January 3, 2021

SOFT ROBOTICS

Frontier Research Overview

How can we develop soft body and brain for intelligent motions and soft interactions?

To address this challenge, we investigate the effect of soft material on control, learning, and adaptation by introducing soft material into the rigid robot body or replacing the rigid parts with soft material. We also aim to identify the balance between the rigidness and softness of robot bodies for robust and versatile behaviors.


2021

VENOM: Versatile, Adhesive, and Soft Material for Various Surface Adhesion

We propose for the first time a versatile, adhesive, and soft material for various surface adhesion (VENOM). It has been developed based on a mixture of super-soft, fast cure platinum-catalyzed silicone (Ecoflex 00-10) and iron powder. Through our empirical investigation, we realized that VENOM with iron powder in the amount of 30% by weight of silicone produced the highest dynamic friction and normal adhesion forces compared to other ratios. We compared the performance of VENOM with other soft (sticky) materials (e.g., other silicone types and non-directional gecko-inspired material) on smooth and rough surfaces. Our experimental results show that VENOM overall has an excellent performance. It has the highest dynamic friction and adhesion forces on both surfaces, except in the case of smooth surfaces where the gecko-inspired material has the highest normal adhesion force. Although the adhesion force of VENOM on smooth surfaces is lower than the gecko-inspired material, several tests show that it has a lower variance. This suggests that VENOM has better repeatable adhesive performance and durability. We believe that this simple, low-cost, dry adhesive material will be beneficial in many aspects of (soft) robotics as well as climbing robot development.

For more details, see Suthisomboon et al., RoboSoft, 2021.

A video link of the VENOM experiments