Sarina M. 2023 | BASIS Independent Silicon Valley
- Project Title: Comparing the Effect of Control Methodology on the Physical Properties of Soft and Hard Robotic Devices
- Basis Independent Advisor: Jon Noble
The emerging field of soft robotics, characterized by compliant materials and sensory-based feedback control, provides an avenue by which robots can adapt more dynamically to unpredictable situations and unknown environments. In contrast to more traditional, rigid robots that typically utilize electromagnetic actuators such as motors and servos as a method of control, a variety of ‘soft’ actuators have been developed for the field of soft robotics that are materials specifically able to deform in a controlled manner in response to external stimuli, such as heat, electric current, magnetic field, or fluid pressure. Most soft robotics research as of yet exists as a proof of concept for certain soft actuation methods, followed by preliminary, often very specific implementations and applications of that methodology. However, very little research has been conducted to generate one-to-one comparisons of different soft robotic actuation methods, or even one-to-one comparison of soft robotic control methodologies to traditional ‘hard’ robotic control methodologies. Through my project, I will design and construct several remotely-operated gripper devices that are identical in control capability but different in actuation and control methodology, and subsequently gather both qualitative and quantitative data within a controlled setting to compare the properties of these different methodologies in manipulating different materials. Soft robots have potential applications in healthcare and assistive technology, manipulation in remote environments, and environmental sensing; through my project, I hope to gain greater insight into how the physical properties of different control methodologies can help inform their application as the field of soft robotics advances.