BPN735: Walking Silicon Microrobots


This project focuses on developing a new generation of millimeter scale MEMS-based autonomous walking robots with self-righting capability. These robots are based on electrostatic actuators driving planar silicon linkages, all fabricated in the device layer of a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer. By using electrostatic actuation, these legs have the advantage of being low power compared to other microrobot leg designs. This is key to granting the robot autonomy through low-power energy harvesting. The ultimate goal will be to join these silicon legs with a CMOS brain, battery power, a high voltage power source, and high voltage buffers to achieve a fully autonomous walking microrobot. After demonstrating locomotion of a single-legged walking robot through tethered external power, we developed a first generation silicon hexapod based on multi-chip assembly and showed it take its first steps. We have also demonstrated electrostatic inchworm motors capable of actuating a shuttle at 0.4m/s. We have also developed a quadruped walking robot that uses zero insertion force (ZIF) MEMS socket designs for assembly. We are now developing multi-gaited quadrupedal walking robots with the capability of self-righting when overturned also assembled with the ZIF socket assembly system. To build this quadruped robot, we are developing a seven SOI fabrication process that would allow for an optimized robotic leg design.

Project currently supported by: Federal

Stephen Chung
Yun-Chieh Lee
Dang Le
Publication date: 
March 13, 2023
Publication type: 
BSAC Project Materials (Current)
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