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Linear Actuator Robots

 We are working to develop a class of robotic systems composed of high elongation linear actuators connected at universal joints.  The large number of actuators allows the robot to dramatically change its shape, allowing it to locomote, represent 3D information, manipulate objects, or fulfill other roles. 

 

In [1] we derive the  differential kinematics of such robots, and formalize concepts of controllability based on graph rigidity.  Control methods are then developed for two separate applications: locomotion and shape morphing. The control algorithm in both cases solves a series of linearly constrained quadratic programs at each time step to minimize an objective function while ensuring physical feasibility. We present simulation results for both locomotion along a prescribed path, and morphing to a target shape.

 

 

In [2] we present the Pneumatic Reel Actuator, a soft actuator with high elongtation that enables linear actuator robots to have increased capabilities. 

 

[1] N. Usevitch, Z. Hammond, S. Follmer, M. Schwager. Linear Actuator Robots: Differential Kinematics, Controllability, and Algorithms for Locomotion and Shape Morphing. In IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2017.

[2]  Z. Hammond, N. Usevitch, E. Hawkes, S. Follmer. Pneumatic Reel Actuator: Design, modeling, and implementation. In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2017.