Soft Robotic Systems Using Flexible Control Electronics and Hydraulically Amplified Electrostatic Actuators
This presentation will describe the background and early progress for a recently awarded project from the FlexTech 2019 focused solicitation. The aim of this project is to integrate efficient soft actuators and flexible electronic control circuits in order to demonstrate a complete soft robotic system, based on flexible electronic modules that are capable of addressing and driving soft, muscle-like, hydraulically-amplified self-healing electrostatic (HASEL) actuators. This approach will allow for soft robotic structures that operate in an untethered fashion, providing unique opportunities for compliant human-machine interfaces that are inherently safe to interact with. A goal will be the demonstration synthetic muscular hydrostat integrating flexible electronics and soft actuator modules capable of manipulating objects, in order to mimic the remarkable capabilities of an octopus arm or elephant trunk - one of the most elusive structures for bioinspired continuum actuators, and an enabling human-machine interface allowing for robotic manipulation of or around delicate objects, and facile access to otherwise hard-to-reach areas. Background and recent developments in soft HASEL actuators, flexible/printed high voltage control electronics, and approaches for integrated soft robotic systems will be discussed.