DARPA YFA: CEPHALOPODS-INSPIRED SELF-MORPHING STRETCHABLE SOFT SKIN (S4) FROM TWISTED AND COILED ARTIFICIAL MUSCLES (TCAMS)

C. Lamuta
University of Iowa - Mechanical Engineering - SMMS Lab, Iowa, United States

Poster stand number: T131

Keywords: artificial muscles, cephalopods-inspired, muscular hydrostats, soft robots, underwater robots

This project is focused on the development of thin Self-morphing Stretchable Soft Skins (S4) consisting of Twisted and Coiled Artificial Muscles (TCAMs) embedded into an elastomer matrix. S4 can perform tensile, compression, bending, and torsion actuation and are used to develop thin-walled muscular hydrostats for maritime soft robots. The TCAMs I developed can overcome all the limitations of current actuators and smart materials in terms of size, weight, and power (SWAP). They can lift up to 12,600 times their own weight with an extremely low electrical input (only 0.02 V/mm), eliminating the need for heavy and noisy power sources. Moreover, contrary to multi-component conventional actuators, TCAMs can replicate the biomechanical performance and active/passive force profile of biological muscles within one single, compact, and flexible component, paving the way for the development of truly bioinspired devices. The S4 design takes inspiration from cephalopods’ tentacles, characterized by thin layers of muscles, arranged along different directions. Results on the design, modeling, manufacturing, testing, and control of different types of S4 will be presented in this poster.