Modeling and Analysis of a Novel Pneumatic Artificial Muscle and Pneumatic Arm Exoskeleton
Yang, Hee Doo
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The soft robotics field is developing rapidly and is poised to have a wide impact in a variety of applications. Soft robots have intrinsic compliance, offering a number of benefits as compared to traditional rigid robots. Compliance can provide compatibility with biological systems such as the human body and can provide some benefits for human safety and control. Further research into soft robots can be advanced by further development of pneumatic actuators. Pneumatic actuators are a good fit for exoskeleton robots because of their light weight, small size, and flexible materials. This is because a wearable robot should be human friendly, therefore, it should be light weight, slim, powerful, and simple. In this paper, a novel pneumatic artificial muscle using soft materials including integrated electronics for wearable exoskeletons is proposed. We describe the design, fabrication, and evaluation of the actuator, as well as the manufacturing process used to create it. Compared to traditional pneumatic muscle actuators such as the McKibben actuator and new soft actuators that were recently proposed, the novel actuator overcomes shortcomings of prior work. This is due to the actuator's very high contraction ratio that can be controlled by the manufacturing process. In this paper, we describe the design, fabrication, and evaluation of a novel pneumatic actuator that can accommodate integrated electronics for displacement and pressure measurements used for data analysis and control. The desired performance characteristics for the actuator were 100 ~ 400N at between 35kPa and 105kPa, and upon testing we found almost 120 ~ 300N which confirms that these actuators may be suitable in soft exoskeleton applications with power requirements comparable to rigid exoskeletons. Furthermore, a novel soft pneumatic elbow exoskeleton based on the pneumatic actuator concept and manufacturing process is presented. Each structure is designed and manufactured with all fabric. The distally-worn structure is only 300g, which is light weight for an arm exoskeleton, and the design is simple, leading to a low materials cost.
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