Our goal is to build a family of autonomous silicon robotic insects.
These robots use 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 is to join these silicon legs with the Single Chip microMote (SCuM, BPN803) for computation and communication and a Zappy2 chip with solar cell arrays and high voltage level shifters to allow SCuM to drive the electrostatic motors. Current designs include mechanisms and actuators for self-righting the bugs if they fall over, and a dual crab-leg structure driven by a single inchworm motor. A new process is being developed which allows robots to be constructed of two SOI layers connected with gold/gold thermocompression bonds, and no substrate.
Project currently supported by: Federal