Design Innovation Papers

Design of a Novel Long-Range Inflatable Robotic Arm: Manufacturing and Numerical Evaluation of the Joints and Actuation

[+] Author and Article Information
Sébastien Voisembert

AMPT Paris 75013, France
e-mail: sebastien.voisembert@hotmail.fr

Nazih Mechbal

AMPT Paris 75013, France
e-mail: Nazih.Mechbal@ensam.eu

Alain Riwan

Fontenay aux Roses F-92265, France
e-mail: alain.riwan@cea.fr

Ameziane Aoussat

AMPT Paris 75013, France
e-mail: Ameziane.AOUSSAT@ensam.eu

Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANISMS AND ROBOTICS. Manuscript received August 13, 2012; final manuscript received May 19, 2013; published online October 1, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Philippe Wenger.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 5(4), 045001 (Oct 01, 2013) (9 pages) Paper No: JMR-12-1119; doi: 10.1115/1.4025025 History: Received August 13, 2012; Revised May 19, 2013

The aim of this paper is to present the design of a new long-range robotic arm based on an inflatable structure. Inflatable robotics has potential for improved large payload-to-weight ratios, safe collision, and inspection in areas inaccessible to human beings as in nuclear plants. The robot presented here is intended to operate inspection or maintenance missions in critical installation taking care to not collide with its environment. It is made with innovative inflatable joints and an original actuation system. Prototypes of this inflatable manipulator were constructed using two different manufacturing procedures. Using ls-dyna nonlinear dynamic finite element modeling we have numerically analyzed the specific geometry and dynamical behavior of the resulting joints. The simulations have given insight into understanding the joint bending process and have revealed guidance for optimizing the conception.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
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Fig. 1

AIA robot into a full vessel demonstrator (scale 1) [7]

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Fig. 2

Influence of the thickness ratio on the deflections of a cantilever beam submitted to its own weight

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Fig. 3

Spacesuit joints are composed of bellows

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Fig. 4

Finite element model of two links and one central joint

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Fig. 5

Snapshots of the inflation simulation

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Fig. 9

Stop-pin principle (a). Joint middle line shortened with stop-pins (b). Joint with stop-pins and screws (c). Two axis prototype made with a PVC coated Polyester fabric (d).

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Fig. 8

Sanan's robot arm (a) and a simulated model (b). Our prototype with a space-suit like inflatable joint (c) and a simulated model (d).

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Fig. 7

Ideal shape of an inflatable joint

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Fig. 13

Significant responses of stop-pin based joints to a full bending cycle in simulation

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Fig. 6

End point deflections calculated with the FE model and compared with experimental values

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Fig. 10

Fabric wrap between two stop-pins

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Fig. 11

Folding of a simulated stop-pin

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Fig. 12

Von Mises stress (MPa) for a 9.2 mm stop-pin joint

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Fig. 14

Tensions applied on the middle line

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Fig. 15

Middle line of a joint with a loosen wire (a). Prototype with two wire-based joints (b). Shortening of the middle line of the joint (c). Simulated shortening of the middle line thanks to muscle elements (d).

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Fig. 18

Comparative evaluation of stop-pin and wire-based joint performances

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Fig. 19

Friction impact on the maximum pitch angle

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Fig. 20

Flat folds (a). Folds generated by stop-pins (b). Folds generated by the wire (c).

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Fig. 16

Von Mises stress (MPa) in the wire-based joint

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Fig. 17

Significant responses of stop-pin and wire-based joints to a half bending cycle in simulation

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Fig. 21

Inflatable joint affected by an exterior force

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Fig. 22

Pulley block system forcing the joint to keep a toroïdal shape

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Fig. 23

Simulated joints submitted to dislocations and pulley blocks systems

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Fig. 24

Relative dislocation with different loads and number of pulley blocks



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