Pneumatic circuits without electronic components enable automatic control of the walking gait of a soft legged robot
Pneumatically actuated soft robots have recently shown promise for their ability to adapt to their environment. Previously, these robots have been controlled with electromechanical components such as valves and pumps that are typically bulky and expensive. In this work, we developed a soft legged walking robot that is controlled and powered by pressurized air. We designed soft valves and pneumatic circuits to control the walking direction of the robot. We used a soft ring oscillator circuit to generate the rhythmic oscillatory movement similar to central pattern generator circuits observed in nature. The robot’s walking pattern was inspired by biological quadrupeds like the African side neck turtle. We demonstrated a control circuit that allowed the robot to select between gaits for omnidirectional locomotion. We also equipped the robot with simple sensors to change its gait in response to interactions with the environment. This work represents a step towards fully autonomous, electronics-free walking robots. Applications include low-cost robotics for entertainment, such as toys, and robots that can operate in environments where electronics cannot function, such as MRI machines or mine shafts.
Lab Webpage: https://sites.google.com/eng.ucsd.edu/bioinspired/
Personal Website: https://www.dylandrotman.com/