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A biomimetic fish fin-like robot based on textile reinforced silicone

: Pfeil, Sascha; Katzer, Konrad; Kanan, Anas; Mersch, Johannes; Zimmermann, Martina; Kaliske, Michael; Gerlach, Gerald

Fulltext ()

Micromachines 11 (2020), No.3, Art. 298, 16 pp.
ISSN: 2072-666X
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IWS ()
biomimetics; bending structures; textile-elastomer compounds; fish fin robot; soft robotics; textile reinforcement; elastomer actuators; dielectric

The concept of merging pre-processed textile materials with tailored mechanical properties into soft matrices is so far rarely used in the field of soft robotics. The herein presented work takes the advantages of textile materials in elastomer matrices to another level by integrating a material with highly anisotropic bending properties. A pre-fabricated textile material consisting of oriented carbon fibers is used as a stiff component to precisely control the mechanical behavior of the robotic setup. The presented robotic concept uses a multi-layer stack for the robot’s body and dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) on both outer sides of it. The bending motion of the whole structure results from the combination of its mechanically adjusted properties and the force generation of the DEAs. We present an antagonistic switching setup for the DEAs that leads to deflections to both sides of the robot, following a biomimetic principle. To investigate the bending behavior of the robot, we show a simulation model utilizing electromechanical coupling to estimate the quasi-static deflection of the structure. Based on this model, a statement about the bending behavior of the structure in general is made, leading to an expected maximum deflection of 10 mm at the end of the fin for a static activation. Furthermore, we present an electromechanical network model to evaluate the frequency dependent behavior of the robot’s movement, predicting a resonance frequency of 6.385 Hz for the dynamic switching case. Both models in combination lead to a prediction about the acting behavior of the robot. These theoretical predictions are underpinned by dynamic performance measurements in air for different switching frequencies of the DEAs, leading to a maximum deflection of 9.3 mm located at the end of the actuators. The herein presented work places special focus on the mechanical resonance frequency of the robotic setup with regard to maximum deflections.