towards rapid mechanical customization of cm-scale self-folding agents

Department: Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Michael T. Tolley

Primary Student
Name: William Peter Westondawkes
Phone: 858-534-1355
Grad Year: 2020

Large robotic collectives provide advantages such as resilience to mechanical failure of single agents and increased capabilities for search and coverage based applications. However, a lack of rapid and free-form manufacturing processes remains a barrier to high-volume fabrication of mechanically heterogeneous robotic swarms. Self-folding laser-machined structures have the potential to enable heterogeneous robotic swarms. As an initial step to realizing a functional robotic collective, we focus on the design and characterization of the locomotion of an individual laminate manufactured robot. We look to a vibration-based locomotion technique that uses flexible structures or bristles to enhance the effects of vibration, allowing for fast locomotion (i.e. a "bristle-bot"). However, previous bristle-bot implementations have not allowed for controllable steering behaviors with high locomotion speeds. We describe the extension of existing two dimensional bristle-bot models to a three dimensional model that explores parameters that govern linear and angular velocity. We implement an autonomous laminate-manufactured bristle-bot inspired robot capable of linear velocities of up to 23 cm/s and turning rates of 2 rad/s. Moving towards automated manufacturing, we also demonstrate a self-folding bristle-bot structure that uses a linear compression laminate to achieve a uniform leg fold angle.

Industry Application Area(s)
Aerospace, Defense, Security | Control Systems | Robotics

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