Bioinspired Control of Electro-Active Polymers for Next Generation Soft Robots
The emerging field of soft robotics offers the prospect of replacing existing hard actuator technologies with new soft-smart materials . Such materials have the potential to form a key component of safer, more compliant and light-weight robots. Soft robots constructed from these advanced materials could be used in a progressively wide range of applications, especially those involving interactions between robots and people in unstructured environments such as homes, hospitals and schools. Electroactive polymer (EAP) technologies such as dielectric elastomer (DEA) actuators and ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMCs) are a class of smart materials that are of particular interest for use in soft robotics . However, despite their great potential, EAP devices present a number of challenges for control. They are, for example, non-linear in behaviour, prone to degradation over time, and fabricated with wide tolerances. In this paper we describe a project that aims to develop novel bioinspired control strategies for EAPs addressing these key challenges.
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