IROS 2015 Paper Abstract


Paper WeFT8.5

Philamore, Hemma (Univeristy of Bristol), Rossiter, Jonathan (University of Bristol), Ieropoulos, Ioannis Andrea (University of the West of England), Stinchcombe, Andrew John (Bristol Robotics Laboratory)

Row-Bot: An Energetically Autonomous Artificial Water Boatman

Scheduled for presentation during the Regular session "Biomimetics" (WeFT8), Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 17:50−18:05, Saal C4

2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Sept 28 - Oct 03, 2015, Congress Center Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

This information is tentative and subject to change. Compiled on January 24, 2022

Keywords Biomimetics, Autonomous Agents, Marine Robotics


We present a design for an energetically autonomous artificial organism, combining two subsystems; a bio-inspired energy source and bio-inspired actuation. The work is the first demonstration of energetically autonomy in a microbial fuel cell (MFC)-powered, swimming robot taking energy from it's surrounding, aqueous environment. In contrast to previous work using stacked MFC power sources, the Row-bot employs a single microbial fuel cell as an artificial stomach and uses commercially available voltage step-up hardware to produce usable voltages. The energy generated exceeds the energy requirement to complete the mechanical actuation needed to refuel. Energy production and actuation are demonstrated separately with the results showing that the combination of these subsystems will produce closed-loop energetic autonomy. The work shows a crucial step in the development of autonomous robots capable of long term self-power. Bio-inspiration for the design of the Row-bot was taken from the water boatman beetle. This proof of concept study opens many avenues for the further development of the subsystems comprising the Row-bot, and the functionality of the robot itself.



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