Special Issue "Mechanics, Control, Design, Conceptualization and Fabrication of Soft Robotic Systems"

A special issue of Robotics (ISSN 2218-6581).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Gursel Alici

School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronic and Biomedical Engineering, University of Wollongong, Wollongong 2522 NSW, Australia
Website 1 | Website 2 | E-Mail
Phone: +61-2-4221-4145
Interests: soft robotics; system dynamics and control; robotic drug delivery systems; novel actuation concepts for biomechatronic applications; robotic mechanisms and manipulation systems; soft and smart actuators and sensors; medical robotics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In parallel to recent developments in soft smart materials and additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing), the field of soft robotics has been gathering significant momentum to bring a new dimension to the establishment of new robotic concepts, leading to the design and manufacture of soft robots, which will safely interact with (or operate within) the natural world better than their predecessors (i.e., robots made of hard components). As a sub-class of biologically inspired engineering, it is a new paradigm to establish novel robotic systems primarily made of soft materials, components, and active monolithic structures containing embedded actuation, sensing, and motion/force transmission elements. The progress in soft robotics will have a significant impact, especially on medical applications, including prosthetic limbs or devices, wearable robots, assistive devices, and rehabilitation devices. When there is an application for which a safe human-machine interaction and adaptability with a physical environment are required, there is a need for robotic arms or systems or components with adjustable stiffness, made of soft materials with programmable characteristics. The progress in soft robotics strongly depends on the progress in materials science and technology. This Special Issue focuses on mechanics, control, design, conceptualization, fabrication, and applications of soft robotic systems. Papers specifically addressing the theoretical, experimental, practical and technological aspects of soft robotics and extending concepts and methodologies from classical robotics to soft robotics will be highly suitable for this Special Issue. Potential themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Materials (e.g., smart, responsive, and structural) for soft robotics

  • Application of programmable matter concept to soft robotics

  • Soft smart materials amenable to additive manufacturing, with programmable mechanical (stiffness, damping, and similar) and electrical (resistance, capacitance) properties

  • Novel fabrication techniques such as additive manufacturing for soft robotics

  • Actuation, locomotion, manipulation, and sensing concepts for soft robotics

  • Soft or compliant mechanisms for soft robotics

  • Composite structures with programmable stiffness and damping

  • Modeling, analysis and control of highly compliant mechanisms and structures

  • Stretchable and flexible power sources and electronics for soft robotics

  • Compliance matching and interface for human-machine interaction

  • Optimization techniques for soft robotics

  • Biologically inspired concepts for soft robotics

  • Mechanics of soft robotic mechanisms and devices

  • Simulation and analysis tools for soft robotics

  • Design concepts based on embodied intelligence and morphological computation

  • Applications, case studies and prototyping of soft robotics.

Prof. Dr. Gursel Alici
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Robotics is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • soft robotics

  • soft actuators and sensors

  • smart materials

  • biologically-inspired robotics

  • soft robotic devices, compliant mechanisms

  • medical applications

  • assistive robotics

  • wearable robotics

  • topological optimization

Published Papers (5 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-5
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle
A Structural Optimisation Method for a Soft Pneumatic Actuator
Received: 12 April 2018 / Revised: 21 May 2018 / Accepted: 30 May 2018 / Published: 1 June 2018
PDF Full-text (5402 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study aims to investigate the effects of various design parameters on the actuation performance of a pneumatic network actuator (PNA), optimise its structure using the finite element method (FEM), and subsequently quantify the performance of the resulting actuator topology experimentally. The effects [...] Read more.
This study aims to investigate the effects of various design parameters on the actuation performance of a pneumatic network actuator (PNA), optimise its structure using the finite element method (FEM), and subsequently quantify the performance of the resulting actuator topology experimentally. The effects of the structural parameters, including the operation pressure, the wall thickness and the gap between the chambers, bottom layer thickness, and the geometry of the channel cross section, on the deformation and bending angle of the actuator were evaluated to optimise the performance of the pneumatic actuator. A Global Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was performed to investigate how the variables affect the mechanical output of the actuator and, thus, the significance of variables affecting the deformation (and bending angle) of the pneumatic actuator was identified. After the parameter optimisation, a pneumatic channel with a 4.5 mm bottom layer thickness, 1.5 mm wall thickness, and 1.5 mm gap between sequential chambers is recommended to perform optimised bending motion for the pneumatic network actuator. The optimised FE model results were verified experimentally. This design optimisation method based on the FEM and ANOVA analysis can be extended to the topology optimisation of other soft actuators. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessCommunication
Propulsion-Based Soft Robotic Actuation
Received: 28 September 2017 / Revised: 18 November 2017 / Accepted: 23 November 2017 / Published: 24 November 2017
PDF Full-text (3408 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The use of air propulsion to drive limb motion in soft robotics has been a largely untapped field even though the technology has been around since the 1700s. Air propulsion can generate greater degrees of motion in limb actuators compared to widely-experimented pneumatic [...] Read more.
The use of air propulsion to drive limb motion in soft robotics has been a largely untapped field even though the technology has been around since the 1700s. Air propulsion can generate greater degrees of motion in limb actuators compared to widely-experimented pneumatic actuators operating on expandable air channels, which are limited by air pressure input, minimum size and cyclic fatigue. To demonstrate the application of air propulsion in soft robotics motion, we developed a 3D-printed, tri-pedal, soft, air-driven robot that can perform biomimetic motions such as flexion and extension of limbs, crawling, rotation, grasping, kicking and picking of objects. To accomplish air-propelled actuation, milli-scale channels are incorporated throughout each limb that guides the pressurized air inflow to outlets of different directions. A Finite Element Model (FEM) approach to simulate the bending response of the limb due to varying pressure is proposed and evaluated. This study introduces the potential of using air propulsion as an alternate form of soft body actuation for longer cyclic lifespan and increased maximum air pressure input. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Estimation of Physical Human-Robot Interaction Using Cost-Effective Pneumatic Padding
Received: 23 May 2016 / Revised: 5 August 2016 / Accepted: 8 August 2016 / Published: 16 August 2016
PDF Full-text (8734 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The idea to use a cost-effective pneumatic padding for sensing of physical interaction between a user and wearable rehabilitation robots is not new, but until now there has not been any practical relevant realization. In this paper, we present a novel method to [...] Read more.
The idea to use a cost-effective pneumatic padding for sensing of physical interaction between a user and wearable rehabilitation robots is not new, but until now there has not been any practical relevant realization. In this paper, we present a novel method to estimate physical human-robot interaction using a pneumatic padding based on artificial neural networks (ANNs). This estimation can serve as rough indicator of applied forces/torques by the user and can be applied for visual feedback about the user’s participation or as additional information for interaction controllers. Unlike common mostly very expensive 6-axis force/torque sensors (FTS), the proposed sensor system can be easily integrated in the design of physical human-robot interfaces of rehabilitation robots and adapts itself to the shape of the individual patient’s extremity by pressure changing in pneumatic chambers, in order to provide a safe physical interaction with high user’s comfort. This paper describes a concept of using ANNs for estimation of interaction forces/torques based on pressure variations of eight customized air-pad chambers. The ANNs were trained one-time offline using signals of a high precision FTS which is also used as reference sensor for experimental validation. Experiments with three different subjects confirm the functionality of the concept and the estimation algorithm. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Soft Pneumatic Bending Actuator with Integrated Carbon Nanotube Displacement Sensor
Received: 31 October 2015 / Revised: 6 January 2016 / Accepted: 17 February 2016 / Published: 24 February 2016
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (20199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The excellent compliance and large range of motion of soft actuators controlled by fluid pressure has lead to strong interest in applying devices of this type for biomimetic and human-robot interaction applications. However, in contrast to soft actuators fabricated from stretchable silicone materials, [...] Read more.
The excellent compliance and large range of motion of soft actuators controlled by fluid pressure has lead to strong interest in applying devices of this type for biomimetic and human-robot interaction applications. However, in contrast to soft actuators fabricated from stretchable silicone materials, conventional technologies for position sensing are typically rigid or bulky and are not ideal for integration into soft robotic devices. Therefore, in order to facilitate the use of soft pneumatic actuators in applications where position sensing or closed loop control is required, a soft pneumatic bending actuator with an integrated carbon nanotube position sensor has been developed. The integrated carbon nanotube position sensor presented in this work is flexible and well suited to measuring the large displacements frequently encountered in soft robotics. The sensor is produced by a simple soft lithography process during the fabrication of the soft pneumatic actuator, with a greater than 30% resistance change between the relaxed state and the maximum displacement position. It is anticipated that integrated resistive position sensors using a similar design will be useful in a wide range of soft robotic systems. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview
Biomimetic Spider Leg Joints: A Review from Biomechanical Research to Compliant Robotic Actuators
Received: 30 May 2016 / Revised: 6 July 2016 / Accepted: 7 July 2016 / Published: 15 July 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3981 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Due to their inherent compliance, soft actuated joints are becoming increasingly important for robotic applications, especially when human-robot-interactions are expected. Several of these flexible actuators are inspired by biological models. One perfect showpiece for biomimetic robots is the spider leg, because it combines [...] Read more.
Due to their inherent compliance, soft actuated joints are becoming increasingly important for robotic applications, especially when human-robot-interactions are expected. Several of these flexible actuators are inspired by biological models. One perfect showpiece for biomimetic robots is the spider leg, because it combines lightweight design and graceful movements with powerful and dynamic actuation. Building on this motivation, the review article focuses on compliant robotic joints inspired by the function principle of the spider leg. The mechanism is introduced by an overview of existing biological and biomechanical research. Thereupon a classification of robots that are bio-inspired by spider joints is presented. Based on this, the biomimetic robot applications referring to the spider principle are identified and discussed. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Robotics EISSN 2218-6581 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top