Flexible Microrobots with Autonomous Motion

FMAM - CP94-1306

Keywords: robotics, autonomous motion, miniaturised robots, biotechnology, microactuators

Start Date: 1 May 95 / Duration: 36 months

[ participants / contact]

Objectivies and Approach

The aim of this project is the study, the design and the realisation of a flexible microrobot for pipes investigation. Two utilisations are envisaged - as a tenacle, if the back extremity of the robot is free, and, as a reptile, if the robot is free -. The initial specification comprises: an articulated microstructure that is composed by up to 20 identical modules; a microgripper for the head module; a vision system integrated by optical fiber; a system of governs (for the control of movements) and space navigation (for the avoidance of collisions). The precision of the head positioning is 0.1mm, the minimal force of the gripper 10cmN, the size of the modules 5 to 15 mm in the three dimensions and the minimal inspectable pipe diameter 25mm.

Progress and Results

The Rumanian team develops the mechanical parts and the actuators. To have a sufficient power/size ratio, piezoelectricity will be used and the Rumanian partners develop their own crystals and a linear step-by-step microactuator that functions by jamming extension.

The Polish team deals with the instrumentation of the robot. In order to perform tests for the non-contact measurement methods, a test station has been built.

The French team handles the command and integration parts. The distributed architecture of the robot requires real time methods, the modules are equipped with microcontrollers and the whole system is connected through a net.

The 2D simulation of the two models has given very positive results.

Information Dissemination Activities and/or Exploitation

Results have been presented at national as well as international conferences. A list of publications may be requested from the coordinator.


Université de Metz
Laboratoire d'Automatique et d'Electronique Industrielle
Ile du Saulcy
F-57045 Metz, F

EU Partners

Université de Metz - LAEI, F

Non-EU Partners

Bucharest Politechnical University, RO
Inst. de Cercetare si Proiletare Pentru Mecanica Fina, RO
S.V.I.A.M., RO
Warsaw University of Technology,
Institute of Design of Precise and Optical Instruments, PL


Prof. Claude Laurent
Tel: +33 87 31 51 25
Fax: +33 87 31 51 33

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FMAM - CP94-1306, May 1997

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html version of synopsis by Nick Cook