Welcome to the site for the SCRAM consortium.
This project envisions a new class of soft robotics technology that will enable new multi-functional soft robots with reconfigurable actuation and shapes. The key to the proposed technology is the ability to change the mechanical properties of a thin-walled structure by changing its local curvature. For example, curving a flat sheet of paper along one direction greatly increases its stiffness in the other two directions. Exploiting the coupling between curvature and mechanical behavior in planar materials will enable the design, modeling, and control of reconfigurable soft robots. This can be used to realize robot arms with joints that can be created and configured at will to match desired task dynamics and constraint geometries. Soft robotics technology has the potential to transform the way our society utilizes and interacts with robots, because soft robots are inherently safe for interaction with humans. This project promotes the progress of science by advancing understanding of how to utilize materials and geometry to create active, assistive, robotic devices. Furthermore, the topics of this proposal are uniquely suited to outreach activities for K-12 students. Parallel outreach activities will be run across the collaborating sites to maximally inform the public and the nation?s youth about this new type of soft robot.
This project will develop modeling, control, and design methods for a new class of robots formed from soft planar materials and called Soft Curved Reconfigurable Anisotropic Mechanisms (SCRAMs). These robots will be manufactured through planar fabrication methods (sewing, lamination, and 3D printing) and local, embedded actuators and sensors to realize soft, curved, reconfigurable, anisotropic mechanisms for reconfigurable joints with controllable curvature. The collaborative research plan features the following tasks: 1) identify geometric and manufacturing representations that can unify element design & will enable modeling, system simulation, and control, 2) establish and study canonical soft continuum elements, sensors, and actuators using experimental techniques and finite element modeling to understand SCRAM mechanics and dynamics towards a library of modular elements for building soft continuum systems. The project will 3) formulate new modeling, simulation, and geometric control methods for optimal control of SCRAM robots in multi-modal environments, 4) which will be validated on two SCRAM platforms to study issues in manipulation and locomotion as well as to demonstrate the potential of SCRAM-based soft-robots.