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Soft Robotic Manipulators with Enhanced Perception using Multimodal Sensory Skins, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

We propose that the key to robotic automation in unstructured environments is compliant robotic manipulators that can tolerate, sense, and leverage contact in a feedback loop. We will demonstrate an instrumented end-effector that will be capable of enhanced perception through observed and controlled contact. This approach requires: (i) a network of sensors capable of capturing the highly compliant state of the soft robot and high resolution tactile sensors for multi-point contact, (ii) integrating these sensors with a core embedded system capable of processing large arrays of sensor data and (iii) development of algorithms that can extract state/tactile information to serve as high frequency feedback to the control system. The goal of this STTR is to transfer the promising technology of elastomeric sensors from the Purdue Faboratory's research setting into a commercial product. These sensors present a solution to the remaining piece of the puzzle of how to manage and leverage the additional degrees of freedom of Pneubotics' compliant systems. Towards this goal, Otherlab will serve as the commercial expert with a deployable platform. We will provide requirements and specifications for the sensor design as well as insight into integration challenges and cost constraints. The Faboratory will serve as the experts on liquid-embedded elastomeric sensors, optimizing the design and fabrication methods to serve the commercial applications. The full system demonstrations proposed in this Phase I are feasible because we will exploit the Pneubotics' manipulators and gripper designs that Otherlab has developed through government grants (NASA, DARPA), commercial partners, and private funding. More »

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