A compact and low-cost robotic manipulator driven by supercoiled polymer actuators

Yang Yang, Zhicheng Liu, Yanhan Wang, Shuai Liu, Michael Yu Wang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOther

11 Citations (Scopus)


The supercoiled polymer (SCP) actuator is a novel artificial muscle, which is manufactured by twisting and coiling polymer fibers. This new artificial muscle is soft, low-cost and shows good linearity. Being utilized as an actuator, the artificial muscle could generate significant mechanical power in a muscle-like form upon electrical activation by Joule heating. In this study, we adopt this new artificial muscle to actuate a novel designed robotic manipulator, which is composed of two parts. The first part is a robotic arm based on the inspiration of the musculoskeletal system. The arm is fabricated with two ball-and-socket joints as skeleton and SCP actuators as driven muscles. The second part is a Fin Ray Effect inspired soft gripper that can perform grasping tasks on fragile objects. The manipulator prototype is fabricated and experimental tests are conducted including both simple but effective control of the bio-inspired arm as well as characterization of the gripper. Lastly, a pick and place demonstration of a fragile fruit is performed utilizing the proposed manipulator. We envision that the bio-inspired robotic manipulator design driven by SCP actuators could potentially be used in other robotic applications.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2020
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781728173955
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
EventIEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2020 - Paris, France
Duration: 31 May 202031 Aug 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
ISSN (Print)1050-4729


ConferenceIEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2020
Abbreviated titleICRA 2020
Internet address

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