A new approach to solve the inverse kinematic problem for hyper-redundant planar manipulators following any desired path is presented. The method is singularity free and provides a robust solution even in the event of mechanical failure of some of the robot actuators. The approach is based on defining virtual layers and dividing them into virtual/real three-link or four-link sub-robots. It starts by solving the inverse kinematic problem for the sub-robot located in the lowest virtual layer, which is then used to solve the inverse kinematic equations for the sub-robots located in the upper virtual layers. An algorithm is developed which provides a singularity-free solution up to full extension through a configuration index. The configuration index can be interpreted as the average of the determinants of the Jacobians of the sub-robots. The equations for the velocities and accelerations of the manipulator are solved by extending the same approach where it is realized that the value of configuration index is critical in maintaining joint velocity continuity. The inverse dynamic problem of the robot is also solved to obtain the torques required for the robot actuators to accomplish its task. Computer simulations of several hyper-redundant manipulators using the proposed method are presented as numerical examples.

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