Soft Actuators and Soft Robots
Dr. Jian Zhu
Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore
—All Welcome —
Robots have been proposed to relieve human beings from dangerous environments or tedious manufacturing processes, or mimic human beings or animals in appearance, behaviour, and/or cognition. Most of traditional robots use hard materials. Inspired by natural creatures, researchers have recently become more and more interested in soft robots, which are made of soft materials, say polymers.
To exploit animal-like locomotion and behaviour, it is essential to develop muscle-like actuators with properties close to biological systems. In my group, we employ dielectric elastomers - one class of soft active materials - as artificial muscles to investigate bio-inspired robots. A dielectric elastomer actuator can deform in response to voltage, and can exhibit unique attributes, including large voltage-induced deformation, fast response, low weight, quiet operation, etc.
In this seminar I will discuss several soft bio-inspired robots which are developed based on dielectric elastomer actuators, such as a jellyfish robot, artificial muscles for facial expressions, an inchworm-like robot, etc. I will also illustrate soft robots using smart actuators, including a soft active origami robot.
Dr. Jian Zhu is an assistant professor at the department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore. Before moving to Singapore, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, USA. He received a Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering at University of Alberta, Canada in 2008, and was then awarded a NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada in 2008. His current research interests lie in soft robots, soft active materials, and smart materials and structures.