The NWO Domain Board Science has awarded 26 applications in the Open Competition Domain Science - XS. The themes vary from harnessing tidal energy, studying the human brain to developing selfburrowing robots. Two grants are for UT research: 'Bio-inspired burrowing robot for soil penetration in limited-access sites' (Faculty ET) and 'Solar-Powered autonomous microrobot with a self-oscillating “heart” (Faculty TNW).
Bio-inspired burrowing robot for soil penetration in limited-access sites
Dr. ir. F.A.R. (Floriana Anna Rita) Anselmucci (Faculty of Engineering Technology)
Global warming is changing the landscape around us and threatening our safety. Groundwater level fluctuations affect the soil integrity, leading to severe subsidence in the Netherlands, foundation instability and structural damages. Current underground remediation techniques are expensive and ineffective. An innovative selfburrowing robot is proposed to investigate soil and monitor foundations. Bio-inspired by the earthworm movement, the robot burrows in soil with minimum disturbance. Instrumentation allows for continuous foundation examination, soil characterization and local grouting injection. At the same time, the acquired data can be back-engineered as feedback to guide the robot advancement.
Solar-powered autonomous microrobot with a self-oscillating “heart”
Dr. J.-Y.(Jian-Yao) Zheng (Faculty of Science and Technology)
Microrobotics extends the reach of human-controlled machines to the sub-millimeter scales. Despite the recent success of robotics, the realization of solar-powered autonomous robots at the microscale remains a significant challenge due to the lack of a miniaturized onboard power supply. Recently, we have developed an unprecedented design of a self-oscillating “heart” (SOH) that can generate periodic electricity from non-periodic sunlight without excess electronics. In this project, I will explore the mechanism and remote frequency synchronization behavior of this SOH, and use it to fabricate microrobots that are capable of autonomous locomotion.
Source: NWO website