skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Hawkes, Elliot W."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. null (Ed.)
  2. Navigation and motion control of a robot to a destination are tasks that have historically been performed with the assumption that contact with the environment is harmful. This makes sense for rigid-bodied robots, where obstacle collisions are fundamentally dangerous. However, because many soft robots have bodies that are low-inertia and compliant, obstacle contact is inherently safe. As a result, constraining paths of the robot to not interact with the environment is not necessary and may be limiting. In this article, we mathematically formalize interactions of a soft growing robot with a planar environment in an empirical kinematic model. Using this interaction model, we develop a method to plan paths for the robot to a destination. Rather than avoiding contact with the environment, the planner exploits obstacle contact when beneficial for navigation. We find that a planner that takes into account and capitalizes on environmental contact produces paths that are more robust to uncertainty than a planner that avoids all obstacle contact.
  3. Soft, tip-extending "vine" robots offer a unique mode of inspection and manipulation in highly constrained environments. For practicality, it is desirable that the distal end of the robot can be manipulated freely, while the body remains stationary. However, in previous vine robots, either the shape of the body was fixed after growth with no ability to manipulate the distal end, or the whole body moved together with the tip. Here, we present a concept for shape-locking that enables a vine robot to move only its distal tip, while the body is locked in place. This is achieved using two inextensible, pressurized, tip-extending, chambers that "grow" along the sides of the robot body, preserving curvature in the section where they have been deployed. The length of the locked and free sections can be varied by controlling the extension and retraction of these chambers. We present models describing this shape-locking mechanism and workspace of the robot in both free and constrained environments. We experimentally validate these models, showing an increased dexterous workspace compared to previous vine robots. Our shape-locking concept allows improved performance for vine robots, advancing the field of soft robotics for inspection and manipulation in highly constrained environments.
  4. The establishment of a new academic field is often characterized by a phase of rapid growth, as seen over the last decade in the field of soft robotics. However, such growth can be followed by an equally rapid decline if concerted efforts are not made by the community. Here, we argue that for soft robotics to take root and have impact in the next decade, we must move beyond “soft for soft’s sake” and ensure that each study makes a meaningful contribution to the field and, ideally, to robotics and engineering more broadly. We present a three-tiered categorization to help researchers and reviewers evaluate work and guide studies toward higher levels of contribution. We ground this categorization with historical examples of soft solutions outside of robotics that were transformative. We believe that the proposed self-reflection is essential if soft robotics is to be an impactful field in the next decade, advancing robotics and engineering both within and beyond academia and creating soft solutions that are quantitatively superior to the current state of the art—soft, rigid, or otherwise.

  5. Early root growth is critical for plant establishment and survival. We have identified a molecular pathway required for helical root tip movement known as circumnutation. Here, we report a multiscale investigation of the regulation and function of this phenomenon. We identify key cell signaling events comprising interaction of the ethylene, cytokinin, and auxin hormone signaling pathways. We identify the geneOryza sativahistidine kinase-1 (HK1) as well as the auxin influx carrier geneOsAUX1as essential regulators of this process in rice. Robophysical modeling and growth challenge experiments indicate circumnutation is critical for seedling establishment in rocky soil, consistent with the long-standing hypothesis that root circumnutation facilitates growth past obstacles. Thus, the integration of robotics, physics, and biology has elucidated the functional importance of root circumnutation and uncovered the molecular mechanisms underlying its regulation.

  6. For robots to be useful for real-world applications, they must be safe around humans, be adaptable to their environment, and operate in an untethered manner. Soft robots could potentially meet these requirements; however, existing soft robotic architectures are limited by their ability to scale to human sizes and operate at these scales without a tether to transmit power or pressurized air from an external source. Here, we report an untethered, inflated robotic truss, composed of thin-walled inflatable tubes, capable of shape change by continuously relocating its joints, while its total edge length remains constant. Specifically, a set of identical roller modules each pinch the tube to create an effective joint that separates two edges, and modules can be connected to form complex structures. Driving a roller module along a tube changes the overall shape, lengthening one edge and shortening another, while the total edge length and hence fluid volume remain constant. This isoperimetric behavior allows the robot to operate without compressing air or requiring a tether. Our concept brings together advantages from three distinct types of robots—soft, collective, and truss-based—while overcoming certain limitations of each. Our robots are robust and safe, like soft robots, but not limited by a tether;more »are modular, like collective robots, but not limited by complex subunits; and are shape-changing, like truss robots, but not limited by rigid linear actuators. We demonstrate two-dimensional (2D) robots capable of shape change and a human-scale 3D robot capable of punctuated rolling locomotion and manipulation, all constructed with the same modular rollers and operating without a tether.« less