skip to main content

Title: Design of Pennate Topology Fluidic Artificial Muscle Bundles Under Spatial Constraints
In this paper, we investigate the design of pennate topology fluidic artificial muscle bundles under spatial and operating constraints. Soft fluidic actuators are of great interest to roboticists and engineers due to their potential for inherent compliance and safe human-robot interaction. McKibben fluidic artificial muscles (FAMs) are soft fluidic actuators that are especially attractive due to their high force-to-weight ratio, inherent flexibility, relatively inexpensive construction, and muscle-like force-contraction behavior. Observations of natural muscles of equivalent cross-sectional area have indicated that muscles with a pennate fiber configuration can achieve higher output forces as compared to the parallel configuration due to larger physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA). However, this is not universally true because the contraction and rotation behavior of individual actuator units (fibers) are both key factors contributing to situations where bipennate muscle configurations are advantageous as compared to parallel muscle configurations. This paper analytically explores a design case for pennate topology artificial muscle bundles that maximize fiber radius. The findings can provide insights on optimizing artificial muscle topologies under spatial constraints. Furthermore, the study can be extended to evaluate muscle topology implications on work capacity and efficiency for tracking a desired dynamic motion.
Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
1845203
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10322997
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the ASME 2021 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems SMASIS 2021
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. In this paper, we investigate the design of pennate topology fluidic artificial muscle bundles under spatial constraints. Soft fluidic actuators are of great interest to roboticists and engineers, due to their potential for inherent compliance and safe human–robot interaction. McKibben fluidic artificial muscles are an especially attractive type of soft fluidic actuator, due to their high force-to-weight ratio, inherent flexibility, inexpensive construction, and muscle-like force-contraction behavior. The examination of natural muscles has shown that those with pennate fiber topology can achieve higher output force per geometric cross-sectional area. Yet, this is not universally true for fluidic artificial muscle bundles, because the contraction and rotation behavior of individual actuator units (fibers) are both key factors contributing to situations where bipennate muscle topologies are advantageous, as compared to parallel muscle topologies. This paper analytically explores the implications of pennation angle on pennate fluidic artificial muscle bundle performance with spatial bounds. A method for muscle bundle parameterization as a function of desired bundle spatial envelope dimensions has been developed. An analysis of actuation performance metrics for bipennate and parallel topologies shows that bipennate artificial muscle bundles can be designed to amplify the muscle contraction, output force, stiffness, or work output capacity, as comparedmore »to a parallel bundle with the same envelope dimensions. In addition to quantifying the performance trade space associated with different pennate topologies, analyzing bundles with different fiber boundary conditions reveals how bipennate fluidic artificial muscle bundles can be designed for extensile motion and negative stiffness behaviors. This study, therefore, enables tailoring the muscle bundle parameters for custom compliant actuation applications.« less
  2. Lakhtakia, Akhlesh ; Martín-Palma, Raúl J. ; Knez, Mato (Ed.)
    In this study, the implementation and performance of bipennate topology fluidic artificial muscle (FAM) bundles operating under varying boundary conditions is investigated and quantified experimentally. Soft actuators are of great interest to design engineers due to their inherent flexibility and potential to improve safety in human robot interactions. McKibben fluidic artificial muscles are soft actuators which exhibit high force to weight ratios and dynamically replicate natural muscle movement. These features, in addition to their low fabrication cost, set McKibben FAMs apart as attractive components for an actuation system. Previous studies have shown that there are significant advantages in force and contraction outputs when using bipennate topology FAM bundles as compared to the conventional parallel topology1 . In this study, we will experimentally explore the effects of two possible boundary conditions imposed on FAMs within a bipennate topology. One boundary condition is to pin the muscle fiber ends with fixed pin spacings while the other is biologically inspired and constrains the muscle fibers to remain in contact. This paper will outline design considerations for building a test platform for bipennate fluidic artificial muscle bundles with varying boundary conditions and present experimental results quantifying muscle displacement and force output. These metrics aremore »used to analyze the tradespace between the two boundary conditions and the effect of varying pennation angles.« less
  3. Fluidic artificial muscles (FAMs), also known as McKibben actuators, are a class of fiber-reinforced soft actuators that can be pneumatically or hydraulically pressurized to produce muscle-like contraction and force generation. When multiple FAMs are bundled together in parallel and selectively pressurized, they can act as a multi-chambered actuator with bioinspired variable recruitment capability. The variable recruitment bundle consists of motor units (MUs)—groups of one of more FAMs—that are independently pressurized depending on the force demand, similar to how groups of muscle fibers are sequentially recruited in biological muscles. As the active FAMs contract, the inactive/low-pressure units are compressed, causing them to buckle outward, which increases the spatial envelope of the actuator. Additionally, a FAM compressed past its individual free strain applies a force that opposes the overall force output of active FAMs. In this paper, we propose a model to quantify this resistive force observed in inactive and low-pressure FAMs and study its implications on the performance of a variable recruitment bundle. The resistive force behavior is divided into post-buckling and post-collapse regions and a piecewise model is devised. An empirically-based correction method is proposed to improve the model to fit experimental data. Analysis of a bundle with resistive effectsmore »reveals a phenomenon, unique to variable recruitment bundles, defined as free strain gradient reversal.« less
  4. This paper experimentally investigates the mechanical behavior of inactive and low-pressure fluidic artificial muscle (FAM) actuators under applied axial load. In most cases, the active characteristics of an actuator are of interest because they provide valuable information about its force-strain relationship. However, a system of actuators requires attention to the interaction between individual units. One such configuration is a bundle of McKibben artificial muscle actuators arranged in parallel and used for load-adaptive variable recruitment. This bio-inspired actuator bundle sequentially increases the number of actuators activated depending on the load required, which is analogous to how motor units are recruited in a mammalian muscle tissue. While using the minimum number of actuators allows the bundle to operate efficiently, the resistive force of inactive elements acts against total bundle contraction due to their inherent stiffness. In addition, when the bundle transitions between recruitment levels, motor units for a given recruitment level may be gradually pressurized; these low-pressure motor units can also cause resistive forces. Experiments were conducted to characterize the complex interaction between the bladder and braided mesh that cause the resistive force and deflection of inactive and low-pressure elements. Based on observations made from experiments, the paper proposes the initial criteriamore »for developing a model of the resistive forces of a McKibben actuator, both individually, and within the context of a variable recruitment bundle.« less
  5. Abstract Fluidic artificial muscles (FAMs) are a popular actuation choice due to their compliant nature and high force-to-weight ratio. Variable recruitment is a bio-inspired actuation strategy in which multiple FAMs are combined into motor units that can be pressurized sequentially according to load demand. In a traditional ‘fixed-end’ variable recruitment FAM bundle, inactive units and activated units that are past free strain will compress and buckle outward, resulting in resistive forces that reduce overall bundle force output, increase spatial envelope, and reduce operational life. This paper investigates the use of inextensible tendons as a mitigation strategy for preventing resistive forces and outward buckling of inactive and submaximally activated motor units in a variable recruitment FAM bundle. A traditional analytical fixed-end variable recruitment FAM bundle model is modified to account for tendons, and the force–strain spaces of the two configurations are compared while keeping the overall bundle length constant. Actuation efficiency for the two configurations is compared for two different cases: one case in which the radii of all FAMs within the bundle are equivalent, and one case in which the bundles are sized to consume the same amount of working fluid volume at maximum contraction. Efficiency benefits can be foundmore »for either configuration for different locations within their shared force–strain space, so depending on the loading requirements, one configuration may be more efficient than the other. Additionally, a study is performed to quantify the increase in spatial envelope caused by the outward buckling of inactive or low-pressure motor units. It was found that at full activation of recruitment states 1, 2, and 3, the tendoned configuration has a significantly higher volumetric energy density than the fixed-end configuration, indicating that the tendoned configuration has more actuation potential for a given spatial envelope. Overall, the results show that using a resistive force mitigation strategy such as tendons can completely eliminate resistive forces, increase volumetric energy density, and increase system efficiency for certain loading cases. Thus, there is a compelling case to be made for the use of tendoned FAMs in variable recruitment bundles.« less