STTR Phase I: An Actuated Skin for Robotic Facial Expressions

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0539852
Agency Tracking Number: 0539852
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2006
Solicitation Year: 2005
Solicitation Topic Code: AM
Solicitation Number: NSF 05-557
Small Business Information
6117 Reiger Avenue, Dallas, TX, 75214
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 David Hanson
 (213) 840-7174
Business Contact
 Stephen Prilliman
Phone: (972) 307-3417
Research Institution
 Univ of TX Arlington
 Shashank Priya
 Box 19031
Arlington, TX, 76019
 (817) 272-2704
 Nonprofit college or university
This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I research program proposes a novel concept for actuating artificial human-like skin. The application of the artificial skin in numerous applications such as robotic faces, prosthetics and medical simulation devices, animatronics, and high-end toys has been limited because of the lack of adequate muscle-like technologies. A solution to this problem is a novel composite actuator, a hybrid of micro piezoelectric actuators and a porous elastomer which will exhibit several characteristics of natural muscle tissues. The key to these advances is a new technique called structured porosity elastomer manufacturing (SPEM). The objectives are to determine the effect of pore geometry on the material properties in porous elastomers, use this understanding for optimization of the porous network, to fabricate the optimized pore-structure in elastomers by developing a hybrid of rapid-prototyping and injection molding processes, to identify the synthesis issues required for embedding of the piezoelectric actuators in the porous elastomer, and to fabricate the robotic face integrated with novel motion control electronics for driving micro piezoelectric actuators and ultrasonic motors. This research will lead to the fundamental understanding of piezo-actuated structured porous elastomer composite actuators as artificial muscles, their manufacturing technologies, and supporting technologies including drivers, wiring and anchoring. This understanding will be helpful in producing a wide array of bio-inspired mechanical devices that are actuated in the manner of muscles. The development of hybrid of rapid-prototyping of 3D sacrificial material and micro-arrays of piezoactuators, by means of micro-robotic gripper arrayswill provide a practical solution for mass production of active, synthetic soft tissues.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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