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Bioinspir Biomim. 2017 Oct 16;12(6):066003. doi: 10.1088/1748-3190/aa839f.

Learning dynamic models for open loop predictive control of soft robotic manipulators.

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The Biorobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy.


The soft capabilities of biological appendages like the arms of Octopus vulgaris and elephants' trunks have inspired roboticists to develop their robotic equivalents. Although there have been considerable efforts to replicate their morphology and behavior patterns, we are still lagging behind in replicating the dexterity and efficiency of these biological systems. This is mostly due to the lack of development and application of dynamic controllers on these robots which could exploit the morphological properties that a soft-bodied manipulator possesses. The complexity of these high-dimensional nonlinear systems has deterred the application of traditional model-based approaches. This paper provides a machine learning-based approach for the development of dynamic models for a soft robotic manipulator and a trajectory optimization method for predictive control of the manipulator in task space. To the best of our knowledge this is the first demonstration of a learned dynamic model and a derived task space controller for a soft robotic manipulator. The validation of the controller is carried out on an octopus-inspired soft manipulator simulation derived from a piecewise constant strain approximation and then experimentally on a pneumatically actuated soft manipulator. The results indicate that such an approach is promising for developing fast and accurate dynamic models for soft robotic manipulators while being applicable on a wide range of soft manipulators.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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