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- All Subjects: Mechanical Engineering
The traditional understanding of robotics includes mechanisms of rigid structures, which can manipulate surrounding objects, taking advantage of mechanical actuators such as motors and servomechanisms. Although these methods provide the underlying fundamental concepts behind much of modern technological infrastructure, in fields such as manufacturing, automation, and biomedical application, the robotic structures formed by rigid axels on mechanical actuators lack the delicate differential sensors and actuators associated with known biological systems. The rigid structures of traditional robotics also inhibit the use of simple mechanisms in congested and/or fragile environments. By observing a variety of biological systems, it is shown that nature models its structures over millions of years of evolution into a combination of soft structures and rigid skeletal interior supports. Through technological bio-inspired designs, researchers hope to mimic some of the complex behaviors of biological mechanisms using pneumatic actuators coupled with highly compliant materials that exhibit relatively large reversible elastic strain. This paper begins the brief history of soft robotics, the various classifications of pneumatic fluid systems, the associated difficulties that arise with the unpredictable nature of fluid reactions, the methods of pneumatic actuators in use today, the current industrial applications of soft robotics, and focuses in large on the construction of a universally adaptable soft robotic gripper and material application tool. The central objective of this experiment is to compatibly pair traditional rigid robotics with the emerging technologies of sort robotic actuators. This will be done by combining a traditional rigid robotic arm with a soft robotic manipulator bladder for the purposes of object manipulation and excavation of extreme environments.