Wirelessly-Controlled Untethered Piezoelectric Planar Soft Robot Capable of Bidirectional Crawling and Rotation

Zhiwu Zheng, Hsin Cheng, Prakhar Kumar, Sigurd Wagner, Minjie Chen, Naveen Verma, James C. Sturm

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Electrostatic actuators provide a promising approach to creating soft robotic sheets, due to their flexible form factor, modular integration, and fast response speed. However, their control requires kilo-Volt signals and understanding of complex dynamics resulting from force interactions by on-board and environmental effects. In this work, we demonstrate an untethered planar five-actuator piezoelectric robot powered by batteries and on-board high-voltage circuitry, and controlled through a wireless link. The scalable fabrication approach is based on bonding different functional layers on top of each other (steel foil substrate, actuators, flexible electronics). The robot exhibits a range of controllable motions, including bidirectional crawling (up to 0.6 cm/s), turning, and in-place rotation (at 1 degree/s). High-speed videos and control experiments show that the richness of the motion results from the interaction of an asymmetric mass distribution in the robot and the associated dependence of the dynamics on the driving frequency of the piezoelectrics. The robot's speed can reach 6 cm/s with specific payload distribution.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationProceedings - ICRA 2023
Subtitle of host publicationIEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9798350323658
StatePublished - 2023
Event2023 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2023 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: May 29 2023Jun 2 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation


Conference2023 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence

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