Our proposed Idea: B-Robot (BROBOT)

Science-fiction movies have always been an inspiration for scientists and researchers. The Star Wars franchise deserves a special mention here, having inspired some of the products that we see today like smartphones, artificial skin and prosthetics. Our team got its motivation from one of the droids in the latest movie from the franchise, BB-8. What particularly excited us was the simple balancing and motion exhibited by BB-8, especially in its rapid movements and when making turns. Our aim is to create a soft robot which can mimic the rolling motion. The general concept for our project is to use DEAs to create a robot with a rolling motion similar to that of BB-8. Since our robot is inspired by BB-8, we chose to name it B-Robot.

BB-8 droid from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” 

Highlights of our proposed idea

The rolling mechanism renders irrelevant the need for providing and maintaining balance of the structure. Unlike animal-like robots or humanoids that rely on the motion of limbs involving complex monitoring and controlled displacement of the robot’s weight and how it is distributed, the rolling motion combined with the softness of the DEAs overcomes this barrier.

Furthermore, a rolling sphere is in a state of constant neutral equilibrium which eliminates the chance of tripping down, as seen in hard robots.

Another advantage of this proposed robot is the ability to maneuver in all directions with only 2 degrees of freedom.

DEAs are soft and flexible, which aligns well with the theme of this competition and have a relatively simple configuration. Actuation strains can be altered by modulating the input voltage.