Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. Michael M. Porter, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Joshua Summers

Committee Member

Dr. Nicole Coutris

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to build and test a pneumatically actuated robot based on the biomimetic design of a seahorse tail. McKibben muscles, a form of pneumatic actuator, have been previously used to create highly flexible robots. It has also been discovered that the seahorse tail serves as a highly flexible and prehensile, yet armored appendage. Combining these topics, this research aims to create a robot with the mechanical flexibility of a pneumatic actuator and the protection of a seahorse tail. First, the performance of a miniature McKibben muscle design is examined. Then, the artificial muscles are implemented into a 3D-printed seahorse tail-inspired skeleton. The robot's actuation was observed to determine its maximum bending capacities. The results of the experiments revealed that the miniature McKibben muscles performed comparably to larger sized McKibben muscles previously reported in literature. The pneumatically actuated robot achieved a maximum bend angle of ~22°. Further research is recommended to determine the behaviors of similar robots with additional plates or McKibben muscles spanning shorter plate sequences.

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