Dissertation Talk: Ionocraft: Flying Microrobots With No Moving Parts

Seminar | December 4 | 10-11 a.m. | 490H Cory Hall

 Daniel Drew, UC Berkeley

 Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS)

Autonomous mobile microrobots, not static sensor nodes, are the necessary platform for the ubiquitous sensor (and actuator) systems that will inform the connected world of tomorrow. Swarms of microrobots will deploy and reconfigure as needed to drive industrial and commercial solutions ranging from precision agriculture to infrastructure monitoring and maintenance. Future end-users will interact with the digital world in their daily lives using microrobot swarm interfaces as tangible, versatile, and expressive mediators of data. This talk will focus on my work developing novel electrohydrodynamic (EHD) actuators using MEMS microfabrication techniques. I will discuss investigations into miniaturization and scaling of EHD thrusters, as well as robotic platforms enabled by these thrusters that have interesting capabilities, including: silent flight, mechanical simplicity by virtue of having no moving parts, and extremely high thrust-to-weight ratios. I will end by discussing some of my future research goals, both for the ionocraft platform and for autonomous microrobots in general.