As a kind of dielectric elastomer actuators, dielectric elastomer minimum energy structure (DEMES) can realize large angular deformations by small voltage-induced strains, which make them an attractive candidate for use as biomimetic robotics. Considering the rotary joint is a basic and common component of many biomimetic robots, we have been fabricated rotary joint by DEMES and developed its performances in the past two years. In this paper, we have discussed the static analysis, dynamics analysis and some characteristics of the DEMES rotary joint. Based on theoretical analysis, some different applications of the DEMES rotary joint were presented, such as a flapping wing, a biomimetic fish and a two-legged walker. All of the robots are fabricated by DEMES rotary joint and can realize some basic biomimetic motions. Comparing with traditional rigid robot, the robot based on DEMES is soft and light, so it has advantage on the collision-resistant.
Dielectric elastomer actuator showed significant advantages at high energy density, large deformation with comparing to other artificial muscle. The robot actuated by dielectric elastomer will be more lightweight and have lower cost, which shows great potential in field of future planetary exploration based on a group of micro-robot. In this context, a quite simple structure for creeping was designed to make the robot more lightweight. The actuation unit of the robot is made of an ellipse frame which can expand and contract with membrane under electric field. After joining four actuation units, the robot can move forward in a cooperative manner. Fabrication and some preliminary experiments of the robot were presented and the proposed motion principle was demonstrated.