Shrinkable, stiffness-controllable soft manipulator based on a bio-inspired antagonistic actuation principle

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124 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper explores a new hybrid actuation principle combining pneumatic and tendon-driven actuators for a soft robotic manipulator. The fusion of these two actuation principles leads to an overall antagonistic actuation mechanism whereby pneumatic actuation opposes tendon actuation - a mechanism commonly found in animals where muscles can oppose each other to vary joint stiffness. We are taking especially inspiration from the octopus who belongs to the class of Cephalopoda; the octopus uses its longitudinal and transversal muscles in its arms to achieve varied motion patterns; activating both sets of muscles, the octopus can control the arm stiffness over a wide range. Our approach mimics this behavior and achieves comparable motion patterns, including bending, elongation and stiffening. The proposed method combines the advantages of tendon-driven and pneumatic actuated systems and goes beyond what current soft, flexible robots can achieve: because the new robot structure is effectively an inflatable, sleeve, it can be pumped up to its fully inflated volume and, also, completely deflated and shrunk. Since, in the deflated state, it comprises just its outer 'skin' and tendons, the robot can be compressed to a very small size, many times smaller when compared to its fully-inflated state. In this paper, we describe the mechanical structure of the soft manipulator. Proof-of-concept experiments focus on the robot's ability to bend, to morph from completely shrunk to entirely inflated as well as to vary its stiffness.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIROS 2014 Conference Digest - IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages2476-2481
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781479969340
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2014
Event2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2014 - Chicago, United States
Duration: 14 Sept 201418 Sept 2014

Conference

Conference2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityChicago
Period14/09/201418/09/2014

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