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Byungkook Oh, Young-Geun Park, Hwaebong Jung, Sangyoon Ji, Woon Hyung Cheong, Jinwoo Cheon, Wooyoung Lee*, and Jang-Ung Park*
Untethered Soft Robotics with Fully Integrated Wireless Sensing and Actuating Systems for Somatosensory and Respiratory Functions
Soft Robot., 7 (5), 564-573
Date: Oct 16, 2020

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.

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