Magnetomotility of untethered helical soft robots†
Magnetically active helical soft robots were synthesized to achieve tether-less manipulation of the magnetomotility in order to avoid the on-board weight penalty and the distance restrictions originating from connection lines. Magnetic iron particles were dispersed in elastomeric polymer matrices and pre-cured in a two-dimensional film geometry, followed by post-curing in a three-dimensional (3D) helical geometry. To manipulate movements of the 3D helical soft robots, an external magnetic field was applied by placing a neodymium permanent magnet on a motorized linear translation stage. The 3D helical geometry of the soft robots enabled efficient maneuvering with local deformations and a low magnetic threshold for actuation by the introduction of the rolling resistance unlike the absence of the local deformations observed for rigid 3D coils. As rolling is induced by the action and reaction with the substrate, the helix angle causes divergence of the soft robots from linear translational motility. In order to regulate the directionality of rolling and to minimize temporal and spatial deviation of the soft robots, the magnitude of the magnetic flux density and the velocity of the permanent magnet on the linear stage were investigated.