Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
    Exploring the New Frontier of Centimeter-Scale Robots

    Centimeter-scale robots have become increasingly popular due to their versatility in navigating tight and cluttered spaces, as well as their low production costs. Drawing inspiration from the art of origami, a team of researchers led by Professor Cynthia Sung from the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Department has developed an innovative approach to designing and fabricating these robots.

    Their creation, known as CurveQuad, is a centimeter-scale quadruped robot that leverages curved-crease origami to accomplish a range of complex movements with just one motor. Unlike conventional straight crease designs, the curved creases in CurveQuad induce bending in the folded sheets, enabling controlled and reversible motions with fewer actuators. This unique construction technique stores energy in the folding and bending, making it an efficient and cost-effective solution.

    “The magic behind CurveQuad lies in its use of curved creases,” explains Sung, who is also a member of Penn’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab. “Its simplicity and affordability make it possible to envision rapid deployment of robotic swarms in the future. These robots could be manufactured for just a few dollars, or even cents, each.”

    This ground-breaking research, titled “CurveQuad: A centimeter-scale origami quadruped that leverages curved creases to self-fold and crawl with one motor,” has been published in the journal Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. The team presented their findings at the 2023 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2023) in Detroit, MI.

    CurveQuad’s unique design not only allows for self-folding and crawling but also reduces the robot’s overall mass and volume by utilizing a single motor. Additionally, the origami-inspired manufacturing process simplifies the assembly of these small-scale robots, as they can be fabricated from flat sheets of material and then folded into their 3D shapes. This approach also enables the integration of electronics, actuators, and computation, all embedded within the structure. Furthermore, this scalable manufacturing process can facilitate large-volume production of these robots.

    Q: What is CurveQuad?
    A: CurveQuad is a centimeter-scale quadruped robot that uses curved-crease origami to achieve complex motions with a single motor.

    Q: What makes CurveQuad unique?
    A: CurveQuad’s curved creases induce bending in the folded sheets, enabling controlled and reversible movements with fewer actuators.

    Q: What are the potential applications of CurveQuad?
    A: CurveQuad’s low cost and simplicity open the door for rapid deployment of robotic swarms for exploration or sensing purposes in the future.

    Q: Where can I find more information about CurveQuad?
    A: More information, including fabrication files and videos, can be found at