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Research Papers

J. Mechanisms Robotics. 2017;9(4):041001-041001-10. doi:10.1115/1.4036221.

Unlike a traditional yeaechanism, where typically only the pose of the moving platform is of significance, a shape-morphing mechanism requires additional provisions. Mainly, any covers or skin panels that enclose the mechanism have to conform to additional constraints to avoid interference and clashing of said covers and achieve certain shapes during morphing. This paper presents a new method for kinematic modeling and analysis of such six degree-of-freedom (DOF) shape-morphing mechanisms enclosed by a number of rigid sliding panels. This type of mechanism has applications in aircraft morphing, where the shape of the enclosing skin is of significant importance in the design. Based on traditional parallel robot kinematics, the proposed method is developed to model the motions of multisegmented telescopic rigid panels that are attached via additional links to the base and platform of a driving mechanism. When the robot actuators are locked, each panel will have 3DOFs. The DOFs are utilized to satisfy constraints among adjacent panels, such as maintaining parallelism and minimal gap. Through this modeling and analysis, nonlinear formulations are adopted to optimize orientations of adjacent sliding panels during motion over the workspace of the mechanism. This method will help design a set of permissible panels used to enclose the mechanism while remaining free of collision. A number of cases are simulated to show the effectiveness of the proposed method. The effect of increased mobility is analyzed and validated as a potential solution to reduce panel collisions.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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