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This research presents the design of a soft elbow exosuit capable of providing supplemental lifting assistance by reducing muscle activity of the bicep muscle. The aim is to improve the efficiency and endurance of workers who are tasked with repetitive lifting. The design consists of an array of pneumatically pressurized soft actuators, which are encased in nylon fabric that allows for a high force-to-weight ratio of 211.5 N/g.
We present the design and development of the fluid-driven, wearable, Soft Poly-Limb (SPL), from the Greek word polys, meaning many. The SPL utilizes the numerous traits of soft robotics to enable a novel approach in providing safe and compliant mobile manipulation assistance to healthy and impaired users. This wearable system equips the user with a controllable additional limb that is capable of complex three-dimensional motion in space.
This work presents the design and testing of a soft robot for water utility pipeline inspection. The preliminary findings of this new approach to conventional methods of pipe inspection demonstrate that a soft inflatable robot can successfully traverse the interior space of a range of diameter pipes without the need of adjusting mechanical components. The robot utilizes inflatable soft actuators with adjustable radius which, when pressurized, can mobilize the robot inside the pipe, or anchor it in place.
The human hand comprises complex sensorimotor functions that can be impaired by neurological diseases and traumatic injuries. Effective rehabilitation can bring the impaired hand back to a functional state because of the plasticity of the central nervous system to relearn and remodel the lost synapses in the brain. Current rehabilitation therapies focus on strengthening motor skills, such as grasping, employ multiple objects of varying stiffness so that affected persons can experience a wide range of strength training.
This work focuses on the design, development and evaluation of a soft-inflatable exosuit for knee rehabilitation. Soft-inflatable actuators made of heat-sealable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) materials are fabricated in beam-like structures of I cross-section and mechanically characterized for their torque performance in knee-extension assistance. The soft-inflatable actuators are integrated into a light-weight, low-cost and bodyconforming interface to assist the quadricep muscle groups during walking.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) affects roughly 3%-6% of the working population ages 18-64. This affliction is caused by applying stress on the median nerve that is routed through the carpal tunnel while it is at a positive or negative angle, greater than 15 degrees in either direction, to the human wrist. The median nerve can become inflamed and swollen due to pressure from the palmar carpal ligament causing numbness, stiffness and in some cases severe pain. Tasks like typing can become nearly impossible when the median nerve is inflamed.
This work presents a portable, soft robotic glove designed to augment hand rehabilitation and/or offer assistance to individuals with functional grasp pathologies. The robotic glove utilizes soft actuators consisting of molded elastomeric chambers with fiber reinforcements that induce specific bending, twisting and extending trajectories under fluid pressurization. These soft actuators were mechanically programmed to match and support the range of motion of individual fingers.
Closing small defects in the body typically requires stitching of tissues during surgery. Toward a minimally invasive approach, we engineered a balloon catheter with a reflective surface coating that could be used to adhere biodegradable patches to tissues. The device unfolds the patch and its adhesive, delivers ultraviolet (UV) light, and then applies pressure to stabilize the adhesive as the light cures the polymer.
This project presents a device designed to reduce muscular effort during downhill walking. The designed solution is a soft wearable exoskeleton consisting of an air spring, a wearable soft fabric interface that attaches the air spring to the user's body, and an integrated smart sensing and pneumatic control system. After prototyping of the device, initial evaluation was performed, showing that the device successfully produced a resistive torque of 5 Nm, decreasing torque on the knee by 10% for a 58 kg individual on a 20 degree slope.
Soft robots actuated by inflation of a pneumatic network (a “pneu-net”) of small channels in elastomeric materials are appealing for producing sophisticated motions with simple controls. Although current designs of pneu-nets achieve motion with large amplitudes, they do so relatively slowly (over seconds). This work presents a new design for pneu-nets that reduces the amount of gas needed for inflation of the pneu-net, and thus increases its speed of actuation.