actuators, PhD Dissertation, Case Western
speed. Reserve
University, Cleveland, OH, 2002
Table 1: Chain Drive Calculations [3] Bachmann, R.J., A Cockroach-Like Hexapod Robot
for Running and Climbing, M.S.
Input Constraints Calculations Thesis, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH,
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