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ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics

    A Virtual Work Model for the Design and Parameter Identification of Cylindrical Pressure-Driven Soft Actuators


    In this paper, we derive a model based on the principle of virtual work to describe the deformations of cylindrical pressure-driven soft actuators with four types of fiber reinforcement and with externally applied forces. Such cylindrical actuators are often used as the basis for multi-chamber soft robotic systems, for example, bending actuators. In the virtual work model, each type of reinforcement leads to particular geometric constraints; the energy of the stretched material is determined by the Yeoh material model. Finally, the stretch of the actuator is solved numerically by a minimization problem. The virtual work model yielded only little deviations of the predicted stretch relative to finite element simulations in abaqus. The key contribution of the virtual work model is improved parameter identification for the modeling of cylindrical soft actuators, as it illustrates the possibility to distinguish between material-dependent behavior and geometry-dependent behavior of these actuators. Also, the virtual work model is applicable in the design process of the investigated actuators. We demonstrate that an optimization of the actuator’s inner and outer radii and of its fiber angle, respectively, is possible and we derive design rules including criteria for the choice of fiber reinforcement.

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