Science China Technological Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 8, pp 1401–1411 | Cite as

Variable-model SMA-driven spherical robot

  • Jie Pan
  • ZhenYun ShiEmail author
  • TianMiao Wang


In this paper, we introduce a bionic spherical robot. This research has been inspired by the muscular organs and modularity of organisms such as starfish and octopuses. The robot that we fabricated uses five soft feet to crawl like a starfish, and the robotic feet are driven by the shape memory alloy springs. The robotic spherical structure and the soft feet were fabricated by 3D printing. The robotic feet were made of silicone gel; these feet could bend upward and downward to help the robot to crawl on the ground and roll down a slope. The shell separation module installed inside the robot could divide the robot into two identical modules, and this smart structure could enhance the robotic flexibility in a small space. We performed force analysis and robotic simulation, and the results verified the feasibility of the model. The robot can switch between rigidity and softness by using human control. Three types of gaits have been proposed for controlling robotic movement and improving robotic flexibility in movement; these include rolling, crawling, and avoiding obstacles. The results of this study indicate that the variable-model design of the robot is an effective way to enhance the flexibility of soft robots.


bionic robot soft animals shape memory alloy smart structure variable model 


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Robotic LaboratoryBeihang UniversityBeijingChina

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