A 5-mm Untethered Crawling Robot via Self-Excited Electrostatic Vibration


The grand challenge toward the miniaturization of untethered robots is the lack of a proper actuation system that can effectively transform the limited onboard energy into an untethered movement of the whole body. Here, in this article, we present an insect scale, 5-mm-long, and 9.4 mg in body mass untethered crawling robot powered by a 37 mg onboard ceramic capacitor. With high electromechanical efficiency by utilizing self-excited electrostatic vibration, the prototype device can be directly powered by an onboard capacitor without any boost or frequency conversion circuitry, and forward movements have been achieved at an average moving speed of 5.9 mm/s for 1.68 s. The maneuverability of locomotion from solid ground to water and different moving directional controls via the leg designs have been demonstrated for the advancements in the field of millimeter-scale robotics research.

Yangsheng Zhu
Zhiwei Liu
Jianmei Huang
Dawei Huang
Xiaojun Yan
Publication date: 
July 2, 2021
Publication type: 
Journal Article
Y. Zhu et al., "A 5-mm Untethered Crawling Robot via Self-Excited Electrostatic Vibration," in IEEE Transactions on Robotics, doi: 10.1109/TRO.2021.3088053.

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