A Variable Stiffness Soft Gripper Using Granular Jamming and Biologically Inspired Pneumatic Muscles
As the domains, in which robots operate change the objects a robot may be required to grasp and manipulate, are likely to vary significantly and often. Furthermore there is increasing likelihood that in the future robots will work collaboratively alongside people. There has therefore been interest in the development of biologically inspired robot designs which take inspiration from nature. This paper presents the design and testing of a variable stiffness, three fingered soft gripper, which uses pneumatic muscles to actuate the fingers and granular jamming to vary their stiffness. This gripper is able to adjust its stiffness depending upon how fragile/deformable the object being grasped is. It is also lightweight and low inertia, making it better suited to operation near people. Each finger is formed from a cylindrical rubber bladder filled with a granular material. It is shown how decreasing the pressure inside the finger increases the jamming effect and raises finger stiffness. The paper shows experimentally how the finger stiffness can be increased from 21 N·m−1 to 71 N·m−1. The paper also describes the kinematics of the fingers and demonstrates how they can be position-controlled at a range of different stiffness values.
Keywordsbiologically inspired robots variable stiffness actuation soft robotics soft grippers pneumatic muscles
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This work was supported by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Iraq.
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