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IEEE Trans Syst Man Cybern B Cybern. 2006 Oct;36(5):1044-52.

Design and control of an IPMC wormlike robot.

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Dipartimento di Ingegneria Elettrica Elettronica e dei Sistemi, Facoltà, di Ingegneria, Università Degli Studi di Catania, 95125 Catania, Italy.


This paper presents an innovative wormlike robot controlled by cellular neural networks (CNNs) and made of an ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC) self-actuated skeleton. The IPMC actuators, from which it is made of, are new materials that behave similarly to biological muscles. The idea that inspired the work is the possibility of using IPMCs to design autonomous moving structures. CNNs have already demonstrated their powerfulness as new structures for bio-inspired locomotion generation and control. The control scheme for the proposed IPMC moving structure is based on CNNs. The wormlike robot is totally made of IPMCs, and each actuator has to carry its own weight. All the actuators are connected together without using any other additional part, thereby constituting the robot structure itself. Worm locomotion is performed by bending the actuators sequentially from "tail" to "head," imitating the traveling wave observed in real-world undulatory locomotion. The activation signals are generated by a CNN. In the authors' opinion, the proposed strategy represents a promising solution in the field of autonomous and light structures that are capable of reconfiguring and moving in line with spatial-temporal dynamics generated by CNNs.

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