Soft-Robotic Peristaltic Pumping Inspired by Esophageal Swallowing in Man
The demand for novel actuation and sensation technologies has seen the emergence of the biomimetic engineering field where inspiration is drawn from phenomena observed in nature. Soft robotic techniques are particularly suitable for physical modeling in this area as they can be designed to manifest features such as mechanical compliance and continuity. The process of peristalsis is common in many organisms for locomotion or pumping transport of fluid or semi-solid materials. This research initiative looks into how inspiration from the esophageal phase of swallowing can be communicated into the engineering domain such that a physical model of the esophagus can be developed. The resulting device is of a soft-robotic nature, asserted by pneumatic actuation on a silicone rubber conduit. The continuous nature of device output, and its perturbation throughout pumping transport present some interesting trajectory generation and control challenges. The inspiration for the mechanical design as well as the embodiment of device transport intelligence is described.
KeywordsSoft Robot Peristalsis Esophagus Pumping Bio-mimicry
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