Compared to their rigid counterparts, Soft Material Robotic Systems (SMR Systems) have advantages in human-robot collaboration, in picking tasks for objects with unknown geometry or irregular surface topology. Development of SMR Systems is a difficult task and up to now, there exists no generic methodology for a goal-oriented development of Soft Material Actuators and SMR Systems. Systematic synthesis of SMR Systems requires appropriate tools for modelling of the system’s behaviour. Classical modelling methods and tools from rigid robotic systems can no longer be used: Large elastic deformations of structural members and nonlinear material behaviour must be taken into account in modelling the statics and dynamics. Contact stiffness and structural stiffness can no longer be separated in modelling contact and friction. Currently, SMRs are mostly developed in a trial and error manner. Therefore, the aim of the proposal is to develop a universal modelling methodology for SMR Systems and to provide the necessary and missing tools, permitting an easy approach to the personalized development of SMR Systems.
The main result of our planned research will be methods and tools for obtaining reliable, real-time capable models of SMR Systems which can be used for overall system synthesis, motion planning, control design and model based optimization of SMR Systems. They will provide the basis for and enable future research and development of novel SMR Systems in medical, industrial and other application fields. We will, however, also demonstrate the application and experimental validation of these methods on a carefully chosen SMR.