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MEMS Seminars Presents: The Challenging Path to Creating Autonomous and Controllable Microrobots
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Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 9:00am to 10:00am
Néstor O. Pérez-Arancibia
Biological machines, in particular insects, still surpass their robotic counterparts in almost every aspect, including power conversion, actuation, sensing, and control. For instance, the most advanced insect-scale microrobots have yet to achieve the capabilities observed in honeybees and beetles. No subgram robot has been reported to autonomously complete tasks that are challenging or useful for humans, and the vision of creating truly autonomous artificial insects will become a reality only once several long-standing challenges are overcome. In this talk, I will present recent results that represent breakthroughs in power, actuation, and control at the subgram scale, which enabled the creation of three new microrobots with unique and important characteristics from the autonomy perspective. First, I will discuss the design, fabrication, and control of Bee+, a 95-mg flying robot which is the first and only fully controllable four-winged artificial insect driven by four independent actuators, weighing less than 100 mg. Next, I will present the development of RoBeetle, an 88-mg microrobot which is the lightest autonomous (from the energy and control perspectives) crawler ever created, and one of the smallest. RoBeetle is driven by a micro artificial muscle that combines the high work densities of shape-memory alloys (SMAs) with the capability to use sources of power with high energy densities. Last, I will present SMALLBug, the lightest (30 mg), smallest and fastest microrobot