University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Bio-Inspired Robotics Lab (BIRL) Seminar Series > A Novel Bioinspired Variable Stiffness Design Concept - Bridging the gap between Soft and Traditional Robotics

A Novel Bioinspired Variable Stiffness Design Concept - Bridging the gap between Soft and Traditional Robotics

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  • UserAgostino Stilli, KCL
  • ClockMonday 08 May 2017, 16:00-17:00
  • HouseCUED, LR6.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Josie Hughes.

Soft materials have opened new possibilities in robotics: the inherently soft mechanical structures and the low manufacturing costs are making soft robotics very promising for various applications. Furthermore, the advancement of soft material and multi-material 3D printing techniques are pushing the complexity of the design of such systems even further. Nevertheless, the sizable elastic deformations associated with the pneumatic actuation pose a limitation to the modelling and control of such systems. Moreover, the maximum stiffness of these silicone-based mechanisms is typically too low to provide performances comparable to those of their rigid-linked counterparts in regards to exertable forces, accuracy and task repeatability. This research aims at overcoming these limitations and bridging the gap between traditional and soft robotics by proposing a novel variable stiffness system design with the potential to be employed in a wide range of application areas. The proposed design takes inspiration from the antagonistic stiffening mechanism of muscles in nature, in which the balancing of two opposing contractile muscle forces allows to achieve infinite stable configurations. Different application areas have been investigated to show how this novel design concept can be applied to effectively improve or replace a wide range of state-of-the-art robotic systems. The simple mechanical structure and (cost-effective) fabrication process of the proposed concept allows for easy customization of design parameters, exertable force and desired stiffness. In this talk I will present the results of my PhD research and focus on the application of this new concept to:
  • Collaborative industrial robots
  • Continuum manipulators for robot-assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)
  • Exoskeletons for hand rehabilitation and enhancement

This talk is part of the Bio-Inspired Robotics Lab (BIRL) Seminar Series series.

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