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Soft Robotics

Lupe

 

In order to create Soft Hands, RBO Lab drives basic research on how to create soft robots and how to control them. The main topics are: a method to create robust, customizable and effective soft continuum actuators and control technology to exploit mechanical compliance effectively.

You can find tutorials, models and code regarding the creation and control of soft robots here.

PneuFlex actuators

Lupe

 

We develop a set of production processes and a complete design toolchain for soft continuum actuators under the name PneuFlex. The toolchain consists of several components:

  • A unified process to create PneuFlex actuators of diverse shape from a given mold
  • A method to automatically create PneuFlex molds from a parametric description of shape.
  • A method to automatically create PneuFlex molds from a description of mechanical parameters
  • A system to simulate a PneuFlex actuator or to simulate arrangements of actuators (i.e. soft hands)
  • A pneumatic control hardware tailored to the requirements of finger-size soft continuum actuators
  • Controllers to enable complex, synchronized actuation across PneuFlex actuators

Contact: Raphael Deimel

Soft Sensors

PneuFlex actuators with liquid metal strain sensors
Lupe

Due to the high deformability of soft actuators, most existing sensor technologies are not compatible. They often rely on joints and rigid links and are not flexible enough to work with silicone rubber based actuators.

This is why one branch of our research tackles this problem and investigates how to add rich tactile and proprioceptive feedback to highly flexible actuators like the PneuFlex.

An example of some of the alternative sensor technologies we explore are:

  • Deformation sensing using liquid metal strain sensors
  • Shape sensing using fiber Bragg grating of optical fibers
  • Strain sensing with conductive thermoplastic elastomer fibers
  • Touch sensing with stretchable multi-layer capacitive surfaces

 Contact: Vincent Wall

Printable Fingers

Lupe

Current and expected advances in additive manufacturing promise to provide roboticists with the means to literally print complete soft actuators in a single, automated manufacturing step. This could drastically simplify the fabrication process and allow for quicker exploration of various design properties. Additionally, incorporating structures on the mesoscale opens design choices not possible with solid bulk materials.

Together with our partners from the SoMa project we investigate how to create flexible 3D-models for pneumatic actuators, that we can simulate, adapt, and print.

Contact: Vincent Wall

Funding

Lupe

SoMa - Soft Manipulation, Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Commission. May 2015 - April 2019. Alexander von Humboldt professorship - awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt foundation and funded through the Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF,
July 2009 - June 2015

Publications

Raphael Deimel and Patrick Irmisch and Vincent Wall and Oliver Brock. Automated Co-Design of Soft Hand Morphology and Control Strategy for Grasping. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) (in press), 2017.

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Espen Knoop and Moritz Bächer and Vincent Wall and Raphael Deimel and Oliver Brock and Paul Beardsley. Handshakiness: Benchmarking for Human-Robot Hand Interactions. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) (in press), 2017.

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Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi and Raphael Deimel and Guido Montúfar and Vincent Wall and Oliver Brock. Morphological Computation: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) (in press), 2017.

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Vincent Wall and Gabriel Zöller and Oliver Brock. A Method for Sensorizing Soft Actuators and Its Application to the RBO Hand 2. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2017.

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Raphael Deimel and Marcel Radke and Oliver Brock. Mass Control of Pneumatic Soft Continuum Actuators with Commodity Components. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pp. 774–779, 2016.

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Raphael Deimel and Oliver Brock. A Novel Type of Compliant and Underactuated Robotic Hand for Dexterous Grasping. The International Journal of Robotics Research 35(1-3):161-185, 2016.

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Vincent Wall and Raphael Deimel and Oliver Brock. Selective Stiffening of Soft Actuators Based on Jamming. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 252-257, 2015.

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Raphael Deimel and Oliver Brock. A Novel Type of Compliant, Underactuated Robotic Hand for Dexterous Grasping. Robotics:Science and Systems (RSS), 2014.

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Raphael Deimel and Oliver Brock. A Compliant Hand Based on a Novel Pneumatic Actuator. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 2047–2053, 2013.

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