Networked Soft Actuators with Programmable Deformations

Feifei Chen1, Jiawei Cao2, Michael Yu Wang3, Jian Zhu1, Yunfeng Zhang1

  • 1National University of Singapore
  • 2NUS
  • 3Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

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Abstract

Dielectric elastomers have shown great promise for soft actuators due to their considerable voltage-induced deformation. And dielectric elastomer actuators have been coupled with air masses to improve their actuation range. We propose a network of inflated dielectric elastomer actuators, interconnected via a chamber, with the advantages to be highly deformable and continuously controllable. The networked design helps largely postpone the occurrence of material failures of the actuators, resulting in a large continuous actuation range for their control. We further carried out experiments for validation, and the results were largely in line with the theoretical predictions. The deformations of the networked actuators are programmable by modulating the applied voltages, which can potentially be used for tactile display and distributed actuation in soft-bodied structures.

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