Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

An Energetically-Autonomous Robotic Tadpole with Single Membrane Stomach and Tail

Philamore, Hemma; Rossiter, Jonathan; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


Hemma Philamore

Jonathan Rossiter


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.


Philamore, H., Rossiter, J., & Ieropoulos, I. (2015). An Energetically-Autonomous Robotic Tadpole with Single Membrane Stomach and Tail. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, 9222, 366-378.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 31, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Journal Lecture Notes in Computer Science: 4th International Conference, Living Machines 2015, Barcelona, Spain, July 28 - 31, 2015, Proceedings
Print ISSN 0302-9743
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


You might also like

Downloadable Citations