Research press release


Nature Communications

Robotics: A legless soft robot capable of rapid, continuous, and steered jumping

外部から操縦可能な跳躍を素早く連続して実行する能力を備えた無脚ソフトロボットについて報告する論文が、Nature Communications に掲載される。今回の知見は、係留型ロボットが、さまざまな様式の移動運動を機敏に行えるようにするための新しい方法をもたらしている。


今回、Rui Chenたちは、フレキシブルな電気駆動の液再分配器を動力源として、前方に跳躍できる内部構造を持つロボット(重さ1グラム、長さ6.5センチメートル)を開発し、このロボットが、自身の身長の7.68倍の高さの跳躍ができ、1秒間に体長の6倍の距離という速度で前方への跳躍を連続して行えることを明らかにした。また、Chenたちは、このロボットが斜面、ワイヤー、砂利の山、成形立方体などの障害物を飛び越えられることを実証した。2台のアクチュエーター(ロボットを動かす部品)を連結すると、このロボットは、毎秒138.4度の旋回速度で操縦された通りの跳躍を行うことができた。


A legless soft robot capable of rapid, continuous, and steerable jumping is reported in Nature Communications. The findings provide a novel approach to produce agile multimodal locomotion in a tethered model robot.

Jumping is important for some robots to extend navigation range, overcome obstacles, and adapt to unstructured environments. Until now, enhancing the jumping height and distance of soft robots to improve their ability to cross obstacles, while also maintaining the ability to control their jumping frequency to increase manoeuvrability and navigation, has been challenging.

Rui Chen and colleagues developed a robot weighing 1 gram and measuring 6.5 centimetres in length with an internal structure that enables it to jump forward, powered by flexible, electrical-driven liquid redistribution. The authors show that the robot is capable of jumping 7.68 times its own body height and has a continuous forward jumping speed of 6 body lengths per second. They also demonstrate that the robot is able to cross obstacles including slopes, wires, gravel mounds and shaped cubes. By coupling together two actuators (a component that makes the robot move), the robot was capable of steered jumping at a speed of 138.4 degrees per second.

Chen and co-authors also demonstrate that other functional electronic devices, such as sensors, can be integrated into the actuators for diverse applications such as detecting environmental changes, and suggest further structural optimizations can be made to improve the jumping performance of soft robots. Future research into tetherless alternatives would advance the versatility of these soft robots, the authors conclude.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-27265-w


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