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“Smart” materials are used for a broad range of application including electronics, bio-medical devices, and smart clothing. This work focuses on development of smart self-sealing and breathable protective gear for soldiers against Chemical Weapon Agents (CWA). Specifically, the response of chemo-mechanical swelling polymer modified meshes to contact with stimuli droplets was studied. Theoretical discussion of the mechanism of smart materials is followed by development and experimental analysis of different modified mesh designs. A multi-physics model is proposed based on experimental data and the prototype of the fabric is tested in aerosol impingement conditions to confirm the barrier formed by rapid-self-sealing feature of the design.
Basilisk lizards are often studied for their unique ability to run across the surface of
water. Due to the complicated fluid dynamics of this process, the forces applied on the
water’s surface cannot be measured using traditional methods. This thesis presents a
novel technique of measuring the forces using a fluid dynamic force platform (FDFP),
a light, rigid box immersed in water. This platform, along with a motion capture
system, can be used to characterize the kinematics and dynamics of a basilisk lizard
running on water. This could ultimately lead to robots that can run on water in a
The construction industry is very mundane and tiring for workers without the assistance of machines. This challenge has changed the trend of construction industry tremendously by motivating the development of robots that can replace human workers. This thesis presents a computed torque controller that is designed to produce movements by a small-scale, 5 degree-of-freedom (DOF) robotic arm that are useful for construction operations, specifically bricklaying. A software framework for the robotic arm with motion and path planning features and different control capabilities has also been developed using the Robot Operating System (ROS).
First, a literature review of bricklaying construction activity and existing robots’ performance is discussed. After describing an overview of the required robot structure, a mathematical model is presented for the 5-DOF robotic arm. A model-based computed torque controller is designed for the nonlinear dynamic robotic arm, taking into consideration the dynamic and kinematic properties of the arm. For sustainable growth of this technology so that it is affordable to the masses, it is important that the energy consumption by the robot is optimized. In this thesis, the trajectory of the robotic arm is optimized using sequential quadratic programming. The results of the energy optimization procedure are also analyzed for different possible trajectories.
A construction testbed setup is simulated in the ROS platform to validate the designed controllers and optimized robot trajectories on different experimental scenarios. A commercially available 5-DOF robotic arm is modeled in the ROS simulators Gazebo and Rviz. The path and motion planning is performed using the Moveit-ROS interface and also implemented on a physical small-scale robotic arm. A Matlab-ROS framework for execution of different controllers on the physical robot is described. Finally, the results of the controller simulation and experiments are discussed in detail.
Multiaxial mechanical fatigue of heterogeneous materials has been a significant cause of concern in the aerospace, civil and automobile industries for decades, limiting the service life of structural components while increasing time and costs associated with inspection and maintenance. Fiber reinforced composites and light-weight aluminum alloys are widely used in aerospace structures that require high specific strength and fatigue resistance. However, studying the fundamental crack growth behavior at the micro- and macroscale as a function of loading history is essential to accurately predict the residual fatigue life of components and achieve damage tolerant designs. The issue of mechanical fatigue can be tackled by developing reliable in-situ damage quantification methodologies and by comprehensively understanding fatigue damage mechanisms under a variety of complex loading conditions. Although a multitude of uniaxial fatigue loading studies have been conducted on light-weight metallic materials and composites, many service failures occur from components being subjected to variable amplitude, mixed-mode multiaxial fatigue loadings. In this research, a systematic approach is undertaken to address the issue of fatigue damage evolution in aerospace materials by:
(i) Comprehensive investigation of micro- and macroscale crack growth behavior in aerospace grade Al 7075 T651 alloy under complex biaxial fatigue loading conditions. The effects of variable amplitude biaxial loading on crack growth characteristics such as crack acceleration and retardation were studied in detail by exclusively analyzing the influence of individual mode-I, mixed-mode and mode-II overload and underload fatigue cycles in an otherwise constant amplitude mode-I baseline load spectrum. The micromechanisms governing crack growth behavior under the complex biaxial loading conditions were identified and correlated with the crack growth behavior and fracture surface morphology through quantitative fractography.
(ii) Development of novel multifunctional nanocomposite materials with improved fatigue resistance and in-situ fatigue damage detection and quantification capabilities. A state-of-the-art processing method was developed for producing sizable carbon nanotube (CNT) membranes for multifunctional composites. The CNT membranes were embedded in glass fiber laminates and in-situ strain sensing and damage quantification was achieved by exploiting the piezoresistive property of the CNT membrane. In addition, improved resistance to fatigue crack growth was observed due to the embedded CNT membrane.
Unmanned aerial vehicles have received increased attention in the last decade due to their versatility, as well as the availability of inexpensive sensors (e.g. GPS, IMU) for their navigation and control. Multirotor vehicles, specifically quadrotors, have formed a fast growing field in robotics, with the range of applications spanning from surveil- lance and reconnaissance to agriculture and large area mapping. Although in most applications single quadrotors are used, there is an increasing interest in architectures controlling multiple quadrotors executing a collaborative task. This thesis introduces a new concept of control involving more than one quadrotors, according to which two quadrotors can be physically coupled in mid-flight. This concept equips the quadro- tors with new capabilities, e.g. increased payload or pursuit and capturing of other quadrotors. A comprehensive simulation of the approach is built to simulate coupled quadrotors. The dynamics and modeling of the coupled system is presented together with a discussion regarding the coupling mechanism, impact modeling and additional considerations that have been investigated. Simulation results are presented for cases of static coupling as well as enemy quadrotor pursuit and capture, together with an analysis of control methodology and gain tuning. Practical implementations are introduced as results show the feasibility of this design.
It is well known that the geckos can cling to almost any surface using highly dense micro
ano fibrils found on the feet that rely on Van Der Waals forces to adhere. A few experimental and theoretical approaches have been taken to understand the adhesion mechanism of gecko feet. This work explains the building procedure of custom experimental setup to test the adhesion force over a temperature range and extends its application in space environment, potentially unsafe working condition.
This study demonstrates that these adhesive capable of switching adhesive properties not only at room environment but also over a temperature range of -160 degC to 120 degC in vacuum conditions. These conditions are similar to the condition experienced by a satellite in a space orbiting around the earth. Also, this study demonstrated various detachment and specimen patch preparation methods. The custom-made experimental setup for adhesion test can measure adhesion force in temperature and pressure controlled environment over specimen size of 1 sq. inch. A cryogenic cooling system with liquid nitrogen is used to achieve -160 degC and an electric resistive heating system are used to achieve 120 degC in controlled volume. Thermal electrodes, infrared thermopile detectors are used to record temperature at sample and pressure indicator to record vacuum condition in controlled volume. Reversibility of the switching behaviour of the specimen in controlled environment confirms its application in space and very high or very low-temperature conditions.
The experimental setup was developed using SolidWorks as a design tool, Ansys as simulation tool and the data acquisition utilizes LabVIEW available in the market today.
Human walking has been a highly studied topic in research communities because of its extreme importance to human functionality and mobility. A complex system of interconnected gait mechanisms in humans is responsible for generating robust and consistent walking motion over unpredictable ground and through challenging obstacles. One interesting aspect of human gait is the ability to adjust in order to accommodate varying surface grades. Typical approaches to investigating this gait function focus on incline and decline surface angles, but most experiments fail to address the effects of surface grades that cause ankle inversion and eversion. There have been several studies of ankle angle perturbation over wider ranges of grade orientations in static conditions; however, these studies do not account for effects during the gait cycle. Furthermore, contemporary studies on this topic neglect critical sources of unnatural stimulus in the design of investigative technology. It is hypothesized that the investigation of ankle angle perturbations in the frontal plane, particularly in the context of inter-leg coordination mechanisms, results in a more complete characterization of the effects of surface grade on human gait mechanisms. This greater understanding could potentially lead to significant applications in gait rehabilitation, especially for individuals who suffer from impairment as a result of stroke. A wearable pneumatic device was designed to impose inversion and eversion perturbations on the ankle through simulated surface grade changes. This prototype device was fabricated, characterized, and tested in order to assess its effectiveness. After testing and characterizing this device, it was used in a series of experiments on human subjects while data was gathered on muscular activation and gait kinematics. The results of the characterization show success in imposing inversion and eversion angle perturbations of approximately 9° with a response time of 0.5 s. Preliminary experiments focusing on inter-leg coordination with healthy human subjects show that one-sided inversion and eversion perturbations have virtually no effect on gait kinematics. However, changes in muscular activation from one-sided perturbations show statistical significance in key lower limb muscles. Thus, the prototype device demonstrates novelty in the context of human gait research for potential applications in rehabilitation.
The world population is aging. Age-related disorders such as stroke and spinal cord injury are increasing rapidly, and such patients often suffer from mobility impairment. Wearable robotic exoskeletons are developed that serve as rehabilitation devices for these patients. In this thesis, a knee exoskeleton design with higher torque output compared to the first version, is designed and fabricated.
A series elastic actuator is one of the many actuation mechanisms employed in exoskeletons. In this mechanism a torsion spring is used between the actuator and human joint. It serves as torque sensor and energy buffer, making it compact and
A version of knee exoskeleton was developed using the SEA mechanism. It uses worm gear and spur gear combination to amplify the assistive torque generated from the DC motor. It weighs 1.57 kg and provides a maximum assistive torque of 11.26 N·m. It can be used as a rehabilitation device for patients affected with knee joint impairment.
A new version of exoskeleton design is proposed as an improvement over the first version. It consists of components such as brushless DC motor and planetary gear that are selected to meet the design requirements and biomechanical considerations. All the other components such as bevel gear and torsion spring are selected to be compatible with the exoskeleton. The frame of the exoskeleton is modeled in SolidWorks to be modular and easy to assemble. It is fabricated using sheet metal aluminum. It is designed to provide a maximum assistive torque of 23 N·m, two times over the present exoskeleton. A simple brace is 3D printed, making it easy to wear and use. It weighs 2.4 kg.
The exoskeleton is equipped with encoders that are used to measure spring deflection and motor angle. They act as sensors for precise control of the exoskeleton.
An impedance-based control is implemented using NI MyRIO, a FPGA based controller. The motor is controlled using a motor driver and powered using an external battery source. The bench tests and walking tests are presented. The new version of exoskeleton is compared with first version and state of the art devices.
Wearable robotics has gained huge popularity in recent years due to its wide applications in rehabilitation, military, and industrial fields. The weakness of the skeletal muscles in the aging population and neurological injuries such as stroke and spinal cord injuries seriously limit the abilities of these individuals to perform daily activities. Therefore, there is an increasing attention in the development of wearable robots to assist the elderly and patients with disabilities for motion assistance and rehabilitation. In military and industrial sectors, wearable robots can increase the productivity of workers and soldiers. It is important for the wearable robots to maintain smooth interaction with the user while evolving in complex environments with minimum effort from the user. Therefore, the recognition of the user's activities such as walking or jogging in real time becomes essential to provide appropriate assistance based on the activity.
This dissertation proposes two real-time human activity recognition algorithms intelligent fuzzy inference (IFI) algorithm and Amplitude omega ($A \omega$) algorithm to identify the human activities, i.e., stationary and locomotion activities. The IFI algorithm uses knee angle and ground contact forces (GCFs) measurements from four inertial measurement units (IMUs) and a pair of smart shoes. Whereas, the $A \omega$ algorithm is based on thigh angle measurements from a single IMU.
This dissertation also attempts to address the problem of online tuning of virtual impedance for an assistive robot based on real-time gait and activity measurement data to personalize the assistance for different users. An automatic impedance tuning (AIT) approach is presented for a knee assistive device (KAD) in which the IFI algorithm is used for real-time activity measurements. This dissertation also proposes an adaptive oscillator method known as amplitude omega adaptive oscillator ($A\omega AO$) method for HeSA (hip exoskeleton for superior augmentation) to provide bilateral hip assistance during human locomotion activities. The $A \omega$ algorithm is integrated into the adaptive oscillator method to make the approach robust for different locomotion activities. Experiments are performed on healthy subjects to validate the efficacy of the human activities recognition algorithms and control strategies proposed in this dissertation. Both the activity recognition algorithms exhibited higher classification accuracy with less update time. The results of AIT demonstrated that the KAD assistive torque was smoother and EMG signal of Vastus Medialis is reduced, compared to constant impedance and finite state machine approaches. The $A\omega AO$ method showed real-time learning of the locomotion activities signals for three healthy subjects while wearing HeSA. To understand the influence of the assistive devices on the inherent dynamic gait stability of the human, stability analysis is performed. For this, the stability metrics derived from dynamical systems theory are used to evaluate unilateral knee assistance applied to the healthy participants.
It has been found that certain biological organisms, such as Erodium seeds and Scincus scincus, are capable of effectively and efficiently burying themselves in soil. Biological Organisms employ various locomotion modes, including coiling and uncoiling motions, asymmetric body twisting, and undulating movements that generate motion waves. The coiling-uncoiling motion drives a seed awn to bury itself like a corkscrew, while sandfish skinks use undulatory swimming, which can be thought of as a 2D version of helical motion. Studying burrowing behavior aims to understand how animals navigate underground, whether in their natural burrows or underground habitats, and to implement this knowledge in solving geotechnical penetration problems. Underground horizontal burrowing is challenging due to overcoming the resistance of interaction forces of granular media to move forward. Inspired by the burrowing behavior of seed-awn and sandfish skink, a horizontal self-burrowing robot is developed. The robot is driven by two augers and stabilized by a fin structure. The robot’s burrowing behavior is studied in a laboratory setting. It is found that rotation and propulsive motion along the axis of the auger’s helical shape significantly reduce granular media’s resistance against horizontal penetration by breaking kinematic symmetry or granular media boundary. Additional thrusting and dragging tests were performed to examine the propulsive and resistive forces and unify the observed burrowing behaviors. The tests revealed that the rotation of an auger not only reduces the resistive force and generates a propulsive force, which is influenced by the auger geometry, rotational speed, and direction. As a result, the burrowing behavior of the robot can be predicted using the geometry-rotation-force relations.