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HASEL Artificial Muscles for Human-Scale Robotics

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Army
Contract: W911NF-21-P-0040
Agency Tracking Number: A20B-T007-0075
Amount: $166,500.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: A20B-T007
Solicitation Number: 20.B
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2020-12-04
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-06-03
Small Business Information
3380 34th st Unit c
Boulder, CO 80301-1950
United States
DUNS: 116915474
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Timothy Morrissey
 (315) 867-7773
Business Contact
 Timothy Morrissey
Phone: (315) 867-7773
Research Institution
 The Regents of the University of Colorado
 Denitta Ward
3100 Marine Street
Boulder, CO 80309-0001
United States

 (303) 735-6624
 Nonprofit College or University

While robotic systems have advanced in recent years, they are still dramatically outperformed by their biological counterparts. Robots are largely limited by the use of decades-old actuation paradigms such as electromagnetic motors which are bulky, rigid, and expensive, thus limiting the complexity and degrees of freedom of such systems and making close interactions with humans unsafe (such as in collaborative environments). The realization of versatile, highly-maneuverable robots will rely on next-generation actuators that are scalable, tunable, and highly efficient. These high-performance actuators will need to be tightly-integrated with sensory feedback and control systems to demonstrate robots with a high number of degrees-of-freedom that can safely interact with their environment. Recently-introduced Hydraulically Amplified Self-healing ELectrostatic (HASEL) actuators are a new class of soft, muscle-mimetic actuators that combine electrostatic and hydraulic operation to produce an electrically-powered actuator that is fast, strong, and efficient. Further, these actuators can be rapidly produced in a variety of designs using an inexpensive and industrially-amenable fabrication process. Implementing HASEL actuators into robotic systems now requires the development of novel distributed feedback and control architectures.   In this Phase 1 proposal, Artimus Robotics will build on promising research developments around HASEL actuators including actuator fabrication, dynamic modeling, capacitive self-sensing, and closed-loop feedback strategies to introduce prototype robotic systems. These efforts will focus on the inherent muscle-like properties of HASEL actuators (e.g. linear contraction and compliance) to develop new morphologies of actuators and robots using principles of bioinspiration. Control systems will be developed that are based on sensor-rich and actuator-rich architectures. This approach will leverage the feedback information provided by the ability of HASEL actuators to capacitively self-sense their deformation state. A prototype system will be produced that integrates all of the above components and whose output state can be accurately predicted with dynamic physics-based simulations. Phase II will extrapolate on these results to design families of actuator morphologies that are optimized for unique tasks within robotic systems, and that are based on the scalable actuator and control systems developed in Phase I. The central result from these efforts will be a new platform for robotic actuation that tightly integrates sensing and controls to enable complex and maneuverable robots. This platform will emphasize modular and accessible software and hardware, for implementation by the commercial, scientific, and defense communities

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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