Rapidly-moving insect muscle-powered microrobot and its chemical acceleration

Biomed Microdevices. 2012 Dec;14(6):979-86. doi: 10.1007/s10544-012-9700-5.


Insect dorsal vessel (DV) tissue seems well suited for microactuators due to its environmental robustness and low maintenance. We describe an insect muscle-powered autonomous microrobot (iPAM) and its acceleration with a neuroactive chemical, crustacean cardioactive peptide (CCAP). The iPAM, consisting of a DV tissue and a frame, was designed on the basis of a finite element method simulation and fabricated. The iPAM moved autonomously by spontaneous contraction of the DV tissue at a significantly improved velocity compared to our previous model. The best-case iPAM moved faster than other reported microrobots powered by mammalian cardiomycytes. It moved forward with a small declination of 0.54 ° during one contraction since the DV tissue not only shortened but also twisted. The iPAM frame should be designed by taking into account the innate contractile characteristic of DV tissue. The acceleration effect of CCAP on contracting frequency was evaluated using a micropillar array and was a maximum at 10(-6)M. The effect peaked 1 min after addition and remained for 2 min. CCAP addition at 10(-6)M accelerated the iPAM temporally and the velocity increased 8.1-fold. We view the DV tissue as one of the most promising materials for chemically regulatable microactuators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Animals
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes / metabolism
  • Equipment Design
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Insecta / anatomy & histology*
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Robotics / instrumentation*
  • Robotics / methods


  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes
  • Neuropeptides
  • crustacean cardioactive peptide
  • baysilon