Publication Details

Alici, G. and Gunderson, D. (2009). A bio-inspired robotic locomotion system based on conducting polymer actuators. 2009 IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (pp. 998-1004). Singapore: IEEE.


This paper presents the conceptual design and testing of a bio-inspired locomotion system activated through ionic-type conducting polymer actuators, which can operate both in dry and wet environments. The locomotion system is proposed for a mini autonomous crawling device for applications typified by pipe inspection, search, inspection and data gathering in confined spaces, which require mini-robotic systems. The locomotion system is based on the cilia, which has a simple planar bending motion. This type of motion can be provided by bending-type polymer actuators (one-end fixed and the other-end free cantilever beam). The actuators mounted on a printed circuit board and powered according to a gait design similar to the motion of biological cilia create the legged locomotion system. As the actuators require a low electric power and have a small foot-print (no sophisticated electronics and any transmission mechanisms), they are especially suitable to establish wireless autonomous mini-robotic systems. The design methodology presented in this paper is offered as a guide to establish functional devices based on bio-inspiration and conducting polymer actuators. The successful testing of the propulsion concept in the prototype demonstrates that conducting polymer actuators, when engineered properly, can be used to build functional devices.

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