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In Soft robotics

Recent advances in soft robotics demonstrate the requirement of modular actuation to enable the rapid replacement of actuators for maintenance and functionality extension. There remain challenges to designing soft actuators capable of different motions with a consistent appearance for simplifying fabrication and modular connection. Origami structures reshaping along with their unique creases became a powerful tool to provide compact constraint layers for soft pneumatic actuators. Inspired by Waterbomb and Kresling origami, this article presents three types of vacuum-driven soft actuators with a cubic shape and different origami skins, featuring contraction, bending, and twisting-contraction combined motions, respectively. In addition, these modular actuators with diversified motion patterns can be directly fabricated by molding silicone shell and constraint layers together. Actuators with different geometrical parameters are characterized to optimize the structure and maximize output properties after establishing a theoretical model to predict the deformation. Owing to the shape consistency, our actuators can be further modularized to achieve modular actuation via mortise and tenon-based structures, promoting the possibility and efficiency of module connection for versatile tasks. Eventually, several types of modular soft robots are created to achieve fragile object manipulation and locomotion in various environments to show their potential applications.

Jin Tao, Wang Tianhong, Xiong Quan, Tian Yingzhong, Li Long, Zhang Quan, Yeow Chen-Hua


modular actuation, modular soft robot, origami, soft pneumatic actuators