Soft manipulator arms made of silicone elastomers and actuated by air allow for compliant manipulation and dynamic interactions.

The goal of this work is to develop a soft-robotic manipulation system that is capable of autonomous, dynamic, and safe interactions with humans and its environment. We provide a computational approach to whole arm planning for a soft planar manipulator that advances the arm’s end effector pose in task space while simultaneously considering the arm’s entire envelope in proximity to a confined environment. Further, we develop soft planar grasping manipulators capable of grasp-and-place operations by encapsulation with uncertainty in the position and shape of the object. We also develop a dynamic model for a multi-body fluidic elastomer manipulator that is composed entirely from soft rubber and subject to the self-loading effects of gravity. Then, we present a strategy for independently identifying all of the unknown components of the system. Using our model and trajectory-optimization techniques we find locally-optimal open-loop policies that allow the system to perform dynamic maneuvers. By studying extremely soft robots, we can begin to solve hard problems inhibiting the mainstream use of soft machines.

Research Areas

Members

Andrew Marchese