In this paper, we speculate on a possible application of Liquid Crystal Elastomers to the field of soft robotics. In particular, we study a concept for limbless locomotion that is amenable to miniaturisation. For this purpose, we formulate and solve the evolution equations for a strip of nematic elastomer, subject to directional frictional interactions with a flat solid substrate, and cyclically actuated by a spatially uniform, time-periodic stimulus (e.g., temperature change). The presence of frictional forces that are sensitive to the direction of sliding transforms reciprocal, ‘breathing-like’ deformations into directed forward motion. We derive formulas quantifying this motion in the case of distributed friction, by solving a differential inclusion for the displacement field. The simpler case of concentrated frictional interactions at the two ends of the strip is also solved, in order to provide a benchmark to compare the continuously distributed case with a finite-dimensional benchmark. We also provide explicit formulas for the axial force along the crawler body.

%B Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids %V 84 %P 254 - 272 %G eng %U http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022509615300430 %R https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmps.2015.07.017 %0 Journal Article %J Ann. Inst. H. Poincare Anal. Non Lineaire %D 2012 %T Linear elasticity obtained from finite elasticity by Gamma-convergence under weak coerciveness conditions %A Virginia Agostiniani %A Gianni Dal Maso %A Antonio DeSimone %K Nonlinear elasticity %XThe energy functional of linear elasticity is obtained as G-limit of suitable rescalings of the energies of finite elasticity...

%B Ann. Inst. H. Poincare Anal. Non Lineaire %I Gauthier-Villars;Elsevier %V 29 %P 715-735 %G en %U http://hdl.handle.net/1963/4267 %1 3996 %2 Mathematics %3 Functional Analysis and Applications %4 -1 %$ Submitted by Maria Pia Calandra (calapia@sissa.it) on 2011-09-26T15:11:45Z\\r\\nNo. of bitstreams: 1\\r\\nAgostiniani_DalMaso_30_M.pdf: 407057 bytes, checksum: 2009d1218f7735191a1c768a73b400a3 (MD5) %R 10.1016/j.anihpc.2012.04.001