A miniature modular origami passive shape-morphing robot

Official paper link: https://doi.org/10.1002/aisy.202300181

CU press release: tiny-shape-shifting-robot-can-squish-itself-tight-spaces

For journalist and media personnel: We are excited to work with you, please write to Kaushik Jayaram kaushik.jayaram@colorado.edu to discuss your interest.

For high quality media footage of the robot please use the files uploaded here: Design of CLARI media files  All photos and videos were taken by Heiko Kabutz.

Miniature robots provide unprecedented access to confined environments and show promising potential for novel applications such as search-and-rescue and high-value asset inspection. The capability of body deformation further enhances the reachability of these small robots in complex cluttered terrains similar to those of insects and soft arthropods. Motivated by this concept, we present CLARI, an insect-scale 2.59g quadrupedal robot capable of body deformation with tethered electrical connections for power and control and manufactured using laminate fabrication and assembled using origami pop-up techniques. In order to enable locomotion in multiple shape configurations, we designed a novel body architecture comprising of modular, actuated leg mechanisms. Overall, CLARI has eight independently actuated degrees of freedom (two per modular leg unit) driven by custom piezoelectric actuators, making it mechanically dextrous. We characterize open-loop robot locomotion at multiple stride frequencies (1-10 Hz) using multiple gaits (trot, walk, etc.) in three different fixed body shapes (long, symmetric, wide) and illustrate the robot’s capabilities. Finally, we demonstrate preliminary results of CLARI locomoting with a compliant body in open terrain and through a laterally constrained gap, a novel capability for legged robots. Our results represent the first step towards achieving effective cluttered terrain navigation with adaptable compliant robots in real-world environments.