David is pursuing his PhD in the Pister group at UC Berkeley. He graduated from the University of Washington in 2007 and spent several years in government and academic research, including positions at Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore and McMurdo Station, Antarctica. His research interests include wireless sensor networks, data fusion, MEMS design, and robotics. He is formerly a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) fellow.
Walking Silicon Microrobots [BPN735]
The field of MEMS-based robotics has yet to produce a truly autonomous synthetic walking microrobot. This project seeks to develop a new generation of MEMS walking microrobots using simple processing techniques. These robots will be based on electrostatic linear actuators that will drive planar silicon linkages, all fabricated in the device layer of a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer. By using electrostatic actuation, these legs will have the advantage of being low power compared to other microrobot leg designs. This is key to granting the robot autonomy through low-power energy harvesting. The ultimate goal will be to join these silicon legs with a CMOS brain and a high voltage solar cell array to achieve a fully autonomous walking microrobot. Current work is focused on characterizing the vertical force output and frictional losses of the planar SOI joints and linkages. We have demonstrated a 2 degree- of-freedom leg with motors in 30 square millimeters of silicon, with a vertical range of travel of 300Ám and a horizontal range of travel of 1mm. Forces along the vertical axis have been measured to be over 200ÁN.