SMA-driven soft robotic neck: design, control and validation

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Replicating the behavior and movement of living organisms to develop robots which are better adapted to the human natural environment is a major area of interest today. Soft device development is one of the most promising and innovative technological fields to meet this challenge. However, soft technology lacks of suitable actuators, and therefore, development and integration of soft actuators is a priority. This article presents the development and control of a soft robotic neck which is actuated by a flexible Shape Memory Alloy (SMA)-based actuator. The proposed neck has two degrees of freedom that allow movements of inclination and orientation, thus approaching the actual movement of the human neck. The platform we have developed may be considered a real soft robotic device since, due to its flexible SMA-based actuator, it has much fewer rigid parts compared to similar platforms. Weight and motion noise have also been considerably reduced due to the lack of gear boxes, housing and bearings, which are commonly used in conventional actuators to reduce velocity and increase torque.
Bio-inspired neck, Soft robotics, SMA actuators, Motion-noise reduction
Bibliographic citation
Copaci, D., Muñoz, J., Gonzalez, I., Monje, C. A., & Moreno, L. (2020). SMA-Driven Soft Robotic Neck: design, control and validation. IEEE Access, 8, 199492-199502.