Research Papers

Helical Kirigami-Enabled Centimeter-Scale Worm Robot With Shape-Memory-Alloy Linear Actuators

[+] Author and Article Information
Ketao Zhang

Centre for Robotics Research,
King's College London,
University of London,
Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK
e-mail: ketao.zhang@kcl.ac.uk

Chen Qiu

Centre for Robotics Research,
King's College London,
University of London,
Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK
e-mail: chen.qiu@kcl.ac.uk

Jian S. Dai

Centre for Robotics Research,
King's College London,
University of London,
Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK
e-mail: jian.dai@kcl.ac.uk

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received August 15, 2014; final manuscript received December 23, 2014; published online February 27, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Aaron M. Dollar.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 7(2), 021014 (May 01, 2015) (10 pages) Paper No: JMR-14-1217; doi: 10.1115/1.4029494 History: Received August 15, 2014; Revised December 23, 2014; Online February 27, 2015

The wormlike robots are capable of imitating amazing locomotion of slim creatures. This paper presents a novel centimeter-scale worm robot inspired by a kirigami parallel structure with helical motion. The motion characteristics of the kirigami structure are unravelled by analyzing the equivalent kinematic model in terms of screw theory. This reveals that the kirigami parallel structure with three degrees-of-freedom (DOF) motion is capable of implementing both peristalsis and inchworm-type motion. In light of the revealed motion characteristics, a segmented worm robot which is able to imitate contracting motion, bending motion of omega shape and twisting motion in nature is proposed by integrating kirigami parallel structures successively. Following the kinematic and static characteristics of the kirigami structure, actuation models are explored by employing the linear shape-memory-alloy (SMA) coil springs and the complete procedure for determining the geometrical parameters of the SMA coil springs. Actuation phases for the actuation model with two SMA springs are enumerated and with four SMA springs are calculated based on the Burnside's lemma. In this paper, a prototype of the worm robot with three segments is presented together with a paper-made body structure and integrated SMA coil springs. This centimeter-scale prototype of the worm robot is lightweight and can be used in confined environments for detection and inspection. The study presents an interesting approach of integrating SMA actuators in kirigami-enabled parallel structures for the development of compliant and miniaturized robots.

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Fig. 1

2D crease pattern with jointed rectangular woven design

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Fig. 2

The folding process of the designed 3D kirigami fold from a flat cardboard with the crease pattern: (a) θi = 0 (i = 1, 2, 3), (b) 0 < θi < π (i = 1, 2, 3), (c) θi = π (i = 1, 2, 3), and (d) θi = π (i = 1, 2, 3, 4)

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Fig. 3

A symmetric kirigami structure erected from flat cardboard

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Fig. 4

An equivalent parallel mechanism extracted from the kirigami structure

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Fig. 5

Motion characteristics of the kirigami structure: (a) 1DOF helical motion of the platform and motions of side panels and (b) geometric model of the helical motion

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Fig. 6

Simplified hybrid parallel structure of a worm robot with three segments connected in serial: (a) view of original configuration, (b) view of contract in x-axis direction with sequential and bending motion, and (c) right view of the shifting in y-axis direction

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Fig. 7

Actuation models of the kirigami structure: (a) model with four SMA actuators and (b) model with two spring actuators

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Fig. 8

Prototype and static analysis of the kirigami structure: (a) a paper model with a bias element and (b) model for actuation force analysis

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Fig. 9

The force, deflection of SMA actuators associated with the twisting of upper platform

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Fig. 10

Flowchart of the procedure for determining geometrical parameters of SMA springs

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Fig. 11

Prototype of the novel segmented worm robot: (a) individual segment with SMA actuators and (b) integration of three kirigami structures

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Fig. 12

Contraction induced by the helical motion

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Fig. 13

Bending motion of the kirigami structure: (a) two distinct configurations and (b) sequential stop figures of different configurations (edge detection of an experiment video)

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Fig. 14

Bending and twisting motion of the kirigami-enabled worm robot: (a) original configuration, (b) bending of the body structure, and (c) bending induced contraction




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