Partnering rescue personnel with robots to evaluate high-risk scenarios and environments can help increase the likelihood of successful search and recovery efforts while minimizing the threat to human teams. Small robotics systems could provide significant aide in these scenarios, but shrinking down these platforms requires significant advancement of the underlying technology.
The Short-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms (SHRIMP) program is developing next-generation millimeter- to centimeter-scale robotics technology for use in disaster relief scenarios. SHRIMP comprises three technical focus areas: basic research of actuator materials and mechanisms, basic research of power converter and battery technologies, and development of microrobotic platform technology. Each of these technical areas address significant challenges associated with scaling traditional robotics technologies to mm- to cm-scale dimensions.
The actuator materials and mechanisms focus area comprises basic research into piezoelectric, dielectric elastomer, phase change, and other material-based actuators that scale well to small dimensions. These material advances will be configured into mechanisms for both impulse and long duration actuation capabilities. The power converter and battery technology focus area comprises basic research into small-scale boost converters and high energy and power density battery technologies. Finally, the microrobotic platform technology focus area investigates system-level challenges associated with a variety of microrobotic platform types, such as crawling, flying, and jumping robots. The goal of this focus area is to integrate the technologies from the other SHRIMP focus areas with modern commercial electronics to form mechanical demonstration platforms.
The final phase of the SHRIMP program will evaluate technologies developed across the three technical focus areas in a series of Olympic-inspired events. The actuator mechanism and power technologies will be combined and evaluated in standing high jump, standing long jump, shot put, weightlifting, and tug-of-war events. The SHRIMP platforms will be evaluated in vertical ascent, rock piling, steeplechase, and biathlon events. These events will be mapped to capabilities required of emergency and disaster relief robots.
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