Low-Voltage Activation Based on Electrohydrodynamics in Positioning Systems for Untethered Robots
Keita Abe*, Yumeta Seki**, Yu Kuwajima**, Ayato Minaminosono**, Shingo Maeda**, and Hiroki Shigemune*
*Active Functional Devices Laboratory, Shibaura Institute of Technology
3-7-5 Toyosu, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-8548, Japan
**Smart Materials Laboratory, Shibaura Institute of Technology
3-7-5 Toyosu, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-8548, Japan
In recent years, untethered soft robots, free of the lines that restrict their mobility, have been studied extensively. Our research team has been focusing on the electrohydrodynamic phenomena (EHD) as a driving mechanism for untethered robots. EHD is a phenomenon in which a flow is generated by applying a high voltage to a dielectric liquid. We propose a method to drive a robot in an untethered manner using EHD by vertically stacking two types of liquids: conductive and dielectric. This method is simpler, more energy-efficient, and quieter than conventional systems. Although a lower voltage would prevent the enlargement of the system by limiting the electronic components, the generation of EHD requires a high voltage. Therefore, in this study, to realize the low voltage drive of untethered robots dominated by the electrostatic actuator, we tackled the reduction of the driving voltage by investigating the phenomenon. As a result, we achieved low voltage driving at 15 V and successfully drove with off-the-shelf batteries (18 V). We also investigated the output current flowing through the system to reduce power consumption. Therefore, in addition to improving the energy efficiency of the system, we confirmed that the difference of the generated current depended on the thickness of the dielectric liquid and the concentration of the conductive liquid.
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