This article describes the development of piezoelectric micro-actuators for use in micro-robotic systems, and surveys controllers and power electronics for such actuators to meet power limitations of terrestrial micro-robots with high mobility. A thin-film lead-zirconate-titanate lateral actuator design with one micron stroke and several millinewtons of actuation force is described, and sample experimental results provided. A method for integrating these actuators with flexible silicon micro-structures, and implications for micro-robotic pay-load capacity are presented. On-off control is proposed as a method to minimize energy usage by piezoelectric actuators and driving circuitry when moving a micro-robotic appendage based on these designs. Low efficiency of voltage converters and large power consumption of sensing circuitry are identified as barriers to further enhancing servo capabilities of bio-inspired terrestrial micro-robots.

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