4 years ago

Light-Driven, Caterpillar-Inspired Miniature Inching Robot

Light-Driven, Caterpillar-Inspired Miniature Inching Robot
Hao Zeng, Arri Priimagi, Owies M. Wani, Piotr Wasylczyk
Liquid crystal elastomers are among the best candidates for artificial muscles, and the materials of choice when constructing microscale robotic systems. Recently, significant efforts are dedicated to designing stimuli-responsive actuators that can reproduce the shape-change of soft bodies of animals by means of proper external energy source. However, transferring material deformation efficiently into autonomous robotic locomotion remains a challenge. This paper reports on a miniature inching robot fabricated from a monolithic liquid crystal elastomer film, which upon visible-light excitation is capable of mimicking caterpillar locomotion on different substrates like a blazed grating and a paper surface. The motion is driven by spatially uniform visible light with relatively low intensity, rendering the robot “human-friendly,” i.e., operational also on human skin. The design paves the way toward light-driven, soft, mobile microdevices capable of operating in various environments, including the close proximity of humans. Soft robotics brings revolutionary possibilities to devising new moving mechanisms, being pertinent for both fundamental and applied sciences. A light-driven, human-friendly microrobot is reported that can mimic caterpillar inching locomotion with spatially uniform illumination. The robot is made of liquid crystal elastomer film with engineered molecular alignment distribution, and it can perform inching gait on various surfaces, including human skin.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/marc.201700224

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