Xiaohao Wang/Liwei Lin Group in TBSI Develop Insect-Inspired Soft Robot

August 05 2019

Inspired by cockroaches, Xiaohao Wang/Liwei Lin group in Lab 2a, TBSI have developed a fast-moving soft robot that can withstand being stood on by an adult. The result is published on Science Robotics.

Driven by an alternating current, the blade-shaped robot moves with a cockroachlike bouncing motion at a speed of 20 body lengths per second. The new robot, which is 10-30 millimeters long and weighs around 20-60 microgram, is composed of a flexible piezoelectric thin film and a polymer skeleton with one or two legs.

The robot is able to climb 7.5° slopes at a speed of seven body lengths per second, carry loads up to six times its own weight, and withstand the weight of an adult human foot, approximately 1 million times heavier than the robot itself. After combined with microsensors, these features set up the robot for potential application in environmental exploration and disaster relief, the fields in which its size, agility and resilience would be invaluable to help detect for example, survivors trapped beneath the rubble in earthquake.

Yichuan Wu, the PhD student in Lab 2a, TBSI, is the first author of this work. Min Zhang, Junwen Zhong and Liwei Lin are the corresponding authors. With an impact factor of 19.4, Science Robotics is the most prestigious journal in the field of soft robot.

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