NSTI Nanotech 2009

MEMS & Wireless: from devices to microrobotic swarms

D. Popa
University of Texas at Arlington, US

Keywords: MEMS, wireless sensors, microrobotic swarms


Exciting new advances in micromanufacturing enable the integration of large numbers of MEMS sensors and actuators into autonomous microrobots. Deploying wireless swarms of microrobots that can be efficiently manufactured is critical to using them in many challenging applications such as military battlespace surveillance, environmental or medical health monitoring, or nano-scale manufacturing.

In this presentation, we discuss on-going efforts at UT Arlington’s Automation & Robotics Research Institute (ARRI) aimed at creating and deploying sub-cm size autonomous microrobotic swarms. We use several case studies to discuss both microrobot manufacturing chalenges (e.g. fabrication, assembly, packaging), as well as swarm deployment challenges (e.g. communication, energy and control). Proposed paradigms to address these challenges include modular designs, high yield automated multiscale assembly, constrained microsystem optimization, and scalable information, communication & mission aware deployment algorithms for wireless microrobot swarms. Examples of on-going work include millimeter size untethered microcrawlers, microrobotic manipulator arms, and microflap arrays for steering aerial vehicles.

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