Soft Miniature Mobile Robots - Metin Sitti
From Kathryn Gentilello on March 6th, 2018
Soft functional materials could enable physical intelligence for small-scale (from a few millimeters down to a few micrometers overall size) mobile robots by enabling them with unique capabilities such as shape changing and programming, adaptation, and multi-functional and diverse behavior. This talk will explore our recent activities on how to design, manufacture, and control new untethered soft actuators, sensors, robots, and shape-programmable materials at the milli/microscale. First, inflated soft actuators with reversible stable deformations are proposed combining hyperelastic membranes and dielectric elastomer actuators to switch between stable deformations of sealed chambers. Next, new parallel microcracks-based ultrasensitive and highly stretchable soft strain sensors are integrated with gecko-inspired microfiber adhesives for wearable medical devices adhered on the skin. Next, new, untethered milli/microscale swimming robots inspired by spermatozoids and jellyfish are proposed using elastomeric magnetic composite materials. Static and dynamic shapes of such magnetic active soft materials are programmed using a computational design methodology. These soft robots are demonstrated to be able to have seven or more locomotion modalities (undulatory swimming, jellyfish-like swimming, water meniscus climbing, jumping, ground walking, rolling, crawling inside constrained environments, etc.) in a single robot for the first time to be able to move on complex environments, such as inside the human body. Ultrasound-guided navigation of such robots is possible towards medical functions such as local cargo/drug delivery.