There has been a great deal of interest in designing soft robots that can mimic a human system with haptic and proprioceptive functions. There is now a strong demand for soft robots that can sense their surroundings and functions in harsh environments. This is because the wireless sensing and actuating capabilities of these soft robots are very important for monitoring explosive gases in disaster areas and for moving through contaminated environments. To develop these wireless systems, complex electronic circuits must be integrated with various sensors and actuators. However, the conventional electronic circuits based on silicon are rigid and fragile, which can limit their reliable integration with soft robots for achieving continuous locomotion. In our study, we developed an untethered, soft robotic hand that mimics human fingers. The soft robotic fingers are composed of a thermally responsive elastomer composite that includes capsules of ethanol and liquid metals for its shape deformation through an electrothermal phase transition. And these soft actuators are integrated fully with flexible forms of heaters, with pressure, temperature, and hydrogen gas sensors, and wireless electronic circuits. Entire functions of this soft hand, including the gripping motion of soft robotic fingers and the real-time detections of tactile pressures, temperatures, and hydrogen gas concentrations, are monitored or controlled wirelessly using a smartphone. This wireless sensing and actuating system for somatosensory and respiratory functions of a soft robot provides a promising strategy for next-generation robotics.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) of Korea through the National Research Foundation (2019R1A2B5B03069358 and 2016R1A5A1009926), the Bio and Medical Technology Development Program (2018M3A9F1021649), the Nano Material Technology Development Program (2015M3A7B4050308 and 2016M3A7 B4910635), and the Industrial Technology Innovation Program (10080577). Also, the authors thank financial support by the Institute for Basic Science (IBS-R026-D1) and the Research Program (2018-22-0194) funded by Yonsei University. In addition, W.L. was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), and it was funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (NRF-2017M3A9F1052297) and the Commercialization Promotion Agency for R&D Outcomes (COMPA) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) (2019K000045).
© Copyright 2020, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 2020.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Control and Systems Engineering
- Artificial Intelligence