Piezoelectric Soft Robot Inchworm Motion by Tuning Ground Friction Through Robot Shape: Quasi-Static Modeling and Experimental Validation

Zhiwu Zheng, Prakhar Kumar, Yenan Chen, Hsin Cheng, Sigurd Wagner, Minjie Chen, Naveen Verma, James C. Sturm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Electrically-driven soft robots based on piezoelectric actuators may enable compact form factors and maneuverability in complex environments. In most prior work, piezoelectric actuators are used to control a single degree of freedom. In this work, the coordinated activation of five independent piezoelectric actuators, attached to a common metal foil, is used to implement inchworm-inspired crawling motion in a robot that is less than 0.5 mm thick. The motion is based on the control of its friction to the ground through the robot's shape, in which one end of the robot (depending on its shape) is anchored to the ground by static friction, while the rest of its body expands or contracts. A complete analytical model of the robot shape, which includes gravity, and contact is developed to quantify the robot shape, friction, and displacement. After validation of the model by experiments, the robot's five actuators are collectively sequenced for inchworm-like forward and backward motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2339-2356
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Volume40
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Keywords

  • Biologically-inspired robots
  • control
  • learning for soft robots
  • modeling
  • piezoelectrics
  • soft robot materials and design

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