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Progress In Liquid Metal-driven Robot Research

Pulished on Nov. 07, 2018

Zhang Shiwu, associate professor of the Department of Precision Machinery and Precision Instruments, University of Science and Technology of China, Li Weihua, research team of the University of Wollongong, Australia, and Li Xiangpeng, associate professor of the Center for Robotics and Microsystems of Suzhou University, jointly designed a new research group based on gallium-based room temperature liquid metal. The robotic drive is the first to realize a functional wheeled mobile robot driven by liquid metal. Recently, the result was published in the journal Advanced Materials by A Wheeled Robot Driven by a Liquid‐Metal Droplet.

Liquid metal gallium-based room temperature liquid metal has a large surface tension and exhibits high mobility at very low electric field power consumption. The joint research team skillfully combines high-efficiency liquid metal drive and variable center of gravity mechanism to develop a new liquid metal robot with simple structure and good drive performance. The researchers designed a very light semi-closed wheel structure with a super-hydrophobic surface to confine the liquid metal droplets inside the narrow wheel body; applying an external electric field to the liquid metal movement in the wheel through a cleverly designed follow-up micro-electrode holder In turn, the center of gravity of the wheeled robot is continuously changed, and the wheeled robot is driven to roll. At the same time, the researchers made dynamic modeling and analysis of the proposed new liquid metal robot, and explored the effects of electrolyte concentration, applied voltage, liquid metal volume, wheel structure and other parameters on the kinematic performance of the robot. The best parameter matching for driving motion. Further, through the integrated battery system, the researchers successfully designed a new liquid metal self-driving wheeled mobile robot. This innovative research is expected to inspire a new type of driving method to make up for the complex structure, large volume and low driving efficiency of traditional robot driving methods (motor, hydraulic and pneumatic), and promote the development of future micro-robots and special robot systems.

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