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Proceedings Paper

Development of a biomimetic underwater ambulatory robot: advantages of matching biomimetic control architecture with biomimetic actuators
Author(s): Jan H. Witting; Joseph Ayers; Koray Safak
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Paper Abstract

The American Lobster Homarus americanus is a highly mobile marine decapod, ubiquitous to the benthic environment of the eastern North Atlantic. Lobsters occupy a range of subtidal habitats on the continental shelf, and are capable of navigating through spatially complex boulder fields, as well as coping with variable water currents. Given these competencies, we have adopted the lobster as a design model for a biomimetic autonomous underwater vehicle intended for operation in similar environments. A central motor pattern generator model was developed from electromyographic data from lobsters, and is being implemented on an eight-legged ambulatory vehicle. The vehicle uses Nitinol shape-memory alloy wires as linear actuators, physically modeling the antagonistic muscle pairs of a lobster leg. The contraction of the wires is produced by heating them with an electrical current. This produces a change in the crystalline structure of the material from a martensite to an austenite state, resulting in a 5% contraction of the wire. Three pairs of wires are used around three joints to produce a three-degrees-of-freedom walking leg. Current drivers power the actuators, and pulse-width modulation is used to obtain graded contractions from the muscles. The combination of a biologically based control system coupled with a linear actuator sharing many characteristics of invertebrate muscle tissue has enabled us to construct a biomimetic ambulatory robot sharing some of the competencies of the model.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 October 2000
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 4196, Sensor Fusion and Decentralized Control in Robotic Systems III, (16 October 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.403748
Show Author Affiliations
Jan H. Witting, Northeastern Univ. (United States)
Joseph Ayers, Northeastern Univ. (United States)
Koray Safak, Northeastern Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4196:
Sensor Fusion and Decentralized Control in Robotic Systems III
Gerard T. McKee; Paul S. Schenker, Editor(s)

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