Recent research topics in bionics focus on the analysis and synthesis of
mammal's perception of their environment by means of their vibrissae. Using
these complex tactile sense organs, rats and mice, for example, are capable
of detecting the distance to an object, its contour and its surface
texture. The present work focuses on developing and investigating a
biologically inspired mechanical model for object scanning and contour
reconstruction. A vibrissa -- used for the transmission of a stimulus -- is
often modeled as a cylindrically shaped or tapered Euler-Bernoulli-bending
rod, which is one-sided clamped. In literature, the vibrissa is often swept
along an object translationally for the scanning process. Due to the
biological paradigm, the scanning process within the present work is
adapted for a rotational movement of the vibrissa. Therefore, the vibrissa
is modeled as a long and thin rod having a tapered shape, an intrinsic
curvature, and is pivoted by a bearing. The rotational scanning process is
considered quasi-statically. The large deflections of the rod are described
by the nonlinear Euler-Bernoulli theory resulting in a set of ordinary
differential equations. A distinction between tip and tangential contact of
the rod with the object (phase A and phase B, respectively) is made, and
for both phases the boundary conditions are determined. The arose equations
form a general boundary-value problem that is considered at different
levels of abstraction. At first, the rotational sweep of a straight,
cylindrically shaped rod along a strictly convex contour is treated
analytically to determine the unknown support reactions and the contact
force. Then, the contact points are reconstructed by solving an
initial-value problem, using only these information at the support of the
rod: support reactions, support position and torque. These information all
form quantities an animal relies on in nature. Based on the mechanical
model and its describing set of ordinary differential equations, a
Matlab-program is developed and used for simulating the rotational scanning
process and the reconstruction of a strictly convex contour. The abort of
the simulation-algorithm, which could point out the vibrissa ``snap off''
of an object, is investigated more closely. Afterwards, the scanning
process is extended by rotating the vibrissa in opposite direction and
varying the support position. Thus, the reconstructable area of the profile
can be enlarged. Finally, the advantages of several characteristics of the
biological paradigm are investigated using numerical simulations.