Toward Energetically Autonomous Foraging Soft Robots

Hemma Philamore, Ioannis Ieropoulos, Andrew Stinchcombe, Jonathan Rossiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
592 Downloads (Pure)


A significant goal of robotics is to develop autonomous machines, capable of independent and collective operation free from human assistance. To operate with complete autonomy robots must be capable of independent movement and total energy self-sufficiency. We present the design of a soft robotic mouth and artificial stomach for aquatic robots that will allow them to feed on biomatter in their surrounding environment. The robot is powered by electrical energy generated through bacterial respiration within a microbial fuel cell (MFC) stomach, and harvested using state-of-the-art voltage step-up electronics. Through innovative exploitation of compliant, biomimetic actuation, the soft robotic feeding mechanism enables the connection of multiple MFC stomachs in series configuration in an aquatic environment, previously a significant challenge. We investigate how a similar soft robotic feeding mechanism could be driven by electroactive polymer artificial muscles from the same bioenergy supply. This work demonstrates the potential for energetically autonomous soft robotic artificial organisms and sets the stage for radically different future robots.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-197
Number of pages12
JournalSoft Robotics
Issue number4
Early online date20 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Structured keywords

  • Tactile Action Perception


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