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Proceedings Paper

Biologically inspired hexapedal robot using field-effect electroactive elastomer artificial muscles
Author(s): Joseph Eckerle; Scott Stanford; John Marlow; Roger Schmidt; Seajin Oh; Thomas Low; Subramanian Venkat Shastri
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Paper Abstract

Small, autonomous mobile robots are needed for applications such as reconnaissance over difficult terrain or internal inspection of large industrial systems. Previous work in experimental biology and with legged robots has revealed the advantages of using leg actuators with inherent compliance for robust, autonomous locomotion over uneven terrain. Recently developed field-effect electroactive elastomer artificial muscle actuators offer such compliance as well as attractive performance parameters such as force/weight and efficiency, so we developed a small (670 g) six-legged robot, FLEX, using AM actuators. Electrically, AM actuators are a capacitive, high-impedance load similar to piezoelectrics, which makes them difficult to rive optimally with conventional circuitry. Still, we were able to devise a modular, microprocessor-based control system capable of driving 12 muscles with up to 5,000 V, operating form an on- board battery. The artificial muscle actuators had excellent compliance and peak performance, but suffered from poor uniformity and degradation over time. FLEX is the first robot of its kind. While there is room for improvement in some of the robot systems such as actuators and their drivers, this work has validated the idea of using artificial muscle actuators in biologically inspired walking robots.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 June 2001
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4332, Smart Structures and Materials 2001: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies, (14 June 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.429666
Show Author Affiliations
Joseph Eckerle, SRI International (United States)
Scott Stanford, SRI International (United States)
John Marlow, SRI International (United States)
Roger Schmidt, SRI International (United States)
Seajin Oh, SRI International (United States)
Thomas Low, SRI International (United States)
Subramanian Venkat Shastri, SRI International (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4332:
Smart Structures and Materials 2001: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies
Anna-Maria Rivas McGowan, Editor(s)

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