Passive Particle Jamming and Its Stiffening of Soft Robotic Grippers


Y. Li, Y. Chen, Y. Yang, and Y. Wei, “Passive Particle Jamming and Its Stiffening of Soft Robotic Grippers,” IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 33, no. 2, 2017.


The compliance of soft grippers contributes to their great superiority over rigid grippers in grasping irregularly shaped objects and forming soft contact with environments. Due to a relatively small pressure, soft grippers lack the stiffness required for wider applications. Particle jamming has been frequently reported as a means of stiffness control. Unlike previous research using vacuum for particle jamming, this paper proposes a novel passive particle jamming principle that does not need any vacuum power or other control means. The proposed method is by simply patching a silicone rubber soft actuator and a pack (made of strain-limiting membrane) of particles to form an integral gripping finger. The inflation of the soft actuator applies a pressure to the particle pack causing particles inside it to jam. A larger squeezing pressure will result in tighter particle jamming, thus increasing the stiffness of the finger. The stiffness of the finger is controllable as it is proportional to the actuator's air pressure, which has been verified by experiments in this research. The stiffness can increase more than six fold when air pressure changes from 20 to 80 kPa in the experimental studies. The reported discovery may enhance the capabilities of soft robotic grippers so that more robotic picking operations could be performed by soft grippers.

Last updated on 09/25/2017