Institute for Computational Physics in Engineering

Manufacturing and Modelling of Soft Robots

Soft robots (continuum robots) are a new bio-inspired type of robot that are made almost entirely of soft materials and are capable of almost unrestricted deformation. They are typically controlled by tendons or pneumatics. Their potential is their enormous adaptability, robustness and compliance when in contact with other objects. Fields of application include assistance systems, rescue and reconnaissance missions, or use in automated manufacturing.

Since July 2019, our research on soft robots is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within SPP2100. Our project investigates the simulation of motion sequences and the contact between robots and other objects. Through the knowledge gained, we aim to facilitate the improvement of motion mechanisms. The approach we take is to approximate soft robots as a combination of beam-like actuators. The beam formulation makes dynamic simulations much more efficient than, for example, using FEM. The special properties of soft robots - especially the extreme flexibility and the (in our case) pneumatic actuation - pose special challenges in the modeling.

As a demonstration object for the knowledge gained, we are working on a modular bending actuator. It is designed in such a way that it can be built, modified and modeled with little effort. If required, several actuators can be connected in series.

Our snake robot in CAD

Test of a module of the snake robot in the lab

Simulation of the movement of a snake robot

Functional principle of an artificial snakeskin

Friction measurement of an artificial snakeskin basing on the Kirigami technique

Grant

Granted by DFG within the SPP 2100

Contact

Frederik Lamping

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