Tesla Snake Arm v2

I'm building a snake robot arm that can charge my electric car. Adapted from the design by Juan Sirgado y Antico.


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For a long time, I've wanted to automate the plugging in of my electric car. When I saw Juan had already started designing a snake arm that resemble's the one Tesla is prototyping, I thought, why not give it a try. My car is already being charged by open source electronics, but this project just seemed like to much fun and too interesting not to do it.

I'm planning on using computer vision with an off the shelf component called "Pixy" CMUcam5 and have it recognize the position and rotation of color codes. Little pairs of stickers that need to appear in the right place before the final insertion is executed.

Changes compared to the original by Juan Sirgado y Antico (link: www.thingiverse.com/thing:959891)

 - Made snakebody() more parametric

 - The 3 cables need a more smooth path to move properly

 - Removed a lot of "flesh" from the model

 - Made the ball joint neck a bit smaller so it can have a bigger hole on the inside without sacrificing strength.

Materials and methods

- Print the snake_body parts at 2x scale, as many as you need to create the right length
- Add Pixy CMUcam5 if you want to add simple computer vision.



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Mini 6d229cb813230218644fa31cc6549ed8   copyGaryLlamas added this to the njkj collection ago
6a117ff668ea197f1f639fb3c023960b?default=blank&size=40Paweł Urbański added this to the car collection ago
5c66e38ebff8604a46db71688cdacd0d?default=blank&size=40faughtz added this to the tesla collection ago
3d5ee89d34c3880881e6beb8d4a8b0c2?default=blank&size=40gschrang commented ago

Have you tried using magnets in a sleeve for the joints instead of ball joints. No friction (ie. + on +) between sections. Only pulling the string to collapse the corners.... Just a thought.

Mini screen shot 2013 07 15 at 6.49.36 pmErik de Bruijn commented ago

I just used string to keep things together and simulate it by hand to see what kind of friction the servos would need to overcome. With the big ball joints it seems like it is not feasible, it has a lot of friction. Perhaps using just the (thick) power cord as a core and leaving out the ball&sockets would even give a better result!

There is a popular servo design on YouMagine, b.t.w.

01da4d652478f12b642df2d0711c8af4?default=blank&size=40nbarker88 commented ago

How do you assemble it? Also, what kind of feedback mechanism is used to control the movements?

It is a very interesting idea. Thanks for sharing.

Mini screen shot 2013 07 15 at 6.49.36 pmErik de Bruijn commented ago

Hi em3kay, I actually did print lots of them. See the picture in the timeline of the design or see this link:


Mini screen shot 2013 07 15 at 6.49.36 pmErik de Bruijn printed this ago
Carousel thumb img 20151231 145113
Printed on:
Ultimaker - The Ultimaker 2
Good printing results.
There's too much friction caused by the ball socket mechanism for this concept to actually work.
Mini 232em3kay commented ago

did you ever end up scaling this one up? to work with your car? looks good

2c85e7b0ab0beb99c2aec3a5543f9575?default=blank&size=40cyclone commented ago

I love the quick eager to please action you are giving it. I'd love to see an animation with this little guy meeting Luxo Jr.

Very nice to see this thing printed, can't wait for the servo control to be added.

Mini screen shot 2013 07 15 at 6.49.36 pmErik de Bruijn published this design ago