skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on June 1, 2023

Title: Modeling of Soft Robotic Grippers Integrated With Fluidic Prestressed Composite Actuators
Abstract Soft robotic grippers can gently grasp and maneuver objects. However, they are difficult to model and control due to their highly deformable fingers and complex integration with robotic systems. This paper investigates the design requirements as well as the grasping capabilities and performance of a soft gripper system based on fluidic prestressed composite (FPC) fingers. An analytical model is constructed as follows: each finger is modeled using the chained composite model (CCM); strain energy and work done by pressure and loads are computed using polynomials with unknown coefficients; net energy is minimized using the Rayleigh–Ritz method to calculate the deflected equilibrium shapes of the finger as a function of pressure and loads; and coordinate transformation and gripper geometries are combined to analyze the grasping performance. The effects of prestrain, integration angle, and finger overlap on the grasping performance are examined through a parametric study. We also analyze gripping performance for cuboidal and spherical objects and show how the grasping force can be controlled by varying fluidic pressure. The quasi-static responses of fabricated actuators are measured under pressures and loads. It is shown that the actuators’ modeled responses agree with the experimental results. This work provides a framework for the more » theoretical analysis of soft robotic grippers and the methods presented can be extended to model grippers with different types of actuation. « less
; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Soft and continuously controllable grippers can be assembled from fluidic prestressed composite (FPC) actuators. Due to their highly deformable features, it is difficult to model such actuators for large deflections. This article proposes a new method for modeling large deflections of FPC actuators called the chained composite model (CCM) to characterize the quasi-static response to an applied fluid pressure and load. The CCM divides an FPC actuator into discrete elements and models each element by a small rotation model. The strain energy of each element and the work done by pressure and loads are computed using third-order displacement polynomials withmore »unknown coefficients; then, the total energy is minimized to calculate stable shapes using the Rayleigh–Ritz method. This study provides a set of systematic design rules to help the robotics community create FPC actuators by understanding how their responses vary as a function of input forces and pressures for a number of modeling and design parameters. Composite actuators are fabricated and a soft gripper is developed to demonstrate the grasping ability of the FPCactuators. Pneumatic pressure and end loads are applied to the composite actuators, and their responses are measured. The modeled responses of the actuators are shown to be in agreement with the measured responses.« less
  2. Compliant grasping is crucial for secure handling objects not only vary in shapes but also in mechanical properties. We propose a novel soft robotic gripper with decoupled stiffness and shape control capability for performing adaptive grasping with minimum system complexity. The proposed soft fingers conform to object shapes facilitating the handling of objects of different types, shapes, and sizes. Each soft gripper finger has a length constraining mechanism (an articulable rigid backbone) and is powered by pneumatic muscle actuators. We derive the kinematic model of the gripper and use an empirical approach to simultaneously map input pressures to stiffness controlmore »and bending deformation of fingers. We use these mappings to demonstrate decoupled stiffness and shape (bending) control of various grasping configurations. We conduct tests to quantify the grip quality when holding objects as the gripper changes orientation, the ability to maintain the grip as the gripper is subjected to translational and rotational movements, and the external force perturbations required to release the object from the gripper under various stiffness and shape (bending) settings. The results validate the proposed gripper’s performance and show how the decoupled stiffness and shape control can improve the grasping quality in soft robotic grippers.« less
  3. Abstract In this paper, we present a novel compliant robotic gripper with three variable stiffness fingers. While the shape morphing of the fingers is cable-driven, the stiffness variation is enabled by layer jamming. The inherent flexibility makes compliant gripper suitable for tasks such as grasping soft and irregular objects. However, their relatively low load capacity due to intrinsic compliance limits their applications. Variable stiffness robotic grippers have the potential to address this challenge as their stiffness can be tuned on demand of tasks. In our design, the compliant backbone of finger is made of 3D-printed PLA materials sandwiched between thinmore »film materials. The workflow of the robotic gripper follows two basic steps. First, the compliant skeleton is driven by a servo motor via a tension cable and bend to a desired shape. Second, upon application of a negative pressure, the finger is stiffened up because friction between contact surfaces of layers that prevents their relative movement increases. As a result, their load capacity will be increased proportionally. Tests for stiffness of individual finger and load capacity of the robotic gripper are conducted to validate capability of the design. The results showed a 180-fold increase in stiffness of individual finger and a 30-fold increase in gripper’s load capacity.« less
  4. Traditional parallel-jaw grippers are insufficient for delicate object manipulation due to their stiffness and lack of dexterity. Other dexterous robotic hands often have bulky fingers, rely on complex time-varying cable drives, or are prohibitively expensive. In this paper, we introduce a novel low-cost compliant gripper with two centimeter-scaled 3-DOF delta robots using off-the-shelf linear actuators and 3D-printed soft materials. To model the kinematics of delta robots with soft compliant links, which diverge from typical rigid links, we train neural networks using a perception system. Furthermore, we analyze the delta robot’s force profile by varying the starting position in its workspacemore »and measuring the resulting force from a push action. Finally, we demonstrate the compliance and dexterity of our gripper through six dexterous manipulation tasks involving small and delicate objects. Thus, we present the groundwork for creating modular multi-fingered hands that can execute precise and low-inertia manipulations.« less
  5. In both biological and engineered systems, functioning at peak power output for prolonged periods of time requires thermoregulation. Here, we report a soft hydrogel-based actuator that can maintain stable body temperatures via autonomic perspiration. Using multimaterial stereolithography, we three-dimensionally print finger-like fluidic elastomer actuators having a poly- N -isopropylacrylamide (PNIPAm) body capped with a microporous (~200 micrometers) polyacrylamide (PAAm) dorsal layer. The chemomechanical response of these hydrogel materials is such that, at low temperatures (<30°C), the pores are sufficiently closed to allow for pressurization and actuation, whereas at elevated temperatures (>30°C), the pores dilate to enable localized perspiration in themore »hydraulic actuator. Such sweating actuators exhibit a 600% enhancement in cooling rate (i.e., 39.1°C minute −1 ) over similar non-sweating devices. Combining multiple finger actuators into a single device yields soft robotic grippers capable of both mechanically and thermally manipulating various heated objects. The measured thermoregulatory performance of these sweating actuators (~107 watts kilogram −1 ) greatly exceeds the evaporative cooling capacity found in the best animal systems (~35 watts kilogram −1 ) at the cost of a temporary decrease in actuation efficiency.« less