We seek to harness microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technologies to build biomimetic devices for low-power,
high-performance, robust sensors and actuators on micro-autonomous robot platforms. Hair is used abundantly in nature
for a variety of functions including balance and inertial sensing, flow sensing and aerodynamic (air foil) control, tactile
and touch sensing, insulation and temperature control, particle filtering, and gas/chemical sensing. Biological hairs,
which are typically characterized by large surface/volume ratios and mechanical amplification of movement, can be
distributed in large numbers over large areas providing unprecedented sensitivity, redundancy, and stability (robustness).
Local neural transduction allows for space- and power-efficient signal processing. Moreover by varying the hair structure
and transduction mechanism, the basic hair form can be used for a wide diversity of functions. In this paper, by
exploiting a novel wafer-level, bubble-free liquid encapsulation technology, we make arrays of micro-hydraulic cells
capable of electrostatic actuation and hydraulic amplification, which enables high force/high deflection actuation and
extremely sensitive detection (sensing) at low power. By attachment of cilia (hair) to the micro-hydraulic cell, air flow
sensors with excellent sensitivity (< few cm/s) and dynamic range (> 10 m/s) have been built. A second-generation
design has significantly reduced the sensor response time while maintaining sensitivity of about 2 cm/s and dynamic
range of more than 15 m/s. These sensors can be used for dynamic flight control of flying robots or for situational
awareness in surveillance applications. The core biomimetic technologies developed are applicable to a broad range of
sensors and actuators.