Design, Fabrication, and Performance Analysis of a Vertically Suspended Soft Manipulator
Mohamed Tahir Shoani*, Mohamed Najib Ribuan*,, and Ahmad Athif Mohd Faudzi**,***
*Faculty of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)
Parit Raja, Batu Pahat, Johor 86400, Malaysia
**School of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Skudai, Malaysia
***Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Soft continuum manipulators are comprised of flexible materials in a serpentine shape. Such manipulators can be controlled mechanically through tendons or pneumatic muscles. Continuum manipulators utilizing tendons are traditionally formed in a thick cross section, which presents limitations in achieving a high bending range as well as difficulties for storage and transportation. This study introduces a continuum manipulator comprised of two thin plastic bands and driven by a tendon to provide a bending action. The manipulator’s thin body form enables it to be rolled up for storage and transportation. Experimental results on different section lengths show the possibility of achieving a horizontal displacement of up to 34% of the bending-segment’s length, and a full closed-loop curvature for most segments. However, the results also indicated an elongation of the tip paths owing to gravity. These results, in addition to the manipulator’s flexibility and light weight features, confirm its suitability for applications in space and underwater environments.
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