Miniature robots have many applications ranging from military surveillance to search and rescue in disaster areas. Nevertheless, the fabrication of such robots has traditionally been labor-intensive and time-consuming. This paper proposes to directly leverage multimaterial 3D printing (MM3P) to fabricate centimeter-scale robots by utilizing soft materials to create not only soft joints to replace revolute joints but also soft links to replace rigid links. We demonstrate the capability of MM3P by creating a miniature, four-legged walking robot. Moreover, we leverage a three-spring rotational-prismatic-rotational (RPR) model to approximate the motion of soft joints or links, which is further utilized to numerically predict the motion of the leg mechanism with multiple soft joints and links. The accuracy of the proposed numerical method is validated with experimental results, and outperforms the results from using a psuedorigid-body (PRB) 1R model to approximate the motion of soft joints/links of the same mechanism. Meanwhile, a functional walking robot actuated by a single DC motor is demonstrated with a locomotion speed of 5.7 cm/s. We envision that the concept of employing both soft joints and links will inspire the design and realization of novel miniature mechanisms for a wide range of applications including robotics, deployable structures, or mechanical metamaterials. The proposed numerical method can also be readily applied to analyze other mechanisms with soft joints and links.
Development and Analysis of a Three-Dimensional Printed Miniature Walking Robot With Soft Joints and Links
Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANISMS AND ROBOTICS. Manuscript received April 13, 2017; final manuscript received March 14, 2018; published online April 18, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Robert J. Wood.
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DeMario, A., and Zhao, J. (April 18, 2018). "Development and Analysis of a Three-Dimensional Printed Miniature Walking Robot With Soft Joints and Links." ASME. J. Mechanisms Robotics. August 2018; 10(4): 041005. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4039773
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