Modular soft pneumatic actuator system design for compliance matching

The future of robotics is personal. Never before has technology been as pervasive as it is today, with advanced mobile electronics hardware and multi-level network connectivity pushing “smart” devices deeper into our daily lives through home automation systems, virtual assistants, and wearable activity monitoring. As the suite of personal technology around us continues to grow in this way, augmenting and offloading the burden of routine activities of daily living, the notion that this trend will extend to robotics seems inevitable. Transitioning robots from their current principal domain of industrial factory settings to domestic, workplace, or public environments is not simply a matter of relocation or reprogramming, however. The key differences between “traditional” types of robots and those which would best serve personal, proximal, human interactive applications demand a new approach to their design. Chief among these are requirements for safety, adaptability, reliability, reconfigurability, and to a more practical extent, usability. These properties frame the context and objectives of my thesis work, which seeks to provide solutions and answers to not only how these features might be achieved in personal robotic systems, but as well what benefits they can afford. I approach the investigation of these questions from a perspective of compliance matching of hardware systems to their applications, by providing methods to achieve mechanical attributes complimentary to their environment and end-use. These features are fundamental to the burgeoning field of Soft Robotics, wherein flexible, compliant materials are used as the basis for the structure, actuation, sensing, and control of complete robotic systems. Combined with pressurized air as a power source, soft pneumatic actuator (SPA) based systems offers new and novel methods of exploiting the intrinsic compliance of soft material components in robotic systems. While this strategy seems to answer many of the needs for human-safe robotic applications, it also brings new questions and challenges: What are the needs and applications personal robots may best serve? Are soft pneumatic actuators capable of these tasks, or “useful” work output and performance? How can SPA based systems be applied to provide complex functionality needed for operation in diverse, real-world environments? What are the theoretical and practical challenges in implementing scalable, multiple degrees of freedom systems, and how can they be overcome? I present solutions to these problems in my thesis work, elucidated through scientific design, testing and evaluation of robotic prototypes which leverage and demonstrate three key features: 1) Intrinsic compliance: provided by passive elastic and flexible component material properties, 2) Extrinsic compliance: rendered through high number of independent, controllable degrees of freedom, and 3) Complementary design: exhibited by modular, plug and play architectures which combine both attributes to achieve compliant systems. Through these core projects and others listed below I have been engaged in soft robotic technology, its application, and solutions to the challenges which are critical to providing a path forward within the soft robotics field, as well as for the future of personal robotics as a whole toward creating a better society.


Advisor(s):
Paik, Jamie
Year:
2019
Publisher:
Lausanne, EPFL
Keywords:
Laboratories:
RRL




 Record created 2019-05-01, last modified 2019-10-04

Fulltext:
Download fulltext
PDF

Rate this document:

Rate this document:
1
2
3
 
(Not yet reviewed)