Soft Hybrid Wave Spring Actuators

9-DoF Wavespring Soft Manipulator


Soft continuum manipulators, inspired by squid tentacles and elephant trunks, show promise in allowing robots to safely interact with complex environments. One ongoing problem for these manipulators is torsional stiffness, as continuum manipulators are naturally compliant and cannot actively resist torsional strain. A hybrid actuator that combines molded silicone actuators with 3D printed flexible wave springs is used to overcome this problem. It is shown that the inclusion of the 3D printed wave spring increases actuator torsional stiffness by up to a factor of 10. Further investigation of these structures is performed using both experimentation and simulation. Finally, this hybrid actuator design is used to create a nine-degree-of-freedom soft continuum manipulator, which is used to perform a cantilevered pick-and-place task impossible for a traditional soft manipulator of similar size.

Advanced Intelligent Systems