Robohub.org
 

Natural scale caterpillar soft robot is powered and controlled with light

by
19 August 2016



share this:
Caterpillar micro-robot sitting on a finger tip. Credit: Source: FUW

Caterpillar micro-robot sitting on a finger tip.
Credit: Source: FUW

Researchers at the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw, using the liquid crystal elastomer technology, originally developed in the LENS Institute in Florence, demonstrated a bioinspired micro-robot capable of mimicking caterpillar gaits in natural scale. The 15-millimeter long soft robot harvests energy from green light and is controlled by spatially modulated laser beam. Apart from travelling on flat surfaces, it can also climb slopes, squeeze through narrow slits and transport loads.

For decades scientists and engineers have been trying to build robots mimicking different modes of locomotion found in nature. Most of these designs have rigid skeletons and joints driven by electric or pneumatic actuators. In nature, however, a vast number of creatures navigate their habitats using soft bodies — earthworms, snails and larval insects can effectively move in complex environments using different strategies. Up to date, attempts to create soft robots were limited to larger scale (typically tens of centimeters), mainly due to difficulties in power management and remote control.

Liquid Crystalline Elastomers (LCEs) are smart materials that can exhibit large shape change under illumination with visible light. With the recently developed techniques, it is possible to pattern these soft materials into arbitrary three dimensional forms with a pre-defined actuation performance. The light-induced deformation allows a monolithic LCE structure to perform complex actions without numerous discrete actuators.

Researchers from the University of Warsaw with colleagues from LESN (Italy) and Cambridge (UK) have now developed a natural-scale soft caterpillar robot with an opto-mechanical liquid crystalline elastomer monolithic design. The robot body is made of a light sensitive elastomer stripe with patterned molecular alignment. By controlling the travelling deformation pattern the robot mimics different gaits of its natural relatives. It can also walk up a slope, squeeze through a slit and push objects as heavy as ten times its own mass, demonstrating its ability to perform in challenging environments and pointing at potential future applications.

“Designing soft robots calls for a completely new paradigm in their mechanics, power supply and control. We are only beginning to learn from nature and shift our design approaches towards these that emerged in natural evolution,” says Piotr Wasylczyk, head of the Photonic Nanostructure Facility at the Faculty of Physics of the University of Warsaw, Poland, who led the project.

Researchers hope that rethinking materials, fabrication techniques and design strategies should open up new areas of soft robotics in micro- and millimeter length scales, including swimmers (both on-surface and underwater) and even fliers.


Journal reference:

Mikołaj Rogóż, Hao Zeng, Chen Xuan, Diederik Sybolt Wiersma, Piotr Wasylczyk. Light-Driven Soft Robot Mimics Caterpillar Locomotion in Natural Scale. Advanced Optical Materials, 2016; DOI:10.1002/adom.201600503

Source:

Science Daily / Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160818102611.htm



tags: , , , , , ,


Robohub Editors





Related posts :



ep.

339

podcast

High Capacity Ride Sharing, with Alex Wallar

Robohub Podcast · Public Transit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgstBxWFFZQ [space] In this episode, our interviewer Lilly speaks to Alex Wallar, co-founder and CTO of The Routing Company. ...
12 October 2021, by

50 women in robotics you need to know about 2021

It’s Ada Lovelace Day and once again we’re delighted to introduce you to “50 women in robotics you need to know about”! From the Afghanistan Girls Robotics Team to K.G.Engelhardt who in 1989 ...
12 October 2021, by and

Join the Women in Robotics Photo Challenge

How can women feel as if they belong in robotics if we can't see any pictures of women building or programming robots? The Civil Rights Activist Marian Wright Edelson aptly said, "You can't be what yo...
12 October 2021, by

Sense Think Act Podcast: Melonee Wise

In this episode, Audrow Nash speaks with Melonee Wise, former CEO of Fetch Robotics and current VP of Robotics Automation at Zebra Technologies. Melonee speaks about the origin of Fetch Robotics, her ...
11 October 2021, by and

Online events to look out for on Ada Lovelace Day 2021

On the 12th of October, the world will celebrate Ada Lovelace Day to honor the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). After a successful worldwide online celebrati...
10 October 2021, by

Flying high-speed drones into the unknown with AI

When it comes to exploring complex and unknown environments such as forests, buildings or caves, drones are hard to beat. They are fast, agile and small, and they can carry sensors and payloads virtua...
08 October 2021, by





©2021 - ROBOTS Association


 












©2021 - ROBOTS Association