Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

Dr. Ian Walker

Committee Member

Dr. Keith Green

Committee Member

Dr. Richard Groff

Abstract

Continuum robots, which have continuous mechanical structures comparable to the flexibility in elephant trunks and octopus arms, have been primarily geared toward the medical and defense communities. In space, however, NASA projects these robots to have a place in irregular inspection routines. The inherent compliance and bending of these continuum arms are especially suitable for inspection in obstructed spaces to ensure proper equipment functionality. In this paper, we propose a new solution that improves on the functionality of previous continuum robots, via a novel mechanical scaly layer-jamming design. Layer-jamming assisted continuum arms have previously required pneumatic sources for actuation, which limit their portability and usage in aerospace applications. This paper combines the compliance of continuum arms and stiffness modulation of the layer jamming mechanism to design new hybrid layer jamming continuum arms. The novel designs use an electromechanical actuation which eliminates the previous need for pneumatic actuation therefore making the hardware compact and portable.

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