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An energetically-autonomous robotic tadpole with single membrane stomach and tail

Philamore, Hemma; Rossiter, Jonathan; Ieropoulos, Ioannis

An energetically-autonomous robotic tadpole with single membrane stomach and tail Thumbnail


Hemma Philamore

Jonathan Rossiter

Yannis Ieropoulos
Professor in Bioenergy & Director of B-B


© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015. We present an energetically autonomous robotic tadpole that uses a single membrane component for both electrical energy generation and propulsive actuation. The coupling of this small bio-inspired power source to a bio-inspired actuator demonstrates the first generation design for an energetically autonomous swimming robot consisting of a single membrane. An ionic polymer metal composite (IPMC) with a Nafion polymer layer is demonstrated in a novel application as the ion exchange membrane and anode and cathode electrode of a microbial fuel cell (MFC), whilst being used concurrently as an artificial muscle tail. In contrast to previous work using stacked units for increased voltage, a single MFC with novel, 0.88ml anode chamber architecture is used to generate suitable voltages for driving artificial muscle actuation, with minimal step up. This shows the potential of the small forces generated by IPMCs for propulsion of a bio-energy source. The work demonstrates great potential for reducing the mass and complexity of bio-inspired autonomous robots. The performance of the IPMC as an ion exchange membrane is compared to two conventional ion exchange membranes, Nafion and cation exchange membrane (CEM). The MFC anode and cathode show increased resistance following inclusion within the MFC environment.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (published)
Acceptance Date Jul 31, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Deposit Date May 26, 2016
Publicly Available Date Dec 9, 2016
Journal Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Print ISSN 0302-9743
Electronic ISSN 1611-3349
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9222
Pages 366-378
Book Title Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems
Keywords energetic-autonomy, ionic polymer metal composite, microbial fuel cell, soft robots
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Dec 2, 2016


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