Development of Soft Modular Robotics


Regarding the assistance for motion of the subjects, there is a growing interest in using robotic devices to deliver effective assistance during the intensive and repetitive therapies.

However, no such system has been demonstrated so far in practice, largely due to lack of the hardware solutions able to generate sufficient forces yet producing compliant interaction with a human (“soft-ware”), as well as nonexistence of appropriate control laws to drive such robotic devices.

To produce the compliant interaction, we aim at implementation of ‘structural transparency’ whose concept is such that the mass of the robotic arm is so small that patients performing spontaneous motion do not feel the inertia of the robotic arm, but can have a compliant assistance at right moments to complete intended motion. Since soft material is employed to produce modules, the soft robotic arm is EEG/fMRI compatible, making it an ideal solution for BCI guided robotic arm for neurorehabiliation.

The project will develop a soft modular robotic arm in which the soft wedge-like cellular inflatable units can be assembled to form a worm like assistive arm. The wedge angle distribution along the arm will generate the optimal trajectory supporting the patient arm movement and the elastic modulus control in each cell contribute to the compliant motion. The project will also develop a novel control law integrating a set of sensory information.

Project Research Group

Dr. Yoshikatsu Hayashi

Lecturer of Robotics, University of Reading

Prof. Slawomir Nasuto

Professor of Cybernetics, University of Reading

Prof. Sadao Kawamura

Professor of Robotics, Ritsumeikan University

Victoria W. Oguntosin

PhD Student, University of Reading

Hopkins Matthew

MSc, Student, University of Reading

Funding Body