Self-Anchoring Burrowing Device for Sensor Placement with Low Reaction Force

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have developed a self-anchoring, self-deploying soft burrowing robot that uses tip extension to navigate through granular media. The self-anchoring feature eliminates the requirement of externa…

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have developed a self-anchoring, self-deploying soft burrowing robot that uses tip extension to navigate through granular media. The self-anchoring feature eliminates the requirement of external reaction force to burrow, allowing the device to be implemented into small, mobile robots and enabling remote placement of underground sensors with minimal soil disturbance. Inspired by a plant root, which remains stationary relative to its surroundings as its tip grows, the soft burrowing robot consists of a thin-walled tubular body that is initially inverted inside itself and everts when pressurized, passing new material out of the tip. It can also deploy root hairs, branches, swell radially, and retracted by pulling back on the tip to reinvert material. Since there is no relative motion of the body with respect to the granular medium, frictional forces along the sides are eliminated and only the normal forces at the tip oppose the robot’s growth.

Website

https://techtransfer.universityofcalifornia.edu/NCD/32795.html?utm_source=AUTMGTP&utm_medium=webpage&utm_term=ncdid_32795&utm_campaign=TechWebsites

Advantages

  • Tip-extension reduces soil disturbance compared to drilling or hammering
  • Enables remote sensor placement in various granular media and organic soils with little or no reaction force
  • Pneumatic tip extension enables robots to burrow faster than alternative mechanisms
  • Ability to create hollow conduits for applications such as wire or irrigation line installation

Potential Applications

  • Agriculture and Botany
  • Civil and Geotechnical Engineering
  • Space Exploration

Contact Information

Name: Robert Takara

Email: Takara@tia.ucsb.edu

Phone: 805-893-5138