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Bioinspir Biomim. 2013 Jun;8(2):026003. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/8/2/026003. Epub 2013 Mar 25.

Autonomous undulatory serpentine locomotion utilizing body dynamics of a fluidic soft robot.

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Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Soft robotics offers the unique promise of creating inherently safe and adaptive systems. These systems bring man-made machines closer to the natural capabilities of biological systems. An important requirement to enable self-contained soft mobile robots is an on-board power source. In this paper, we present an approach to create a bio-inspired soft robotic snake that can undulate in a similar way to its biological counterpart using pressure for actuation power, without human intervention. With this approach, we develop an autonomous soft snake robot with on-board actuation, power, computation and control capabilities. The robot consists of four bidirectional fluidic elastomer actuators in series to create a traveling curvature wave from head to tail along its body. Passive wheels between segments generate the necessary frictional anisotropy for forward locomotion. It takes 14 h to build the soft robotic snake, which can attain an average locomotion speed of 19 mm s(-1).

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