Towards energetically autonomous foraging soft robots

Philamore, H., Ieropoulos, I., Stinchcombe, A. and Rossiter, J. (2016) Towards energetically autonomous foraging soft robots. Soft Robotics, 3 (4). pp. 186-197. ISSN 2169-5172 Available from:

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A significant goal of robotics is to develop autonomous machines, capable of independent and collective operation free from human assistance. To operate with complete autonomy robots must be capable of independent movement and total energy self-sufficiency. We present the design of a soft robotic mouth and artificial stomach for aquatic robots that will allow them to feed on biomatter in their surrounding environment. The robot is powered by electrical energy generated through bacterial respiration within a microbial fuel cell (MFC) stomach, and harvested using state-of-the-art voltage step-up electronics. Through innovative exploitation of compliant, biomimetic actuation, the soft robotic feeding mechanism enables the connection of multiple MFC stomachs in series configuration in an aquatic environment, previously a significant challenge. We investigate how a similar soft robotic feeding mechanism could be driven by electroactive polymer artificial muscles from the same bioenergy supply. This work demonstrates the potential for energetically autonomous soft robotic artificial organisms and sets the stage for radically different future robots.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Final publication is available from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers
Uncontrolled Keywords:MFC, microbial fuel cell, robot, robotics, autonomous, autonomous machines, aquatic robot, energy autonomy
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Environment and Technology > Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics
ID Code:29523
Deposited By: J.-M. Maheu
Deposited On:16 Aug 2016 07:36
Last Modified:20 Oct 2017 00:15

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