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Sophie Bae

Finite Element Analysis, Representation, and Interpretation of Soft Robotics Kinematics and Dynamics



Sophie Bae ’23



Faculty Mentor(s):

Keith, Buffinton, Mechanical Engineering

Funding Source:

James L.D. and Rebecca Roser Research Fund


Rapid progress has been made in recent years to improve the accuracy, precision, and intelligence of robots as humans seek to use them to make their lives more comfortable and convenient. Robots are increasingly incorporated into our daily lives, as well as into industry and manufacturing, causing the market demand for them to grow. Despite the number of tasks robots can successfully perform, traditional rigid robots nonetheless have the potential to cause harm to humans and their immediate environment, creating safety concerns. These risks have led to the development of a relatively new field of robotics in which soft materials are employed to limit the possibility of damage and injury. Unlike rigid robots, soft robots have more degrees of freedom and the ability to adapt to their environments, allowing for a wider range of motion and tasks they can undertake. Unfortunately, analyzing the motion and the ability to apply forces of soft robots is challenging, primarily due to their nonlinear behavior and properties. For this project, we used finite element modeling techniques to explore the
practicability of two types of soft robotic actuators: Fiber-Reinforced Elastomeric Enclosures
(FREEs) and McKibben actuators. A comparison of experimental and finite element results confirmed the accuracy of the model and allowed the workspace achieved with a module comprised of multiple FREEs to be studied. Furthermore, we were able to establish a more effective soft robotic design by considering the role of each system parameter, maximizing the range of displacement and rotation of the actuators.


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