Novel Design of a Soft Lightweight Pneumatic Continuum Robot Arm with Decoupled Variable Stiffness and Positioning

Maria Elena Giannaccini, Chaoqun Xiang, Adham Atyabi, Theo Theodoridis, Samia Nefti-Meziani, Steve Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

245 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Soft robot arms possess unique capabilities when it comes to adaptability, flexibility, and dexterity. In addition, soft systems that are pneumatically actuated can claim high power-to-weight ratio. One of the main drawbacks of pneumatically actuated soft arms is that their stiffness cannot be varied independently from their end-effector position in space. The novel robot arm physical design presented in this article successfully decouples its endeffector positioning from its stiffness. An experimental characterization of this ability is coupled with a mathematical analysis. The arm combines the light weight, high payload to weight ratio and robustness of pneumatic actuation with the adaptability and versatility of variable stiffness. Light weight is a vital component of the inherent safety approach to physical human-robot interaction. To characterize the arm, a neural network analysis of the curvature of the arm for different input pressures is performed. The curvature-pressure relationship
is also characterized experimentally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-70
Number of pages17
JournalSoft Robotics
Volume5
Issue number1
Early online date1 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

Keywords

  • Soft robot arm
  • variable stiffness
  • pneumatic actuators
  • physical human-robot interaction

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