Development of a biomimetic miniature robotic crawler Article First Online: 28 August 2006 Accepted: 27 January 2006 DOI:
Cite this article as: Menciassi, A., Accoto, D., Gorini, S. et al. Auton Robot (2006) 21: 155. doi:10.1007/s10514-006-7846-9 Abstract
The paper presents the development of segmented artificial crawlers endowed with passive hook-shaped frictional microstructures. The goal is to find design rules for fabricating biomimetic, adaptable and mobile machines mimicking segmented animals with hydrostatic skeleton, and intended to move effectively along unstructured substrates.
The paper describes the mechanical model, the design and the fabrication of a SMA-actuated segmented microrobot, whose locomotion is inspired by the peristaltic motion of Annelids, and in particular of earthworms (
Lumbricus Terrestris). Experimental locomotion performance are compared with theoretical performance predicted by a purposely developed friction model -taking into account design parameters such as number of segments, body mass, special friction enhancement appendixes—and with locomotion performance of real earthworms as presented in literature.
Experiments indicate that the maximum speed of the crawler prototype is 2.5 mm/s, and that 3-segment crawlers have almost the same velocity as earthworms having the same weight (and about 330% their length), whereas 4-segment crawlers have the same velocity, expressed as
body lengths/s, as earthworms with the same mass (and about 270% their length). Arianna Menciassi (MS, 1995; PhD, 1999) joined the CRIM Lab of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa, Italy) as a Ph.D. student in Bioengineering with a research program on the micromanipulation of mechanical and biological micro-objects. The main results of the activity on micromanipulation were presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics & Automation (May 2001, Seoul) in a paper titled “Force Feedback-based Microinstrument for Measuring Tissue Properties and Pulse in Microsurgery”, which won the “ICRA2001 Best Manipulation Paper Award”. In the year 2000, she was offered a position of Assistant Professor in Biomedical Robotics at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and in June 2006 she obtained a promotion to Associate Professor. Her main research interests are in the field of biomedical microrobotics, biomimetics, microfabrication technologies, micromechatronics and microsystem technologies. She is working on several European projects and international projects for the development of minimally invasive instrumentation for medical applications and for the exploitation of micro- and nano-technologies in the medical field. Samuele Gorini received his Laurea Degree in Mechanical Engineering (with honors) from the University of Pisa, Italy, in 2001. In 2005 he obtained the Ph.D. in Microsystem Engineering with a thesis on locomotion methods and systems for miniaturised endoscopic devices. Since 2000, he has been working at the CRIM Lab of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy. His research interests are in the field of biomedical robotics with a special focus on actuation technologies. Starting from the year 2004 he has been president of Era Endoscopy S.r.l., a start-up company of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna developing novel devices for endoscopy. Dino Accoto (MS 1998, PhD 2002) is Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Scuola Sant’Anna (Pisa, Italy). He received the Laurea degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pisa (cum laude) in 1998, the diploma in Engineering from the Scuola Sant’Anna (cum laude) in 1999 and the PhD degree from the Scuola Sant’Anna in 2002. From October 2001 to September 2002 he has been visiting scholar at the RPL-Lab, Stanford University (Ca, USA). Since 2004 he cooperates with the Biomedical Robotics & EMC Lab at Campus Bio-Medico University in Rome. His main research field is the modelling and development of small electromechanical systems, with a special attention to multi-physics and multi-domain approaches. The research, often inspired by the analysis of natural mechanisms, has been mainly applied to hybridizing microtechnologies, including microfluidics, and robotics. He has co-authored more than 30 papers, appeared in international journals and conference proceedings. Paolo Dario received his Dr. Eng. Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pisa, Italy, in 1977. He is currently a Professor of Biomedical Robotics at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa.. He also teaches courses at the School of Engineering of the University of Pisa and at the Campus Biomedico University in Rome. He has been Visiting Professor at Brown University, Providence, RI, USA, at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland, at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, at the College de France, Paris, and at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Cachan, France. He was the founder of the ARTS (Advanced Robotics Technologies and Systems) Laboratory and is currently the Co-ordinator of the CRIM (Center for the Research in Microengineering) Laboratory of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, where he supervises a team of about 70 researchers and Ph.D. students. His main research interests are in the fields of medical robotics, bio-robotics, mechatronics and micro/nanoengineering, and specifically in sensors and actuators for the above applications, and in robotics for rehabilitation. He is the coordinator of many national and European projects, the editor of two books on the subject of robotics, and the author of more than 200 scientific papers (75 on ISI journals). He is Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor and member of the Editorial Board of many international journals. Prof. Dario has served as President of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society in the years 2002–2003. He has been the General Chair of the IEEE RAS-EMBS BioRob’06 Conference and he is the General Co-Chair of ICRA 2007 Conference. Prof. Dario is an IEEE Fellow, a Fellow of the European Society on Medical and Biological Engineering, and a recipient of many honors and awards, such as the Joseph Engelberger Award. He is also a member of the Board of the International Foundation of Robotics Research (IFRR).