Biologically inspired transportation: a distributed intelligent conveyor

Anenome, prototype and results graphic

Manipulation, orientation and handling of components, subparts and finished products are essential elements of any industrial process, which attract substantial portion of resources and infrastructure. These tasks are primarily undertaken in the macro scale using conventional conveyor belts, rails, vacuum transportation lines and even robot-based systems. Unfortunately, for micro-assembly tasks such solutions are not applicable due to reasons of precision and tool/manipulator size.

Inspired by nature

With this project we are seeking to investigate novel mechanical and control methodologies to address the issues of distributed manipulation in the micro-scale.

We are drawing our inspiration from nature for the two main components of the system:

  • For the actuators design we are looking into the microorganism’s world of Insuforia, but also in sea world animals like anemones. The driving idea is the use of weak simple units (cilia) in a coordinated way to achieve complex tasks.
  • On the control domain, our main inspiration is excitable media (e.g. BZ liquids, Reaction-Diffusion media, non-Newtonian fluids and Cellular Automata). Parallel processing abilities and versatility to adapt in varying control condition make a perfect match to ciliary motion.

Project objective

The project will result in the unique experimental hardware-software complex, for intelligent autonomous massive-parallel manipulation of lightweight objects.

We will develop methods for object recognition and manipulation of objects by massive-parallel implementations of non- linear media, evolve local rules of adaptive concurrent manipulation of several objects and design and fabricate an array of micro-actuators capable of intelligent manipulation (transporting, positioning, sorting) of several objects.

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Page last updated 12 May 2016

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