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Proceedings Paper

Ionic polymer-metal composite enabled robotic manta ray
Author(s): Zheng Chen; Tae I. Um; Hilary Bart-Smith
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Paper Abstract

The manta ray, Manta birostris, demonstrates excellent swimming capabilities; generating highly efficient thrust via flapping of dorsally flattened pectoral fins. In this paper, we present an underwater robot that mimics the swimming behavior of the manta ray. An assembly-based fabrication method is developed to create the artificial pectoral fins, which are capable of generating oscillatory with a large twisting angle between leading and trailing edges. Ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC) actuators are used as artificial muscles in the fin. Each fin consists of four IPMC beams bonded with a compliant poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) membrane. By controlling each individual IPMC strips, we are able to generate complex flapping motions. The fin is characterized in terms of tip deflection, tip blocking force, twist angle, and power consumption. Based on the characteristics of the artificial pectoral fin, a small size and free-swimming robotic manta ray is developed. The robot consists of two artificial pectoral fins, a rigid body, and an on-board control unit with a lithium ion rechargeable battery. Experimental results show that the robot swam at a speed of up to 0.055 body length per second (BL/sec).

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 March 2011
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 7976, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2011, 797637 (29 March 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.880452
Show Author Affiliations
Zheng Chen, Univ. of Virginia (United States)
Tae I. Um, Univ. of Virginia (United States)
Hilary Bart-Smith, Univ. of Virginia (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7976:
Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2011
Yoseph Bar-Cohen; Federico Carpi, Editor(s)

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