For information on our electroadhesion enabled gripper, please go to this page
Artificial muscle-based soft robot arms
We develop dielectric minimum energy structures (DEMES) as a basic actuator module for soft robotics. DEMES are capable of large actuation stroke, and consist of a dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA, or artificial muscle) bonded onto a flexible frame, which makes it easy to form both simple and complex shapes. By careful choice of materials (i.e., kapton flex-PCB and pad-printed carbon-black PDMS electrodes), it is possible to implement additional functionalities such as sensors onto a frame, making our DEMES intelligent actuators particularly suited for soft robotics.
Removing space debris is an increasingly urgent task. One major challenge in this field is grabbing a non-cooperating target, such as a spinning satellite, so as to be able to de-orbit it. We are developing multi-segmented grippers to delicately nab small satellites or debris without creating additional space junk. The major advantages of using compliant polymer grippers are: their relative low weight (meaning that they are cost effect for being sent into space), their flexibility allowing them to be stored in small volumes by rolling or folding, and their conform to the shape of the debris, allowing “octopus”-like grabbing of arbitrary-shaped objects without generating more debris.
more info in our papers: IEEE Transactions on Mechatronics (2015)
The image on the right is the first prototype, consisting of a 4 cm long actuator. At zero volts, the arm is curved at about 90°
to the support. When 3 to 5 kV are applied, the arm moves to a completely flat configuration. Several arms can be used together as a gripper, or as legs of an autonomous robot.
The following two videos show the behavior of a two and four DEMES configured as a grippers.