Abstract: Soft robots are becoming increasingly prevalent, with unique applications to medical devices and wearable technology. Understanding the dynamics of nonlinear soft actuators is crucial to creating controllable soft robots. this letter presents a system identification process and closed-loop control of foldable HASEL (hydraulically amplified self-healing electrostatic) soft actuators. We characterized foldable HASELs with linear frequency response tests and modeled them using a linear superposition of static and dynamic terms. We also identified two responses of the system: an activation and relaxation response. Based on these two responses, we developed a dual-mode controller which was validated through closed-loop control using a capacitive elastomeric strain sensor wrapped around the actuator. Using this integrated sensor, we achieved step response rise times as fast as 0.025 s and settling times as fast as 0.17 s while under load. These system identification and control techniques can be applied to any HASEL-driven soft robot and could be applied to other soft actuators to enable controllable soft robots.

Johnson, B.K., Sundaram, V., Naris, M., Acome, E., Ly, K., Correll, N., Keplinger, C.M., Humbert, J.S., Rentschler, M.E., “Identification and Control of a Nonlinear Soft Actuator and Sensor System,” IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), Yale University, April, 2020.

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