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A Theoretical Investigation of the Critical Timescales Needed for Digging in Dry Soil Using a Biomimetic Burrowing Robot

[+] Author Affiliations
Monica Isava, Amos G. Winter, V

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. DETC2015-47852, pp. V05AT08A048; 8 pages
  • ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5A: 39th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, August 2–5, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5712-0
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


RoboClam is a bio-inspired robot that digs into underwater soil efficiently by expanding and contracting its valves to fluidize the substrate around it, thus reducing drag. This technology has potential applications in fields such as anchoring, sensor placement, and cable installation. Though there are similar potential applications in dry soil, the lack of water to advect the soil particles prevents fluidization from occurring. However, theoretically, if the RoboClam contracts quickly enough, it will achieve a zero-stress state that will allow it to dig into dry soil with very little drag, independent of depth. This paper presents a theoretical model of the two modes of soil collapse to determine how quickly a device would need to contract to achieve this zero-stress state. It was found that a contraction time of 0.02 seconds would suffice for most soils, which is an achievable timescale for a RoboClam-like device.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME
Topics: Robots , Biomimetics , Soil



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