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Soft Robotics

Guanjun Bao, Hui Fang, Lingfeng Chen, Yuehua Wan, Fang Xu, Qinghua Yang, Libin Zhang
Soft robotics is of growing interest in the robot community as well as in public media, and there is an increase in the quality and quantity of publications related to this topic. To formally elaborate this growth, we have used a bibliometric analysis to evaluate the publications in the field from 1990 to 2017 based on the Science Citation Index Expanded database. We present a detailed overview and discussion based on keywords, citation, h-index, year, journal, institution, country, author, and review articles...
May 21, 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...
May 15, 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...
May 10, 2018: Soft Robotics
Michelle Jennifer Luk, Derek Lobb, James Andrew Smith
Physical simulation systems are commonly used in training of midwifery and obstetrics students, but none of these systems offers a dynamic compliance aspect that would make them more truly representative of cervix ripening. In this study, we introduce a unique soft robot phantom that simulates the cervix softening during the latent labor phase of birth. This proof-of-concept robotic phantom can be dilated by 1 cm and effaced by 35% through the application of a Foley catheter-like loading mechanism. Furthermore, psychophysics trials demonstrate how untrained subjects can identify hard and soft states of the phantom with specificities of 91% and 87%, respectively...
May 9, 2018: Soft Robotics
Chih-Hsing Liu, Ta-Lun Chen, Chen-Hua Chiu, Mao-Cheng Hsu, Yang Chen, Tzu-Yang Pai, Wei-Geng Peng, Yen-Pin Chiang
This study presents the design of an underactuated, two-finger, motor-driven compliant gripper for grasping size-varied unknown objects. The gripper module consists of one main frame structure and two identical compliant fingers. The compliant finger is a monolithic compliant mechanism synthesized using a topology optimization method, and then prototyped by 3D printing using flexible filament. The input port for each finger is mounted on a moving platform driven by a gear motor, whereas the fixed port of the finger is mounted on a fixed platform...
May 9, 2018: Soft Robotics
Yao Li, Jinbin Wu, Hirotaka Sato
This study reports the first ever demonstration of the aero navigation of a free-flying insect based on feedback control. Instead of imitating the complicated kinetics and mechanisms of insect locomotion, a live insect can be directly transformed into a soft robot by embedding it with artificial devices. Since many insects can perform acrobatics aerially, thereby exhibiting far greater flexibility than current man-made flyers, correctly commanding the internal structures of an insect to perform based on the instructions would be a breakthrough...
May 3, 2018: Soft Robotics
Kohei Nakajima, Helmut Hauser, Tao Li, Rolf Pfeifer
Soft materials are increasingly utilized for various purposes in many engineering applications. These materials have been shown to perform a number of functions that were previously difficult to implement using rigid materials. Here, we argue that the diverse dynamics generated by actuating soft materials can be effectively used for machine learning purposes. This is demonstrated using a soft silicone arm through a technique of multiplexing, which enables the rich transient dynamics of the soft materials to be fully exploited as a computational resource...
April 30, 2018: Soft Robotics
Shunichi Kurumaya, Brennan T Phillips, Kaitlyn P Becker, Michelle H Rosen, David F Gruber, Kevin C Galloway, Koichi Suzumori, Robert J Wood
This article presents the development of modular soft robotic wrist joint mechanisms for delicate and precise manipulation in the harsh deep-sea environment. The wrist consists of a rotary module and bending module, which can be combined with other actuators as part of a complete manipulator system. These mechanisms are part of a suite of soft robotic actuators being developed for deep-sea manipulation via submersibles and remotely operated vehicles, and are designed to be powered hydraulically with seawater...
April 19, 2018: Soft Robotics
John Rieffel, Jean-Baptiste Mouret
Living organisms intertwine soft (e.g., muscle) and hard (e.g., bones) materials, giving them an intrinsic flexibility and resiliency often lacking in conventional rigid robots. The emerging field of soft robotics seeks to harness these same properties to create resilient machines. The nature of soft materials, however, presents considerable challenges to aspects of design, construction, and control-and up until now, the vast majority of gaits for soft robots have been hand-designed through empirical trial-and-error...
April 17, 2018: Soft Robotics
Thor Morales Bieze, Frederick Largilliere, Alexandre Kruszewski, Zhongkai Zhang, Rochdi Merzouki, Christian Duriez
This article presents a modeling methodology and experimental validation for soft manipulators to obtain forward kinematic model (FKM) and inverse kinematic model (IKM) under quasi-static conditions (in the literature, these manipulators are usually classified as continuum robots. However, their main characteristic of interest in this article is that they create motion by deformation, as opposed to the classical use of articulations). It offers a way to obtain the kinematic characteristics of this type of soft robots that is suitable for offline path planning and position control...
April 16, 2018: Soft Robotics
Li Wen, Ziyu Ren, Valentina Di Santo, Kainan Hu, Tao Yuan, Tianmiao Wang, George V Lauder
Although linear accelerations are an important common component of the diversity of fish locomotor behaviors, acceleration is one of the least-understood aspects of propulsion. Analysis of acceleration behavior in fishes with both spiny and soft-rayed median fins demonstrates that fin area is actively modulated when fish accelerate. We implemented an undulatory biomimetic robotic fish model with median fins manufactured using multimaterial three-dimensional printing-a spiny-rayed dorsal fin, soft-rayed dorsal/anal fins, and a caudal fin-whose stiffnesses span three orders of magnitude...
April 10, 2018: Soft Robotics
Yuval Harduf, Dongdong Jin, Yizhar Or, Li Zhang
Microscopic artificial swimmers have recently become highly attractive due to their promising potential for biomedical microrobotic applications. Previous pioneering work has demonstrated the motion of a robotic microswimmer with a flexible chain of superparamagnetic beads, which is actuated by applying an oscillating external magnetic field. Interestingly, they have shown that the microswimmer's orientation undergoes a 90°-transition when the magnetic field's oscillation amplitude is increased above a critical value...
April 5, 2018: Soft Robotics
Alex Zatopa, Steph Walker, Yigit Menguc
Soft robots are designed to utilize their compliance and contortionistic abilities to both interact safely with their environment and move through it in ways a rigid robot cannot. To more completely achieve this, the robot should be made of as many soft components as possible. Here we present a completely soft hydraulic control valve consisting of a 3D-printed photopolymer body with electrorheological (ER) fluid as a working fluid and gallium-indium-tin liquid metal alloy as electrodes. This soft 3D-printed ER valve weighs less than 10 g and allows for onboard actuation control, furthering the goal of an entirely soft controllable robot...
April 2, 2018: Soft Robotics
Andrés Martín, Antonio Barrientos, Jaime Del Cerro
This article presents a new method to solve the inverse kinematics problem of hyper-redundant and soft manipulators. From an engineering perspective, this kind of robots are underdetermined systems. Therefore, they exhibit an infinite number of solutions for the inverse kinematics problem, and to choose the best one can be a great challenge. A new algorithm based on the cyclic coordinate descent (CCD) and named as natural-CCD is proposed to solve this issue. It takes its name as a result of generating very harmonious robot movements and trajectories that also appear in nature, such as the golden spiral...
March 22, 2018: Soft Robotics
Yue Wang, Cherry Gregory, Mark A Minor
Molded silicone rubbers are common in manufacturing of soft robotic parts, but they are often prone to tears, punctures, and tensile failures when strained. In this article, we present a fabric compositing method for improving the mechanical properties of soft robotic parts by creating a fabric/rubber composite that increases the strength and durability of the molded rubber. Comprehensive ASTM material tests evaluating the strength, tear resistance, and puncture resistance are conducted on multiple composites embedded with different fabrics, including polyester, nylon, silk, cotton, rayon, and several blended fabrics...
March 19, 2018: Soft Robotics
Marlene Langer, Ernar Amanov, Jessica Burgner-Kahrs
Added to their high dexterity and ability to conform to complex shapes, continuum robots can be further improved to provide safer interaction with their environment. Indeed, controlling their stiffness is one of the most challenging yet promising research topics. We propose a tubular stiffening sheath as a replaceable cover for small-diameter continuum robots to temporarily increase the stiffness in a certain configuration. In this article, we assess and compare performances of two different stiffening modalities: granular and layer jamming, provide arguments for material selection and experimental results for stiffness with respect to lateral and axial applied forces...
March 2, 2018: Soft Robotics
Preston Ohta, Luis Valle, Jonathan King, Kevin Low, Jaehyun Yi, Christopher G Atkeson, Yong-Lae Park
As robots begin to interact with humans and operate in human environments, safety becomes a major concern. Conventional robots, although reliable and consistent, can cause injury to anyone within its range of motion. Soft robotics, wherein systems are made to be soft and mechanically compliant, are thus a promising alternative due to their lightweight nature and ability to cushion impacts, but current designs often sacrifice accuracy and usefulness for safety. We, therefore, have developed a bioinspired robotic arm combining elements of rigid and soft robotics such that it exhibits the positive qualities of both, namely compliance and accuracy, while maintaining a low weight...
April 2018: Soft Robotics
Dónal P Holland, Sara Berndt, Maxwell Herman, Conor J Walsh
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
April 2018: Soft Robotics
Christopher R Nesler, Tim A Swift, Elliott J Rouse
Substantial device mass and control complexity can hinder the impact of wearable robotic technologies, such as exoskeletons. Thus, despite promising previous research, the development of a simple, lightweight actuator for these systems has not yet been fully realized. The purpose of this study was to derive and demonstrate a proof-of-concept for a pneumatic interference actuator (PIA)-a lightweight, soft actuator able to produce torque by the self-intersection of a fabric balloon that arises from changes in physical geometry...
April 2018: Soft Robotics
Tat Thang Vo Doan, Melvin Y W Tan, Xuan Hien Bui, Hirotaka Sato
In this study, we describe the most ultralightweight living legged robot to date that makes it a strong candidate for a search and rescue mission. The robot is a living beetle with a wireless electronic backpack stimulator mounted on its thorax. Inheriting from the living insect, the robot employs a compliant body made of soft actuators, rigid exoskeletons, and flexure hinges. Such structure would allow the robot to easily adapt to any complex terrain due to the benefit of soft interface, self-balance, and self-adaptation of the insect without any complex controller...
February 2018: Soft Robotics
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