Partners: SHARE and NTU School of Materials Science and Engineering
Prof. Shlomo Magdassi - Institute of Chemistry, Faculty of Life Sciences, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
Prof. Lee Pooi See - School of Materials Science and Engineering, NTU, Singapore
Smart Grippers for Soft Robotics is a new research program in the field of soft robotics that is based on a collaboration between The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with the participation of Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).
The main research and development in this program will be devoted towards fabrication of soft, smart grippers. Gripping and holding of objects are key tasks for robotic manipulators. Examples for the need of soft gripper include situations where very different objects need to be gripped reliably and in rapid succession. Another situation where such a gripper has a significant advantage over traditional designs is when a detailed shape or material properties of the target object are not known a priori, or when precise positioning is not feasible. This program we will focus on investigating and developing simultaneous gripping and sensing materials, based on principles of soft robotics. These smart materials will adapt and conform autonomously to the surface of the target object, while addressing the unmet needs in the field of soft robotics.
The program will be based on three main pillars of interconnected activities: Actuation, Sensing and Control.
To develop and realize soft grippers to perform complex tasks with a high degree of freedom, through new materials and fabrication mainly via Additive Manufacturing processes (2D/3D/4D printing).
Handling, manipulating, sorting of unstructured/fragile shaped objects for implementation in various fields according to selected use cases.
Research Plan and Impact
The program is linked to the Singapore ecosystem in this field, including implementation within industrial partners, to achieve significant scientific and industrial impact.
The scientific impact of the program stems from our tailor-made unprecedented soft materials with unique physicochemical properties to realize multi-modality stimuli responsive compliant grippers that are fabricated through additive manufacturing. Combined with the framework of modelling and adaptive non-linear control system, the dexterity and high degree of freedom of the soft grippers can be truly harnessed to perform complex tasks which have not been possible.
Soft robotics found promises as compliant grippers for handling fragile objects (e.g., fresh flower, uncooked egg, cultured meat piece) without damaging them. Singapore’s pushing needs for automation in manufacturing and service industries, and rejuvenation of agri-food related industries are becoming the impetus for the introduction of soft robotics. Innovations in these sectors are crucial in leapfrog transformation and improvement in productivity. For example, sensitive, highly dexterous and agile soft robots are required to harvest fresh produces, sort and packaging of products for transportation. Chemical and manufacturing sectors will benefit from the versatile and soft robot-human interfaces for delicate task handling, virtual training and efficient manoeuvrings. Soft grippers can also be used for recovery process at recycling facilities or waste management.