Fluid mediated soft actuators, Trevor J. Jones, G5 (3959899)
In our world filled with human innovation and technology we hardly scratch the surface of what has been formed in nature. While we have increased our control and capabilities of machines, the use of soft structures to accomplish complex tasks is still primarily the handiwork of biology. To bridge the gap on nature, we introduce an all-in-one approach to building soft robotics using the powerful rules and tools of fluid mechanics. Here we use an elongated bubble to deposit a liquid silicone polymer on the sides of a channel. The concomitant gravitational drainage creates a cross-sectional shape that is "frozen" as the polymer cures into a solid silicone rubber. When inflated these soft actuators bend owing to the asymmetry of the structure. The shape-morphing is captured with a center-line model of the actuator. By leveraging the fluid mechanics during fabrication and the non-linear mechanics during inflation we program soft machines that produce a prescribed motion. In particular, we use our novel fabrication technique to produce soft machines that can grip, produce large strokes and forces, and program sequential motions using a single pneumatic input.