Kinematic Analysis of VibroBot: A Soft, Hopping Robot with Stiffness- and Shape-Changing Abilities

Abstract

Bouncing locomotion is used frequently in the animal kingdom for high-speed movement over land. Animals also change their stiffness and shape to improve their locomotion ability. Both bouncing movement and stiffnessand shape-changing capabilities have been recently explored in robotics. In this article, a novel soft locomotion robot, VibroBot, is presented, capable of moving using a bouncing gait by inducing whole-body oscillations through rotation of an internal out-of-balance mass. VibroBot is capable of changing both its stiffness and its shape to tackle challenging terrain and to overcome obstacles. When the robot is stiff, it is capable of high-frequency oscillatory locomotion suited to movement on hard surfaces. While in a compliant state, it uses a lower-frequency higher-amplitude hopping gait suitable for traveling over soft or loose ground. Forward speeds of 8.5 cm/s (0.34 body lengths/second) on hard floor in VibroBot’s stiff state and 5 cm/s (0.2 body lengths/second) on sand in its compliant state were recorded. VibroBot can also selectively change its shape to climb obstacles with heights up to 3 cm (20% of the robot’s height in its stiff state), far greater than its hopping apex height (1 cm). Both simple bouncing gaits and stiffnessand shape-changing abilities show great promise for improving the locomotion abilities of soft robots.

DOI: 10.3389/frobt.2016.00060

Cite this paper

@article{Khnel2016KinematicAO, title={Kinematic Analysis of VibroBot: A Soft, Hopping Robot with Stiffness- and Shape-Changing Abilities}, author={Djen Timo K{\"{u}hnel and Tim Helps and Jonathan Rossiter}, journal={Front. Robotics and AI}, year={2016}, volume={2016} }