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  1. Abstract Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the USA. Although advances in treatment over the past several decades have significantly improved the outlook for this disease, most women who are diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive disease remain at risk of metastatic relapse for the remainder of their life. The cellular source of late relapse in these patients is thought to be disseminated tumor cells that reactivate after a long period of dormancy. The biology of these dormant cells and their natural history over a patient’s lifetime is largely unclear. We posit that research on tumor dormancy has been significantly limited by the lack of clinically relevant models. This review will discuss existing dormancy models, gaps in biological understanding, and propose criteria for future models to enhance their clinical relevance.
  2. Snake robotics is an important research topic with a wide range of applications, including inspection in confined spaces, search-and-rescue, and disaster response. Snake robots are well-suited to these applications because of their versatility and adaptability to unstructured and constrained environments. In this paper, we introduce a soft pneumatic robotic snake that can imitate the capabilities of biological snakes, its soft body can provide flexibility and adaptability to the environment. This paper combines soft mobile robot modeling, proprioceptive feedback control, and motion planning to pave the way for functional soft robotic snake autonomy. We propose a pressure-operated soft robotic snake with a high degree of modularity that makes use of customized embedded flexible curvature sensing. On this platform, we introduce the use of iterative learning control using feedback from the on-board curvature sensors to enable the snake to automatically correct its gait for superior locomotion. We also present a motion planning and trajectory tracking algorithm using an adaptive bounding box, which allows for efficient motion planning that still takes into account the kinematic state of the soft robotic snake. We test this algorithm experimentally, and demonstrate its performance in obstacle avoidance scenarios.
  3. Pneumatically operated soft growing robots that extend via tip eversion are well-suited for navigation in confined spaces. Adding the ability to interact with the environment using sensors and tools attached to the robot tip would greatly enhance the usefulness of these robots for exploration in the field. However, because the material at the tip of the robot body continually changes as the robot grows and retracts, it is challenging to keep sensors and tools attached to the robot tip during actuation and environment interaction. In this paper, we analyze previous designs for mounting to the tip of soft growing robots, and we present a novel device that successfully remains attached to the robot tip while providing a mounting point for sensors and tools. Our tip mount incorporates and builds on our previous work on a device to retract the robot without undesired buckling of its body. Using our tip mount, we demonstrate two new soft growing robot capabilities: (1) pulling on the environment while retracting, and (2) retrieving and delivering objects. Finally, we discuss the limitations of our design and opportunities for improvement in future soft growing robot tip mounts.
  4. Soft continuum manipulators provide a safe alternative to traditional rigid manipulators, because their bodies can absorb and distribute contact forces. Soft manipulators have near infinite potential degrees of freedom, but a limited number of control inputs. This underactuation means soft continuum manipulators often lack either the controllability or the dexterity to achieve desired tasks. In this work, we present an extension of McKibben actuators, which have well-known models, that increases the controllable degrees of freedom using active reconfiguration of the constraining fibers. These Active Fiber Reinforced Elastomeric Enclosures (AFREEs) preform some combination of length change and twisting, depending on the fiber configuration. Experimental results shows that by changing the fiber angles within a range of -30 to 30 degrees and actuating the resulting configuration between 10.3 kPa and 24.1 kPa, we can achieve twists between ± 60 degrees and displacements between -2 and 4 mm. By additionally controlling the fiber lengths and pressure, we can modify the AFREE kinematics further, creating dynamic behaviors and trajectories of actuation. The presented actuator creates the possibility to reconFigure actuator kinematics to meet desired soft robot motions.