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Technical Brief

J. Mechanisms Robotics. 2017;10(1):014501-014501-6. doi:10.1115/1.4038220.

In this work, we present a closed-form model, which describes the kinematics of fiber-reinforced elastomeric enclosures (FREEs). A FREE actuator consists of a thin elastomeric tube surrounded by reinforcing helical fibers. Previous models for the motion of FREEs have relied on the successive compositions of “instantaneous” kinematics or complex elastomer models. The model presented in this work classifies each FREE by the ratio of the length of its fibers. This ratio defines the behavior of the FREE regardless of the other parameters. With this ratio defined, the kinematic state of the FREE can then be completely described by one of the fiber angles. The simple, analytic nature of the model presented in this work facilitates the understanding and design of FREE actuators. We demonstrate the application of this model in an actuator design case study.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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