Sunday, May 24, 2009

Soft-bodied robotics

For the past few weeks, robotics has taken over my life once more. This time, I challenged the scale and stability with my new designs of soft-bodied inchworm robot. The previous crawling green foam known as InchBot-III (classic): FoamBot. It has been successfully modeled in a FEA implementation with high accuracy.

In order to scale down and maintain the same mechanics, I needed to change the material, or body bending mechanism. For that, I developed the next generation robot InchBot-IV (mini): LeechBot that reversed the working principles of Mckibben artificial muscle. By weaving the SMA into the tubular braid, the structure could create suction durint contraction at two ends, very much like a leech. The suction adhesion morphology is currently under design.

By changing the material, I was able get another inching robot. This little guy measured no longer than 80mm and no wider than 5mm. A newly featured membranous wing allows better adhesion and lateral stability. This winged inchworm was the InchBot-V (nano): InchFly. It does not fly at this moment. But one could easily imaging such a gliding potential from the wing area to mass ratio.