With recent advances in miniaturized wireless system-on-chips, microactuators, sensors, and power supplies, autonomous microrobotic systems that can independently explore spaces and process information are approaching fruition. These systems, which can be smaller than1 cubic centimeter, require actuation and localization modalities that are compatible with these strict payload and size requirements. The first part of this dissertation focuses on the development of millimeter-scale aerodynamic control surfaces actuated by electrostatic inchworm motors, intended for controlling pencil-size microrockets. The design and assembly process of these MEMS control surfaces is detailed, and they are demonstrated to produce0.48 mN of aerodynamic lift force and induce a roll maneuver on a miniature rocket system.
The second part of this dissertation focuses on the localization of microrobotic systems using the Single Chip Micro Mote (SCµM) and HTC Vive lighthouse localization beacons. The 5 mg SCµM is a 2 mm x 3 mm x 0.3 mm wireless system-on-chip that is a suitable control, computation, and communication platform for microrobotic systems. Its integrated optical receiver, originally designed to enable contact-free programming, can be used to detect structured infrared light pulses generated by HTC Vive lighthouse stations, which are commonly used for tracking users in virtual reality systems. With this light pulse information, the SCµM system can then localize itself relative to the lighthouse base stations. The development and performance of this system, which can provide localization accuracy of up to 3.1 cm, is discussed in this part of the dissertation. Continuing work on utilizing sensor fusion algorithms to incorporate inertial measurement unit (IMU) data into this localization system is also discussed. Finally, cooperative lighthouse localization methods are discussed for use in teams of resource-constrained robots.