Research ArticleBIOMIMETICS

Kirigami skins make a simple soft actuator crawl

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Science Robotics  21 Feb 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 15, eaar7555
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aar7555


Bioinspired soft machines made of highly deformable materials are enabling a variety of innovative applications, yet their locomotion typically requires several actuators that are independently activated. We harnessed kirigami principles to significantly enhance the crawling capability of a soft actuator. We designed highly stretchable kirigami surfaces in which mechanical instabilities induce a transformation from flat sheets to 3D-textured surfaces akin to the scaled skin of snakes. First, we showed that this transformation was accompanied by a dramatic change in the frictional properties of the surfaces. Then, we demonstrated that, when wrapped around an extending soft actuator, the buckling-induced directional frictional properties of these surfaces enabled the system to efficiently crawl.

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