A lobster-inspired bending module for compliant robotic applications

Yaohui Chen, Hoam Chung, Bernard Chen, Baoyinjiya, Yonghang Sun

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Ideally, robots may be designed to adapt to different tasks such as heavy lifting and handling delicate objects, in which the requirements in force compliance and position accuracy vary dramatically. While conventional rigid actuators are usually characterized by high precision and large force output, soft actuators are designed to be more compliant and flexible. In this paper, a lobster-inspired bending module with compliant actuation, enhanced torque output, and reconfigurability in assembling is presented. It is also capable of accurate control of its angular position with variable stiffness. Inspired by the anatomic structure of the lobster leg joint, the bending module has antagonistic soft chambers for actuation and rigid shells for structural protection and support. Theoretical models have been developed and their capability of independently adjusting both the bending angle and stiffness has been evaluated through experiments. A control strategy is constructed to realize angle control and stiffness adaptation. In order to demonstrate various applications of the proposed bending module, reconfigurable robotic fingers are assembled and shown to be capable of generating different motion profiles. In addition, robotic grippers are built for lifting both delicate and heavy objects, demonstrating applications that require both high force and compliant handling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number056009
Number of pages15
JournalBioinspiration & Biomimetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

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