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Research Papers

Foldable Joints for Foldable Robots

[+] Author and Article Information
Cynthia Sung

Computer Science and
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cambridge, MA 02139
e-mail: crsung@csail.mit.edu

Daniela Rus

Computer Science and
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cambridge, MA 02139
e-mail: rus@csail.mit.edu

Parts of this work were previously published in Ref. [21].

Manuscript received August 2, 2014; final manuscript received December 23, 2014; published online February 27, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Aaron M. Dollar.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 7(2), 021012 (May 01, 2015) (13 pages) Paper No: JMR-14-1193; doi: 10.1115/1.4029490 History: Received August 02, 2014; Revised December 23, 2014; Online February 27, 2015

Print-and-fold manufacturing has the potential to democratize access to robots with robots that are easier to fabricate using materials that are easier to procure. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding about how motion can be achieved by folding hinders the scope of print-and-fold robots. In this paper, we show how the basic joints used in robots can be constructed using print-and-fold. Our patterns are parameterized so that users not only get the desired degrees of freedom but can also specify the joint's range of motion. The joints can be combined with each other to achieve higher degrees of freedom or with rigid bodies to produce foldable linkages. We have folded our basic joints and measured their force–displacement curves. We have composed them into joints with higher degrees of freedom and into foldable mechanisms and found that they achieve the expected kinematics. We have also added actuators and control circuitry to our joints and mechanisms, showing that it is possible to print and fold entire robots with many different kinematics using a uniform process.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME
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References

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Previous foldable robots, joints indicated by arrows. They all use single-fold joints. (a) Hexapod [3], (b) gripper [4], and (c) hexapod [6].

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Fig. 2

Summary of fold patterns and folded states for three basic joint types with input parameters indicated. The base faces are shaded. (a) Hinge joint, (b) prismatic joint, and (c) pivot joint.

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Fig. 3

Prismatic joint construction

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Fig. 4

Motion of one layer of a pivot joint. Black lines have length 1.

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Fig. 5

Maximum elongation of folds in a pivot joint over the course of rotation

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Fig. 6

Pivot joint construction

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Fig. 7

Cross-sectional view of hinge joint with active folds labeled

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Fig. 8

(a) Diagram of two-layer prismatic joint with active folds labeled. (b) Simplified linkage diagram. (c) Free-body diagram for individual links in (b).

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Fig. 9

(a) Diagram of a single square linkage on a pivot joint. (b) Link Li. (c) Free-body diagram of link Li.

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Fig. 10

Joints folded from polyester film in two different positions. (a) Prismatic joint and (b) pivot joint.

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Fig. 11

Experimental setup used to measure holding torque of the hinge joints. (a) Experimental setup and (b) tested hinge joints.

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Fig. 12

Holding torque versus joint position for hinge joints folded from 0.051 mm thick polyester film, with joint ranges R=π/2,R=π, and R=3π/2. (a) R=π/2, (b) R = π, and (c) R=3π/2.

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Fig. 13

Holding torque versus joint position for hinge joints folded from 0.127 mm thick polyester film, with joint ranges R=π/2,R=π, and R=3π/2. (a) R=π/2, (b) R=π, and (c) R=3π/2.

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Fig. 14

Experimental setup used to measure holding force of prismatic joints. (a) Experimental setup and (b) close-up of joint.

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Fig. 15

Holding force versus joint position for prismatic joints folded from 0.051 mm thick polyester film, overlaid with curves fitted from the model. (a) Nc = 1, N = 2, (b) Nc = 2, N = 4, and (c) Nc = 4, N = 6.

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Fig. 16

Holding force versus joint position for prismatic joints folded from 0.127 mm thick polyester film, overlaid with curves fitted from the model. (a) Nc = 1, N = 2, (b) Nc = 2, N = 4, and (c) Nc = 4, N = 6.

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Fig. 17

Experimental setup used to measure holding torque of the pivot joints. (a) Experimental setup and (b) tested pivot joints.

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Fig. 18

Holding torque versus joint position for pivot joints folded from 0.051 mm thick polyester film, overlaid with curves fitted from the model. (a) N = 2, (b) N = 4, and (c) N = 6.

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Fig. 19

Holding torque versus joint position for pivot joints folded from 0.127 mm thick polyester film, overlaid with curves fitted from the model. (a) N = 2, (b) N = 4, and (c) N = 6.

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Fig. 20

Spherical joint composed from six-sided pivot and hinge joints. (a) Composed fold pattern (with tabs and slots) and (b) folded joint in two positions.

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Fig. 21

Foldable four-bar linkage. (a) Composed fold pattern and (b) movement of four-bar.

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Fig. 22

Foldable rowboat. (a) Composed fold pattern, (b) folded rowboat, and (c) section cut showing interior.

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Fig. 23

Hinge joint with integrated electronics

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Fig. 24

Actuated four-bar linkage atop actuated pivot mount

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Fig. 25

Smartphone mount attached to actuated spherical joint to allow pan and tilt

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