Insect-scale fast moving and ultrarobust soft robot

Yichuan Wu, Justin K. Yim, Jiaming Liang, Zhichun Shao, Mingjing Qi, Junwen Zhong, Zihao Luo, Xiaojun Yan, Min Zhang, Xiaohao Wang, Ronald S. Fearing, Robert J. Full, Liwei Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mobility and robustness are two important features for practical applications of robots. Soft robots made of polymeric materials have the potential to achieve both attributes simultaneously. Inspired by nature, this research presents soft robots based on a curved unimorph piezoelectric structure whose relative speed of 20 body lengths per second is the fastest measured among published artificial insect-scale robots. The soft robot uses several principles of animal locomotion, can carry loads, climb slopes, and has the sturdiness of cockroaches. After withstanding the weight of an adult footstep, which is about 1 million times heavier than that of the robot, the system survived and continued to move afterward. The relatively fast locomotion and robustness are attributed to the curved unimorph piezoelectric structure with large amplitude vibration, which advances beyond other methods. The design principle, driving mechanism, and operating characteristics can be further optimized and extended for improved performances, as well as used for other flexible devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaax1594
JournalScience Robotics
Issue number32
StatePublished - Jul 31 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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