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Flea-Inspired Catapult Mechanism for Miniature Jumping Robots

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5 Author(s)
Minkyun Noh ; Sch. of Mech. & Aerosp. Eng., Seoul Nat. Univ., Seoul, South Korea ; Seung-Won Kim ; Sungmin An ; Je-Sung Koh
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Fleas can jump more than 200 times their body length. They do so by employing a unique catapult mechanism: storing a large amount of elastic energy and releasing it quickly by torque reversal triggering. This paper presents a flea-inspired catapult mechanism for miniature jumping robots. A robotic design was created to realize the mechanism for the biological catapult with shape memory alloy (SMA) spring actuators and a smart composite microstructure. SMA spring actuators replace conventional actuators, transmissions, and the elastic element to reduce the size. The body uses a four-bar mechanism that simulates a flea's leg kinematics with reduced degrees of freedom. Dynamic modeling was derived, and theoretical jumping was simulated to optimize the leg design for increased takeoff speed. A robotic prototype was fabricated with 1.1-g weight and 2-cm body size that can jump a distance of up to 30 times its body size.

Published in:

Robotics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:28 ,  Issue: 5 )