Conventional robotic manipulators have been widely studied and proven for their efficiency in macro environment. However, it is unlikely to miniaturize them to mimic a bacterium flagellum type actuator/manipulator. Electroactive polymer (EAP) actuators, also known as artificial muscles, can operate both in wet and dry environments and are very suitable for miniaturising. With this in mind, this paper reports on the kinematics of an artificial flagellum of a bacterium engineered from an EAP actuator. A kinematic model based on backbone curve approach which integrates differential geometry and Denavit-Hartenberg formulation is developed. Simulation results of the artificial flagellum demonstrate the feasibility of such modelling approach for highly flexible EAP actuators. Also, preliminary experiments were conducted. This study recommends that electroactive polymer actuators can be used to build bacteria flagellum type actuators to be used in micro robots for medical purposes such as diagnosis and drug delivery.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/weihua_li/21/