The purpose of this thesis was to research, select, and test an actuator mechanism for ultimate use on a centimeter scale biomimetic rolling robot. The design of the actuator will allow a rolling motion that closely mimics cellular locomotion in addition to providing a novel motion for other applications. The basis of the design has been completed through previous mechanical design research. The existing robotic mechanism consists of a larger scale spherical body with legs which controllably extend and contract, yielding a trajectory which results in a rolling motion of the body. The previous research also derived a mathematical model of the kinematics of the motion. The current work seeks to improve on the previous work by selecting an actuation mechanism that preserves the biomimetic motion and that allows this device to eventually be utilized at the microscale. Material selection is of critical importance in developing actuation mechanisms at the microscale. Smart materials were extensively researched because of their actuation properties. Based on the strain percentage, power requirement, and force output, it was determined that the preferable actuation material was an electroactive polymer (EAP). Samples of Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite (IPMC), a type of EAP, were then fabricated, purchased, and tested. Test results from this work will enable future actuator designs and configurations to be fabricated with predicted results. This research also provided a basis for further mechanical design of the rolling robot with the incorporation of EAP actuators. Lastly, future work of combining sensors with the design, therefore compounding capabilities, of the rolling robot is discussed.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Actuator--Evaluation; Robots--Design and construction; Robots--Motion; Conducting polymers
Department, Program, or Center
Center for Materials Science and Engineering
Dotson, Zachary S., "Material selection for the actuator design for a biomimetic rolling robot conducive to miniaturization" (2009). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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