Continuum Robot with Self-Sensing and Coiling Capability for In-bore Robotics Delivery

The RAIN-Snake is a flexible delivery system for in-situ inspection and repair, composed of a flexible delivery arm and an actuation pack (analogous to a small drum). The RAIN-Snake can navigate into hard to reach, hazardous environments for inspection and in-situ repair, and can be used in gloveboxes, and other complex areas. A range of tooling options makes the RAIN-Snake adaptable and suitable for a range of applications. Some examples of tools that have been integrated into the system include:

Soft Gripper: A soft gripper (vacuum) developed by Rolls-Royce was integrated with the snake robot. The RAIN-Snake can be controlled using an on-board camera to navigate narrow spaces. The RAIN-Snake arm carrying the gripper in this instance was used to catch a workpiece.

Raman Spectroscopy: A sensor was attached to the end-effector of snake arm to analyse unknown materials inside a narrow space, using Raman spectroscopy.

Technical Specifications Flexible snake arm:

  • Reach of ~1m
  • Outside diameter tapered from 27mm to 12 mm [minimum deployment diameter]
  • Arm designed to be both flexible and stiff, allowing the RAIN-SNAKE to access narrow spaces while carrying a camera, sensor, gripper, or other specialised tools.
  • Easy attachment of different tools.
  • Internal working channel of 7.5mm for inspection tool.

Actuation Pack:

  • Compact actuation pack resembling a small portable drum.
  • Coiling function saves storage space.
  • Compatible with other platforms, software or devices.
  • Remote controlled by Android devices.


  • Demo 1: University of Nottingham, Nov 2018, inspection with Raman sensor (developed by University of Bristol).
  • Demo 2: RACE, Jul 2019, integration of CORTEX software.
  • Demo 3: RAIN Expo for Sellafield, Cumbria, Sept 2019, glove box (mock-up) inspection.
  • Demo 4: University of Nottingham, Feb 2020, inspection of pipes and glove-box mock-up.

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