Soft Continuum arms, such as trunk and tentacle robots, can be considered as the “dual” of traditional rigid-bodied robots in terms of manipulability, degrees of freedom, and compliance. Introduced two decades ago, continuum arms have not yet realized their full potential, and largely remain as laboratory curiosities. The reasons for this lag rest upon their inherent physical features such as high compliance which contribute to their complex control problems that no research has yet managed to surmount. Recently, reservoir computing has been suggested as a way to employ the body dynamics as a computational resource toward implementing compliant body control. In this paper, as a first step, we investigate the information processing capability of soft continuum arms. We apply input signals of varying amplitude and bandwidth to a soft continuum arm and generate the dynamic response for a large number of trials. These data is aggregated and used to train the readout weights to implement a reservoir computing scheme. Results demonstrate that the information processing capability varies across input signal bandwidth and amplitude. These preliminary results demonstrate that soft continuum arms have optimal bandwidth and amplitude where one can implement reservoir computing.
Modeling, Reduction, and Control of a Helically Actuated Inertial Soft Robotic Arm via the Koopman Operator
Soft robots promise improved safety and capabil- ity over rigid robots when deployed in complex, delicate, and dynamic environments. However the infinite degrees of freedom and highly nonlinear dynamics of these systems severely com- plicate their modeling and control. As a step toward addressing this open challenge, we apply the data-driven, Hankel Dynamic Mode Decomposition (HDMD) with time delay observables to the model identification of a highly inertial, helical soft robotic arm with a high number of underactuated degrees of freedom. The resulting model is linear and hence amenable to control via a Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR). Using our test bed device, a dynamic, lightweight pneumatic fabric arm with an inertial mass at the tip, we show that the combination of HDMD and LQR allows us to command our robot to achieve arbitrary poses using only open loop control. We further show that Koopman spectral analysis gives us a dimensionally reduced basis of modes which decreases computational complexity without sacrificing predictive power.
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