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Soft Fiber-Reinforced Pneumatic Actuator Design and Fabrication: Towards Robust, Soft Robotic Systems

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Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems (TAROS 2019)

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Soft robotics is a rapidly evolving, young research area. So far there are no well-established design standards nor fabrication procedures for soft robots. A number of research groups are working on soft robotics solutions independently and we can observe a range of designs realized in different ways. These soft robots are based on various actuation principles, are driven with various actuation media, and offer various actuation properties. Still, most of them require lots of manual effort and high manual fabrication skills from the person manufacturing these kinds of robots. A significant share of the proposed designs suffers from some imperfections that could be improved by simple design changes. In this work, we propose a number of design and fabrication rules for improving the performance and fabrication complexity of soft fiber-reinforced pneumatic actuators. The proposed design approach focuses on a circular geometry for the pressure chambers and applying a dense, fiber-based reinforcement. Such an approach allows for a more linear actuator response and reduced wear of the actuators, when compared to previous approaches. The proposed manufacturing procedure introduces the application of the reinforcement before the fabrication of the actuator body, significantly reducing the required fabrication effort and providing more consistent and more reliable results.

This work was supported in part by the EPSRC in the framework of the NCNR (National Centre for Nuclear Robotics) project (EP/R02572X/1) and the Innovate UK funded and q-bot led project WormBot.

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Correspondence to Jan Fras .

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Fras, J., Althoefer, K. (2019). Soft Fiber-Reinforced Pneumatic Actuator Design and Fabrication: Towards Robust, Soft Robotic Systems. In: Althoefer, K., Konstantinova, J., Zhang, K. (eds) Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems. TAROS 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11649. Springer, Cham.

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