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Flexing into motion: A locomotion mechanism for soft robots


Several recent designs of soft robots feature locomotion mechanisms that entail orchestrating changes to intrinsic curvature to enable the robot's limbs to either stick, adhere, or slip on the robot's workspace. The resulting locomotion mechanism has several features in common with peristaltic locomotion that can be found in the animal world. The purpose of the present paper is to examine the feasibility of, and design guidelines for, a locomotion mechanism that exploits the control of intrinsic curvature on a rough surface. With the help of a quasi-static analysis of a continuous model of a soft robot's limb, we show precisely how locomotion is induced and how the performance can be enhanced by controlling the curvature profile. Our work provides a framework for the theoretical analysis of the locomotion of the soft robot and the resulting analysis is also used to develop some design guidelines.

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