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Soft Robotics

Tiefeng Li, Zhanan Zou, Guoyong Mao, Xuxu Yang, Yiming Liang, Chi Li, Shaoxing Qu, Zhigang Suo, Wei Yang
A key challenge in bioinspired insect-scale running robots is to make them both agile and resilient. In this study, we develop a dielectric elastomer actuated soft robot that mimics inchworms. We use an elastomer to make the soft body, a stretchable dielectric to provide electrostatic actuation of high power density, and multizone actuation to achieve ratcheting locomotion. We fabricate the body, muscles, and feet in a single piece, with no internal open space. The robot runs four times its body length per second and turns at a radius about three times its body length in 0...
November 8, 2018: Soft Robotics
Aida Cavallo, Margherita Brancadoro, Selene Tognarelli, Arianna Menciassi
In recent years, minimally invasive surgery (MIS) has gained wider acceptance among surgeons. MIS requires high skills for the operators, mainly due to its intrinsic technical limitations. Tissue manipulation and retraction remain the most challenging tasks; more specifically liver, stomach, and intestine are the organs mostly involved in retraction tasks for abdominal procedures. The literature reports an increasing interest toward dedicated solutions for abdominal tissue retraction tasks. To overcome the limitations of commercial systems and research prototypes, the aim of this study is the design, the realization, and the validation of a retraction system that is simple, reliable, easy to use, safe, and broadly compatible with MIS...
November 8, 2018: Soft Robotics
Yongkang Jiang, Diansheng Chen, Che Liu, Jian Li
The ability to regulate the mechanical stiffness in a large range could be extremely important for soft robots to interact with the environment more effectively. In this article, we propose a novel chain-like granular jamming mechanism to achieve a large range of stiffness variation instantly, based on a method that is totally different from existing vacuum-based granular jamming systems. Theoretical modeling is introduced to find the best combination of granules to form the chain-like structure (CLS) and experiments are conducted to demonstrate it...
November 8, 2018: Soft Robotics
Lijun Teng, Kewen Pan, Markus P Nemitz, Rui Song, Zhirun Hu, Adam A Stokes
Increasing amounts of attention are being paid to the study of Soft Sensors and Soft Systems. Soft Robotic Systems require input from advances in the field of Soft Sensors. Soft sensors can help a soft robot to perceive and to act upon its immediate environment. The concept of integrating sensing capabilities into soft robotic systems is becoming increasingly important. One challenge is that most of the existing soft sensors have a requirement to be hardwired to power supplies or external data processing equipment...
November 8, 2018: Soft Robotics
Joseph D Greer, Tania K Morimoto, Allison M Okamura, Elliot W Hawkes
Soft continuum robots exhibit access and manipulation capabilities in constrained and cluttered environments not achievable by traditional robots. However, navigation of these robots can be difficult due to the kinematics of these devices. Here we describe the design, modeling, and control of a soft continuum robot with a tip extension degree of freedom. This design enables extremely simple navigation of the robot through decoupled steering and forward movement. To navigate to a destination, the robot is steered to point at the destination and the extension degree of freedom is used to reach it...
October 24, 2018: Soft Robotics
Jin-Gyu Lee, Hugo Rodrigue
A novel linear actuator called origami-based vacuum pneumatic artificial muscle (OV-PAM) is proposed in this study that can produce large forces (>400 N) with a contraction ratio >90% of the active length of the actuator. Moreover, some of the designs presented in this article can lift large loads with large contraction ratios at extremely low vacuum pressure (≈10 kPa). This actuator consists of a sealed origami film chamber connecting a polygonal top and bottom plate with evenly spaced transversal reinforcements that prevent the chamber from contracting laterally at certain points of the actuator under vacuum pressure...
October 19, 2018: Soft Robotics
Jinrong Li, Liwu Liu, Yanju Liu, Jinsong Leng
Soft robotics is an emerging area that attracts more and more attention. The intrinsic flexibility and compliance of soft materials and structures would endow novel functions with soft robots. Dielectric elastomers could deform sustainably subjected to external electrical stimuli and become promising materials for soft robots due to the large actuation strain, low elastic modulus, fast response, and high energy density. This article focuses on the fabrication, applications, and design of the dielectric elastomer spring-roll bending actuators...
October 18, 2018: Soft Robotics
Lianqing Liu, Chuang Zhang, Wenxue Wang, Ning Xi, Yuechao Wang
Biosyncretic robots have potential advantages associated with both living organisms and electromechanical systems. Skeletal muscle tissue is a candidate as bioactuators for biosyncretic robots because of its excellent contraction force and controllability. However, the low quality of myoblast (C2C12) differentiation into contractile myotubes and the lack of control research on biosyncretic robots are two of the main challenges in the development of biosyncretic robots. In this study, an approach with circularly distributed multiple electrodes (CEs) is proposed to improve C2C12 differentiation and to control the movement of a myotube-based biosyncretic crawling robot...
October 18, 2018: Soft Robotics
Michael Andy McEvoy, Nikolaus Correll
We describe a robotic material that tightly integrates sensing, actuation, computation, and communication to perform autonomous shape change. The composite consists of multiple cells, each with the ability to control their local stiffness (by Joule heating of a thermoplastic) and communicate with their local neighbors. We also present a distributed algorithm for calculating the inverse kinematic solution of the resulting N-body system by iteratively solving a series of problems with reduced kinematics. We describe material design choices, mechanism design, algorithm, and manufacturing, emphasizing the interdisciplinary codesign problem that robotic materials pose, and demonstrate the results from a series of shape-changing experiments...
October 12, 2018: Soft Robotics
Sungwoong Jeon, Ali Kafash Hoshiar, Kangho Kim, Seungmin Lee, Eunhee Kim, Sunkey Lee, Jin-Young Kim, Bradley J Nelson, Hyo-Jeong Cha, Byung-Ju Yi, Hongsoo Choi
Magnetically actuated soft robots may improve the treatment of disseminated intravascular coagulation. Significant progress has been made in the development of soft robotic systems that steer catheters. A more challenging task, however, is the development of systems that steer sub-millimeter-diameter guidewires during intravascular treatments; a novel microrobotic approach is required for steering. In this article, we develop a novel, magnetically actuated, soft microrobotic system, increasing the steerability of a conventional guidewire...
October 12, 2018: Soft Robotics
Yanqiong Fei, Jiangbei Wang, Wu Pang
This work presents the design and test of a novel fabric-based versatile and stiffness-tunable soft gripper integrating soft pneumatic fingers and wrist. The morphology is designed into a compact tuning fork shape (130 × 110 × 260 mm, 389 g) with two bidirectional sheet-shaped soft fingers and a biaxial bidirectional (universal) cylinder-shaped soft wrist. The multi-degree of freedom of soft fingers and wrist makes the gripper versatile and adaptable to gripping objects of various shapes, sizes, and orientations in a wide range...
October 12, 2018: Soft Robotics
Pham Huy Nguyen, Curtis Sparks, Sai G Nuthi, Nicholas M Vale, Panagiotis Polygerinos
We present the design and development of the fluid-driven, wearable, Soft Poly-Limb (SPL), from the Greek word polys, meaning many. The SPL utilizes the numerous traits of soft robotics to enable a novel approach in providing safe and compliant mobile manipulation assistance to healthy and impaired users. This wearable system equips the user with a controllable additional limb that is capable of complex three-dimensional motion in space. Similar to an elephant trunk, the SPL is able to manipulate objects using a variety of end effectors, such as suction adhesion or a soft grasper, as well as its entire soft body to conform around an object, able to lift 2...
October 10, 2018: Soft Robotics
Linda Paternò, Giuseppe Tortora, Arianna Menciassi
Fluidic mechanisms have stimulated research and development in minimally invasive surgery instrumentations, because of their good performance in limited size and their force/torque generation with respect to other types of actuation systems. Fluidic solutions can be divided in two major classes: (i) elastic fluidic actuators and (ii) piston-cylinder actuators. Elastic fluidic actuators generate lower forces with smaller displacements; nevertheless, piston-cylinder solutions require seals, which can generate friction and require maintenance costs for a good reliability...
October 3, 2018: Soft Robotics
Shotaro Yoshida, Yuya Morimoto, Lanying Zheng, Hiroaki Onoe, Shoji Takeuchi
We propose a pneumatic bending actuator integrated with a low-melting-point alloy-based variable stiffness endoskeleton that can bend at multiple points and maintain its bent shape without power supply. Local stiffness of the soft actuator can be altered by melting or hardening the endoskeleton with electric heat applied through embedded metal wires. Bending points of the actuator can be changed by selecting different points of the endoskeleton to be melted, and the bending angle can be controlled by injected air pressure...
October 2, 2018: Soft Robotics
Jiachen Zhang, Eric Diller
The actuation and control of miniature soft robots are challenging problems due to their limited onboard space and flexible bodies. Smart magnetic materials are promising candidates to address these challenges since they can be powered and guided remotely by magnetic field for functionalities, such as swimming, grasping, and pumping. In this study, we program an undulatory swimming gait into a small rectangular sheet that is made of a flexible magnetic homogeneous composite. The sheet bears a sinusoidal magnetization profile throughout its body and deforms into undulatory shapes in a rotating uniform magnetic field that aligns with its length...
September 25, 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
Josie Hughes, Fumiya Iida
There is increasing interest in the use of soft materials in robotic applications ranging from wearable devices to soft grippers. While soft structures provide a number of favorable properties to robotic systems, sensing of large deformable soft structures is still a considerable challenge; sensors must not inhibit the mechanical properties of the soft body, and the potential infinite degree-of-freedom deformations mean that there is an intrinsically limited resolution of the sensing receptors. An approach to address these challenges using a conductive thermoplastic elastomer is proposed...
October 2018: 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...
October 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...
October 2018: Soft Robotics
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