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HASEL Artificial Muscles for Human-Scale Robotics

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Army
Contract: W911NF-22-C-0024
Agency Tracking Number: A2-9150
Amount: $1,150,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: A20B-T007
Solicitation Number: 20.B
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-06-24
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-06-23
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
 University of Colorado Boulder-Office of Contracts and Grants
 Jessica Rowell
3100 Marine Street 572 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0572
United States

 (303) 735-6299
 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 limit the complexity and degrees of freedom of such systems and making close interactions with humans unsafe. The realization of versatile, highly-maneuverable robots will rely on next-generation actuators that are scalable and tunable. These high-performance actuators will need to be tightly-integrated with sensory feedback and control systems to demonstrate robots with a high degrees-of-freedom. 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. These actuators can be rapidly produced in a variety of designs using an inexpensive and industrially-amenable fabrication process.    During Phase I of this STTR project, Artimus Robotics of Boulder, Colorado, the world-leader in the research, development, and manufacturing of HASEL actuators, partnered with the Bio-Inspired Perception and Robotics Laboratory (BPRL) of CU Boulder, an expert in robotics control theory and implementation, to explore the use of HASEL Artificial Muscles for Human-Scale Robotics. During Phase I, the team created a bio-inspired bicep-triceps demonstrator to successfully demonstrate the use of highly controllable HASEL actuators for human scale robotics. The team evaluated key criteria necessary for limb-based robots and highlighted the opportunities for customizable HASEL actuators in bio-inspired robotic morphologies. The team also used dynamic mode decomposition to develop high control of bio-inspired demonstrator. Lastly, a physics-based simulation of the model system was implemented and validated.    During Phase II of this STTR project, the same two entities will again collaborate to vastly expand the capabilities of HASEL Artificial Muscles for Human-Scale Robotics. A bio-inspired robotic ball-and-socket joint will be developed that utilizes families of HASEL actuators to mimic the functionality of a human shoulder. To realize this demonstrator, families of HASEL actuators will be developed in a variety of sizes and shapes, and key features of the actuators, such as energy density and self-sensing, will be improved. Additionally, more robust control laws for closed-loop control of families of HASEL actuators will be developed and implemented in hardware that can move out of a laboratory setting and into real-world applications. This control theory will be developed with an empirical framework built on Dynamic Mode Decomposition with control. The project will culminate in a demonstration of the highly controllable robotic shoulder that is capable of performing real world tasks with a variety of motions.

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

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