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Soft Robotics

Arnau Garriga-Casanovas, Ian Collison, Ferdinando Rodriguez Y Baena
Soft robotic manipulators with fluidic actuation are devices with easily deformable structures that comprise a set of chambers that can be pressurized to achieve structural deflection. These devices have experienced a rapid development in recent years, which is not least due to the advantages they offer in terms of robustness, affordability, and compliance. Nowadays, however, soft robotic manipulators are designed mostly by intuition, which complicates design improvement and hampers the advancement of the field...
August 30, 2018: Soft Robotics
Saekwang Nam, Sungryul Yun, Jae Woong Yoon, Suntak Park, Seung Koo Park, Seongcheol Mun, Bongje Park, Ki-Uk Kyung
Developing tunable lenses, an expansion-based mechanism for dynamic focus adjustment can provide a larger focal length tuning range than a contraction-based mechanism. Here, we develop an expansion-tunable soft lens module using a disk-type dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) that creates axially symmetric pulling forces on a soft lens. Adopted from a biological accommodation mechanism in human eyes, a soft lens at the annular center of a disk-type DEA pair is efficiently stretched to change the focal length in a highly reliable manner...
August 29, 2018: Soft Robotics
Oisín Byrne, Fergal Coulter, Mark Glynn, James F X Jones, Aisling Ní Annaidh, Eoin D O'Cearbhaill, Dónal P Holland
This article presents a direct additive manufacturing method for composite material soft pneumatic actuators that are capable of performing a range of programmable motions. Commonly, molding is the method used to manufacture soft fluidic actuators. This is material, labor, and time intensive and lacks the design freedom to produce custom actuators efficiently. This article proposes an alternative semiautomated method of designing and manufacturing composite soft actuators. An affordable, open-source, desktop three-dimensional (3D) printer was modified into a four-axis, combined, fused deposition modeling, and paste extrusion printer...
August 27, 2018: Soft Robotics
Hassanin Al-Fahaam, Samia Nefti-Meziani, Theo Theodoridis, Steve Davis
This article presents the design of a novel extensor-contractor pneumatic artificial muscle (ECPAM). This new actuator has numerous advantages over traditional pneumatic artificial muscles. These include the abilities to both contract and extend relative to a nominal initial length, to generate both contraction and extension forces, and to vary stiffness at any actuator length. A kinematic analysis of the ECPAM is presented in this article. A new output force mathematical model has been developed for the ECPAM based on its kinematic analysis and the theory of energy conservation...
July 24, 2018: Soft Robotics
Charbel Tawk, Marc In Het Panhuis, Geoffrey M Spinks, Gursel Alici
Continued technological progress in robotic systems has led to more applications where robots and humans operate in close proximity and even physical contact in some cases. Soft robots, which are made of highly compliant and deformable materials, provide inherent safety features unlike conventional robots that are made of stiff and rigid components. Soft robotics is a rapidly developing field exploiting biomimetic design principles, novel sensor and actuation concepts, and advanced manufacturing techniques...
July 24, 2018: Soft Robotics
Naveen Kumar Uppalapati, Girish Krishnan
There are a number of instances in nature where long and slender objects are grasped by a continuum arm spirally twirling around the object, thereby increasing the area of contact and stability between the gripper and the object. This paper investigates the design and modeling of spiral grippers using pneumatic fiber-reinforced actuators. The paper proposes two reduced order models, a pure helical model, and a spatial Cosserat rod model to capture the deformed behavior of the gripper using the mechanics of fiber-reinforced actuators in the presence of self-weight...
July 24, 2018: Soft Robotics
Hunpyo Ju, Jinmo Jeong, Pyo Kwak, Minjeong Kwon, Jongho Lee
Mechanical flexibility introduced in functional electronic devices has allowed electronics to avoid mechanical breakage, conform to nonplanar surfaces, or attach to deformable surfaces, leading to greatly expanded applications, and some research efforts have already led to commercialization. However, most of these devices are passively bendable by external driving forces. Actively bendable flexible thin film devices can be applied to new fields with new functionalities. Here, we report robotic flexible electronics with actively self-bendable flexible films that can serve as a platform for flexible electronics and other applications with the capability of reversible bending and unbending by electrical control...
July 23, 2018: Soft Robotics
Yu Feng Goh, Samin Akbari, Tran Vy Khanh Vo, Soo Jin Adrian Koh
Conventional robots are typically actuated by hard actuators, while biological entities consist mostly of soft muscles. Being soft imparts a functionality of compliance, thereby greatly enhancing the range of actuation and the degrees of freedom. Here, we demonstrate a soft electromechanically-active polymer capable of an electrically-induced linear strain beyond 500% that is continuously tunable by voltage. Previous experiments on the same material have demonstrated that by harnessing and bypassing electromechanical instability, soft electroactive polymers may bi-stably switch between an actuated state and an uncharged state of about 323% linear strain...
July 23, 2018: Soft Robotics
Leonardo Cappello, Kevin C Galloway, Siddharth Sanan, Diana A Wagner, Rachael Granberry, Sven Engelhardt, Florian L Haufe, Jeffrey D Peisner, Conor J Walsh
Knit, woven, and nonwoven fabrics offer a diverse range of stretch and strain limiting mechanical properties that can be leveraged to produce tailored, whole-body deformation mechanics of soft robotic systems. This work presents new insights and methods for combining heterogeneous fabric material layers to create soft fabric-based actuators. This work demonstrates that a range of multi-degree-of-freedom motions can be generated by varying fabrics and their layered arrangements when a thin airtight bladder is inserted between them and inflated...
July 19, 2018: Soft Robotics
Hongying Zhang, A Senthil Kumar, Jerry Ying Hsi Fuh, Michael Yu Wang
In the past decade, a rich repertoire of soft robots, designed from biomimetic and intuitive approaches, has been developed to overcome challenges faced by their rigid-bodied counterparts. However, these design approaches are greatly limited by the designers' experience and inspiration. In this article, the structural design problem is mathematically modeled under the framework of topology optimization, and solved by a new implementation tool that combines Abaqus/CAE and Matlab coding. Herein, a pneumatic soft gripper with two identical fingers was developed as a practical application...
July 9, 2018: Soft Robotics
Jihong Yan, Xinbin Zhang, Binbin Xu, Jie Zhao
Soft robot has become a hot topic recently due to its distinct advantages over traditional rigid robots such as high deformability and good impact resistance. However, the coupled deflections of flexile materials bring challenges to soft robotic research in many aspects such as kinematic modeling, dynamic analysis, and control. Besides, unwanted deformations might enlarge external dimensions of soft robots, causing a reduction in the efficiency and bringing about unexpected or harmful contacts with surrounding environments that will significantly affect the robots' performance...
July 5, 2018: Soft Robotics
Suin Kim, Jinhyeok Oh, Dahee Jeong, Wookeun Park, Joonbum Bae
Given the need for stretchable sensors, many studies have been conducted on eutectic gallium-indium, which has superior properties as a conductive ink. However, it has remained a challenge to manufacture sensors in a consistent and reproducible manner because conventional mold-based fabrication still depends highly on manual techniques. To overcome this limitation, the direct ink writing was used in this study, focusing on improving the stability of writing by exploring issues related to failure and ensuring the consistency of the microchannel by selecting appropriate process variables, including the syringe material...
July 5, 2018: Soft Robotics
Ahmed A Shabana
Control and stability of flexible and soft robotic systems (FSRS), which have complex geometry and experience desirable and undesirable deformations, are of major concern, particularly when lightweight soft materials are used. Nonetheless, there is no unified continuum-based geometry/analysis approach that can be used for the efficient FSRS virtual prototyping and design. The goal of this article is to propose a new FSRS geometric modeling and analysis methodology by addressing fundamental virtual prototyping challenges that include: (1) integration of the robot geometry and analysis; (2) implementation of general and unconventional material models and actuation forces; (3) use of new concepts for modeling FSRS joints; and (4) development of efficient and robust algorithms for the FSRS virtual prototyping...
June 29, 2018: Soft Robotics
Tjaša Kermavnar, Valerie Power, Adam de Eyto, Leonard O'Sullivan
In this article, we report on a systematic review of the literature on pressure-pain thresholds induced and assessed by computerized cuff pressure algometry (CPA). The motivation for this review is to provide design guidance on pressure levels for wearable soft exoskeletons and similar wearable robotics devices. In our review, we focus on CPA studies of patients who are candidates for wearable soft exoskeletons, as pain-related physiological mechanisms reportedly differ significantly between healthy subjects and patients with chronic pain...
June 29, 2018: Soft Robotics
Yichao Tang, Qiuting Zhang, Gaojian Lin, Jie Yin
Climbing soft robots are of tremendous interest in both science and engineering due to their potential applications in intelligent surveillance, inspection, maintenance, and detection under environments away from the ground. The challenge lies in the design of a fast, robust, switchable adhesion actuator to easily attach and detach the vertical surfaces. Here, we propose a new design of pneumatic-actuated bioinspired soft adhesion actuator working both on ground and under water. It is composed of extremely soft bilayer structures with an embedded spiral pneumatic channel resting on top of a base layer with a cavity...
June 29, 2018: Soft Robotics
Francesco Corucci, Nick Cheney, Francesco Giorgio-Serchi, Josh Bongard, Cecilia Laschi
Designing soft robots poses considerable challenges; automated design approaches may be particularly appealing in this field, as they promise to optimize complex multimaterial machines with very little or no human intervention. Evolutionary soft robotics is concerned with the application of optimization algorithms inspired by natural evolution to let soft robots (both their morphologies and controllers) spontaneously evolve within physically realistic simulated environments, figuring out how to satisfy a set of objectives defined by human designers...
August 2018: Soft Robotics
Jun Shintake, Vito Cacucciolo, Herbert Shea, Dario Floreano
This article presents the design, fabrication, and characterization of a soft biomimetic robotic fish based on dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) that swims by body and/or caudal fin (BCF) propulsion. BCF is a promising locomotion mechanism that potentially offers swimming at higher speeds and acceleration rates, and efficient locomotion. The robot consists of laminated silicone layers wherein two DEAs are used in an antagonistic configuration, generating undulating fish-like motion. The design of the robot is guided by a mathematical model based on the Euler-Bernoulli beam theory and takes account of the nonuniform geometry of the robot and of the hydrodynamic effect of water...
August 2018: Soft Robotics
Amir Ali Amiri Moghadam, Seyedhamidreza Alaie, Suborna Deb Nath, Mahdie Aghasizade Shaarbaf, James K Min, Simon Dunham, Bobak Mosadegh
Pneumatically actuated soft robots address many challenges with interfacing with delicate objects, but these actuators/robots are still bulky and require many hours to fabricate, limiting their widespread use. This article reports a novel design and manufacturing method for ultrathin soft robots and actuators (∼70 μm) using a laser-cutting machine that cuts/welds sheets of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) from a 2D CAD drawing. Using this method, five different soft actuators (e.g., bending, rotating, contracting) are designed, fabricated, and characterized with both planar and nonplanar motions...
August 2018: Soft Robotics
Nicola Giuliani, Luca Heltai, Antonio DeSimone
Interest in the design of bioinspired robotic microswimmers is growing rapidly, motivated by the spectacular capabilities of their unicellular biological templates. Predicting the swimming speed and efficiency of such devices in a reliable way is essential for their rational design, and to optimize their performance. The hydrodynamic simulations needed for this purpose are demanding and simplified models that neglect nonlocal hydrodynamic interactions (e.g., resistive force theory for slender, filament-like objects that are the typical propulsive apparatus for unicellular swimmers) are commonly used...
August 2018: Soft Robotics
Inderjeet Singh, Yacine Amara, Achille Melingui, Pushparaj Mani Pathak, Rochdi Merzouki
Research on continuum manipulators is increasingly developing in the context of bionic robotics because of their many advantages over conventional rigid manipulators. Due to their soft structure, they have inherent flexibility, which makes it a huge challenge to control them with high performances. Before elaborating a control strategy of such robots, it is essential to reconstruct first the behavior of the robot through development of an approximate behavioral model. This can be kinematic or dynamic depending on the conditions of operation of the robot itself...
August 2018: Soft Robotics
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