MORE | Fall 2022

Design, Optimization and Control of a Soft Pneumatic Actuator

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Soft robotics has seen many exciting applications in human-robot interaction, search and rescue, and even space exploration. Increasing efforts are being made to predict and simulate the behavior of soft pneumatic actuators (SPA), which present a promising solution to drive soft robots. The primary use of a soft bending pneumatic actuator can be observed in the wearable robotics field. Rehabilitation is one major area where an exoskeleton makes a difference. Studies show how a simple bending soft pneumatic actuator helps in the reduction of effort put in by corresponding muscle activity. By studying such simple yet elegant actuators and the ways in which they can be improved by optimizing design and control systems, a foundation can be established to develop wearable assistive devices for health care. The nonlinear nature of materials used in the fabrication and modeling of SPAs magnifies the difficulty in estimating the state of the actuator including position and orientation. In this project, techniques to optimize design without relying on manufacturing multiple actuators but by finite element analysis are to be explored in addition to control algorithms and experimental validation.

Student researcher

Jahnav Rokalaboina

Robotics and autonomous systems

Hometown: Warangal, Telangana, India

Graduation date: Spring 2023