Micromachined thin film cantilever actuators having means for individually controlling the deflection of the cantilevers, valve members, and rudders for steering same through blood vessels, or positioning same within a blood vessel, for example. Such cantilever actuators include tactile sensor arrays mounted on a catheter or guide wire tip for navigation and tissues identification, shape-memory alloy film based catheter/guide wire steering mechanisms, and rudder-based steering devices that allow the selective actuation of rudders that use the flowing blood itself to help direct the catheter direction through the blood vessel. While particularly adapted for medical applications, these cantilever actuators can be used for steering through piping and tubing systems.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.