For me, mobile autonomous microrobots are defined as millimeter-sized
robots with power and control on board. These robots offer numerous
to their size and low power requirements. For example, millimeter-sized
microrobots could be used to add mobility to sensors in large-scale
networks as the size of those integrated sensors shrink as shown in the
Smart Dust Project.
As end users are beginning to deploy large scale sensor networks for
the first time, they are also beginning to discover how useful added
mobility can be. In the example of a network designed to study some
phenomenon in nature, scientists
often need to redeploy a network based on information gathered from it
(an animal spends most of its time in locations X and Y only). The same
ideas apply in a defense related application. In addition, users may
want sensors to move to locations other than where they were first
deployed to fill gaps in the network or cover obscured or hard to reach
areas. Large numbers of autonomous mobile microrobots could also be
for search in unstructured environments, surveillance, and micro
construction tasks (termites).
At the millimeter size scale, jumping can offer numerous advantages for
efficient locomotion, including dealing with obstacles and potentially
latching onto larger mobile hosts (larger robots, animals, vehicles,
etc). The design for an
effective jumping microrobot is divided
into four primary areas: energy
power, and control.
Like its biological inspiration, the flea, a jumping microrobot
requires an energy storage system to store energy and release it
quickly to jump. Silicone micro rubber bands have been fabricated and
assembled into the microrobot for this task. To stretch these micro
rubber bands, electrostatic inchworm motors are chosen as actuators due
to their high forces, long throw, and low input power requirements.
Finally, solar cells and a microcontroller have been chosen to power
and control the microrobot.
Bergbreiter, S.; Pister, K.S.J. "Design of an Autonomous
Jumping Microrobot," ICRA 2007, Rome, April 10-14, 2007.
Bergbreiter, S.; Pister, K.S.J. “An
Micromechanical Energy Storage System,” ASME 2006, Chicago,
IL, November 5-9, 2006.
quick release capabilities of the energy storage
system. The leg is first held in place by large electrostatic clamps
before release and shot an 0402-sized capacitor ~1.5cm along a glass
||Inchworm motor pulling an assembled micro rubber
band. Watch the parallel flexures on each side to see the 30um of
5nJ of energy is stored and released.
information on walking microrobots previously designed in our lab
can be found here.