Date of Award

Winter 12-2017

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering


Metin Sitti


The combination or integration of locomotion modes, is analyzed through the design, development, and verification of a miniature integrated jumping and gliding robot, the MultiMo-Bat, which is inspired by the locomotion strategies of vampire bats, locusts, and pelicans. This robot has a mass of between 100 and 162 grams and exhibits high jumping and gliding performance, reaching heights of over 4.5 meters, to overcome obstacles in the environment. Integration results in a smaller, lighter robot with high cooperation between the modes. This thesis presents a previously unstudied robot design concept and highlights the understudied evolutionary concept within organism mobility of integration of locomotion modes. High performance locomotion modes also require high energy density actuators. To this end, a design methodology is developed for tailoring magnetic springs to the characteristics of shape memory alloy-actuated mechanisms, which allow the MultiMo-Bat to reach jumping heights of 3.5 m with active wing deployment and full controller. Through a combinations of permanent magnets, a magnetic spring can be customized to desired characteristics; theoretically any welldefined function of force vs. displacement can be created. The methodology is not limited to SMA but can be adapted to any smart actuator, joint, or situation which requires a fixed complex force-displacement relationship with extension other interactions and magnetic field design. Robotic locomotion is also much more idealized than that of their biological counter parts. This thesis serves to highlight just how non-ideal, yet robust, biological locomotion can inspire concepts for enhancing the robustness of robot locomotion. We studied the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), which is adapted for jumping at the extreme limits of its surface friction, as evident by its morphological adaptations for not only jumping, but slipping. Analysis of both foot morphology and jumping behavior are used to understand how the feet interact with different surfaces, including hydrophobic glass, hydrophilic glass, wood, sandstone, and mesh. The results demonstrate a complex interplay of embodied mechanical intelligence, allowing the foot to interact and adapt passively to different surfaces without burdening the organism with additional tasks. The key morphological and dynamical features are extracted to create a concept for developing multi-Surface Locust Inspired Passively-adaptable (SLIP) feet. A simple interpretation of the concepts are then used to construct a SLIP foot for the MultiMo-Bat. These feet allow the MultiMo-Bat to reach jumping heights of well over 4 m, greater than any other electrically powered robot, and this is achieved on a 45 degree angled surface while slipping. The SLIP foot concept can be directly applied to a wide range of robot size scales, thus enhancing their dynamic terrestrial locomotion on variable surfaces.

Available for download on Friday, December 07, 2018