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Soft Robot. 2019 Mar 23. doi: 10.1089/soro.2018.0061. [Epub ahead of print]

Fabrication and Dynamic Modeling of Bidirectional Bending Soft Actuator Integrated with Optical Waveguide Curvature Sensor.

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1 Institute of Robotics Research, State Key Laboratory of Digital Manufacturing Equipment and Technology, School of Mechanical Science and Engineering, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China.
2 Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.


Soft robots exhibit many exciting properties due to their softness and body compliance. However, to interact with the environment safely and to perform a task effectively, a soft robot faces a series of challenges such as dexterous motion, proprioceptive sensing, and robust control of its deformable bodies. To address these issues, this article presents a method for fabrication and dynamic modeling of a novel bidirectional bending soft pneumatic actuator that embeds a curvature proprioceptive sensor. The bidirectional bending deformation was generated by two similar chambers with a sinusoidal shape for reducing the internal dampness during bending deformation. An optical waveguide made from flexible poly (methyl methacrylate) material that is immune to the inlet pressure was embedded into the actuator body to measure its bending angle. A dynamic modeling framework based on step response and parameter fitting was proposed to establish a simple differential equation that can describe the nonlinear behavior of the soft actuator. Hence, a sliding mode controller is designed based on this differential equation and the Taylor expansion. The proposed dynamical model and the sliding mode controller were validated by trajectory tracking experiments. The performance of the bidirectional bending soft actuator, such as the linear output of the curvature sensor in different inflating patterns, the proprioceptive sensitiveness to the external environment, the output force, and large bending range under relatively small pressure, was evaluated by relevant experimental paradigms. Prototypes from the novel design and fabrication process demonstrated the soft actuator's potential applications in industrial grasping and hand rehabilitation.


bidirectional bending deformation; optical waveguide; proprioceptive; sliding mode control; soft actuator; trajectory tracking


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