Actuation and Stiffening in Fluid-Driven Soft Robots Using Low-Melting-Point Material

Actuation and Stiffening in Fluid-Driven Soft Robots Using Low-Melting-Point Material

Categories Konferenz (reviewed)
Year 2019
Authors Peters, J.; Nolan, E.; Wiese, M.; Miodownik, M.; Spurgeon, S.; Arezzo, A.; Raatz, A.; Wurdemann*, H:
Published in IEEE/RSJ Int. Conf. on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Macau, China, pp. 2313-2318

Soft material robots offer a number of advantages over traditional rigid robots in applications including human-robot interaction, rehabilitation and surgery. These robots can navigate around obstacles, elongate, squeeze through narrow openings or be squeezed - and they are considered to be inherently safe. The ability to stiffen compliant soft actuators has been achieved by embedding various mechanisms that are generally decoupled from the actuation principle. Miniaturisation becomes challenging due to space limitations which can in turn result in diminution of stiffening effects. Here, we propose to hydraulically actuate soft manipulators with low-melting-point material and, at the same time, be able to switch between a soft and stiff state. Instead of allocating an additional stiffening chamber within the soft robot, one chamber only is used for actuation and stiffening. Low Melting Point Alloy is integrated into the actuation chamber of a single-compartment soft robotic manipulator and the interfaced robotic syringe pump. Temperature change is enabled through embedded nichrome wires. Our experimental results show higher stiffness factors, from 9-12 opposing the motion of curvature, than those previously found for jamming mechanisms incorporated in separate additional chambers, in the range of 2-8 for the same motion.

DOI 10.1109/IROS40897.2019.8967764