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  1. Shape change enables new capabilities for robots. One class of robots capable of dramatic shape change is soft growing “vine” robots. These robots usually feature global actuation methods for bending that limit them to simple, constant-curvature shapes. Achieving more complex “multi-bend” configurations has also been explored but requires choosing the desired configuration ahead of time, exploiting contact with the environment to maintain previous bends, or using pneumatic actuation for shape locking. In this paper, we present a novel design that enables passive, on-demand shape locking. Our design leverages a passive tip mount to apply hook-and-loop fasteners that hold bends without any pneumatic or electrical input. We characterize the robot's kinematics and ability to hold locked bends. We also experimentally evaluate the effect of hook-and-loop fasteners on beam and joint stiffness. Finally, we demonstrate our proof-of-concept prototype in 2D. Our passive shape locking design is a step towards easily reconfigurable robots that are lightweight, low-cost, and low-power. 
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  2. Despite non-co-location, haptic stimulation at the wrist can potentially provide feedback regarding interactions at the fingertips without encumbering the user’s hand. Here we investigate how two types of skin deformation at the wrist (normal and shear) relate to the perception of the mechanical properties of virtual objects. We hypothesized that a congruent mapping (i.e. when the most relevant interaction forces during a virtual interaction spatially match the haptic feedback at the wrist) would result in better perception than other map- pings.We performed an experiment where haptic devices at the wrist rendered either normal or shear feedback during manipulation of virtual objects with varying stiffness, mass, or friction properties. Perception of mechanical properties was more accurate with congruent skin stimulation than noncongruent. In addition, discrimination performance and subjective reports were positively influenced by congruence. This study demonstrates that users can perceive mechanical properties via haptic feedback provided at the wrist with a consistent mapping between haptic feedback and interaction forces at the fingertips, regardless of congruence. 
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  3. Relocation of haptic feedback from the fingertips to the wrist has been considered as a way to enable haptic interaction with mixed reality virtual environments while leaving the fingers free for other tasks. We present a pair of wrist-worn tactile haptic devices and a virtual environment to study how various mappings between fingers and tactors affect task performance. The haptic feedback rendered to the wrist reflects the interaction forces occurring between a virtual object and virtual avatars controlled by the index finger and thumb. We performed a user study comparing four different finger-to-tactor haptic feedback mappings and one no-feedback condition as a control. We evaluated users' ability to perform a simple pick-and-place task via the metrics of task completion time, path length of the fingers and virtual cube, and magnitudes of normal and shear forces at the fingertips. We found that multiple mappings were effective, and there was a greater impact when visual cues were limited. We discuss the limitations of our approach and describe next steps toward multi-degree-of-freedom haptic rendering for wrist-worn devices to improve task performance in virtual environments. 
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  4. Wearable fingertip haptic interfaces provide tac- tile stimuli on the fingerpads by applying skin pressure, linear and rotational shear, and vibration. Designing and fabricating a compact, multi-degree-of-freedom, and forceful fingertip haptic interface is challenging due to trade-offs among miniatur- ization, multifunctionality, and manufacturability. Downsizing electromagnetic actuators that produce high torques is infea- sible, and integrating multiple actuators, links, joints, and transmission elements increases device size and weight. 3-D printing enables rapid manufacturing of complex devices with minimal assembly in large batches. However, it requires a careful arrangement of material properties, geometry, scale, and printer capabilities. Here we present a fully 3-D printed, soft, monolithic fingertip haptic device based on an origami pattern known as the “waterbomb” base that embeds foldable vacuum actuation and produces 4-DoF of motion on the fingerpad with tunable haptic forces (up to 1.3 N shear and 7 N normal) and torque (up to 25 N-mm). Including the thimble mounting, the compact device is 40 mm long and 20 mm wide. This demonstrates the efficacy of origami design and soft material 3D printing for designing and rapidly fabricating miniature yet complex wearable mechanisms with force output appropriate for haptic interaction. 
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  5. To facilitate sensing and physical interaction in remote and/or constrained environments, high-extension, lightweight robot manipulators are easier to transport and reach substantially further than traditional serial chain manipulators. We propose a novel planar 3-degree-of-freedom manipulator that achieves low weight and high extension through the use of a pair of spooling bistable tapes, commonly used in self-retracting tape measures, which are pinched together to form a reconfigurable revolute joint. The pinching action flattens the tapes to produce a localized bending region, resulting in a revolute joint that can change its orientation by cable tension and its location on the tapes though friction-driven movement of the pinching mechanism. We present the design, implementation, kinematic modeling, stiffness behavior of the revolute joint, and quasi-static performance of this manipulator. In particular, we demonstrate the ability of the manipulator to reach specified targets in free space, reach a 2D target with various orientations, and maintain an end-effector angle or stationary bending point while changing the other. The long-term goal of this work is to integrate the manipulator with an aerial robot to enable more capable aerial manipulation. 
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  6. Soft robot serial chain manipulators with the capability for growth, stiffness control, and discrete joints have the potential to approach the dexterity of traditional robot arms, while improving safety, lowering cost, and providing an increased workspace, with potential application in home environments. This paper presents an approach for design optimization of such robots to reach specified targets while minimizing the number of discrete joints and thus construction and actuation costs. We define a maximum number of allowable joints, as well as hardware constraints imposed by the materials and actuation available for soft growing robots, and we formulate and solve an optimization problem to output a planar robot design, i.e., the total number of potential joints and their locations along the robot body, which reaches all the desired targets, avoids known obstacles, and maximizes the workspace. We demonstrate a process to rapidly construct the resulting soft growing robot design. Finally, we use our algorithm to evaluate the ability of this design to reach new targets and demonstrate the algorithm's utility as a design tool to explore robot capabilities given various constraints and objectives. 
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