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Low Power Microrobotics Utilizing Biologically Inspired Energy Generation
 
Gregory Scott
Naval Research Laboratory


Low-power Microbot › Link to larger photo

The Naval Research Lab is developing a 1 kilogram microrover that utilizes a novel power system concept – bacteria! Certain microbes can be harvested to effectively change chemical sugars into electricity through a fuel cell, which can provide a higher power density than a traditional lithium-ion battery. This process will be used to slowly build up a storage of electricity, which will provide a burst of energy to the vehicle’s novel hopping or rolling mobility system. In this Phase I study, the study team will investigate the usability of a microbial fuel cell to power a small microrover, design low-power electronics for effective power management of this system, and develop an efficient low-power non-traditional locomotion system to propel the light-weight vehicle forward. Small microrovers with this power system could one day support long-duration research studies on planetary surfaces without the need for large solar panels or complex power systems.