An Energetically-Autonomous Robotic Tadpole with Single Membrane Stomach and Tail

Philamore, H., Rossiter, J. and Ieropoulos, I. (2015) An Energetically-Autonomous Robotic Tadpole with Single Membrane Stomach and Tail. Lecture Notes in Computer Science: 4th International Conference, Living Machines 2015, Barcelona, Spain, July 28 - 31, 2015, Proceedings, 9222. pp. 366-378. ISSN 0302-9743 Available from:

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We present an energetically autonomous robotic tadpole that uses a single membrane component for both electrical energy generation and propulsive actuation. The coupling of this small bio-inspired power source to a bio-inspired actuator demonstrates the first generation design for an energetically autonomous swimming robot consisting of a single membrane. An ionic polymer metal composite (IPMC) with a Nafion polymer layer is demonstrated in a novel application as the ion exchange membrane and anode and cathode electrode of a microbial fuel cell (MFC), whilst being used concurrently as an artificial muscle tail. In contrast to previous work using stacked units for increased voltage, a single MFC with novel, 0.88ml anode chamber architecture is used to generate suitable voltages for driving artificial muscle actuation, with minimal step up. This shows the potential of the small forces generated by IPMCs for propulsion of a bio-energy source. The work demonstrates great potential for reducing the mass and complexity of bio-inspired autonomous robots. The performance of the IPMC as an ion exchange membrane is compared to two conventional ion exchange membranes, Nafion and cation exchange membrane (CEM). The MFC anode and cathode show increased resistance following inclusion within the MFC environment.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:energetic-autonomy, ionic polymer metal composite, microbial fuel cell, soft robots
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Environment and Technology > Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics
ID Code:28942
Deposited By: B. Jones
Deposited On:26 May 2016 13:41
Last Modified:22 Dec 2016 12:57

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