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We describe a walking microrobot that is propelled by cilialike thermal bimorph actuator arrays. The robot consists of two actuator array chips, each having an 8 × 8 array of “motion pixels,” which are composed of four orthogonally oriented cilia. Each group of unidirectional cilia is controlled independently for each chip, which provides planar motion with three degrees of freedom (x, y, θ). The robot is approximately 3 cm in length, 1 cm in width, and 0.9 mm in height and has a mass of 0.5 g. By varying the actuation frequency and motion gait strategy, the direction and velocity of the motion can be controlled. In this paper, we present the system architecture, control mechanism, and modeling of the robot, as well as experimental results, during linear and rotary motion. The robot can carry loads up to seven times its own mass, and it can operate at speeds up to 250 μm/s with step sizes from 1 to 4 μm.
Date of Publication: June 2010