Compliant Surface Robotics

Period of Performance: 01/08/2001 - 09/04/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Unmanned Systems Technology Laboratory
University of Idaho Research P
Coeur d' Alene, ID 83814
Principal Investigator


This proposal seeks to conduct exploratory research to develop hybrid locomotion techniques that enable a wide range of traction capabilities at small scale to achieve the Compliant Surface Robotics (CSR) goals. The concepts we intend to examine extend current capabilities of wheeled vehicles into "morphable" articulated systems, with overdetermined legs, feet or other motive actuation and that can traverse otherwise impassable surfaces. The uniqueness of our proposal is our:- breadth of kinematic exploration of variable volume techniques- utilization of a MEMS-based, "from the ground up" custom design methodology(MEMS - Micro Electro Mechanical Systems)- utilization of electro active polymer technologies in several of our concepts to develop systems that transform between configurations to comply with the current surface terrain.Our goal is to build a system that is back packable (~5 kg) and supports two phases of operation by transforming from one kinematic configuration to the other, each tuned for the appropriate operational phase, which are:INITIAL PHASE (0 - 10+ miles range). Transit over hard pack ground to light gravel or dirt, desire higher speed transit (20+ kph), stealth of track left (if any) is not critical.FINAL PHASE (0 to several miles). Mission Configuration ("Loiter, Survey, Recon &/or Deliver Payload" , over mushy surfaces from sand, to light snow, at lower speed (0 to 10 kph, and the need to leave "no track" or a "bio-track" that does not appear man made, but appears animal like for the indigenous locale.small robots that are robust to ground surface terrain, including otherwise impassable terrain such as soft snow, deep mud, swamp land, will provide considerable enhancement to Search and Rescue efforts for many applications. Moreover, the development of MEMS integrated designs to support the goals herein will have a broad range of applicability in many aspects of commerce and industry.