Motion Planning based on Learning from Demonstration for Multiple-Segment Flexible Robots Actuated by Electroactive Polymers

Multiple-segment flexible and soft robotic arms composed by ionic polymer – metal composite (IPMC) flexible actuators exhibit compliance but suffer from the difficulty of path planning due to their redundant degrees of freedom, although they are promising in complex tasks such as crossing body cavities to grasp objects. We propose a learning from demonstration method to plan the motion paths of IPMC-based manipulators, by statistics machine-learning algorithms. To encode demonstrated trajectories and estimate suitable paths for the manipulators to reproduce the task, models are built based on Gaussian mixture model and Gaussian mixture regression, respectively. The forward and inverse kinematic models of IPMC-based soft robotic arm are derived for the motion control. A flexible and soft robotic manipulator is implemented with six IPMC segments, and it verifies the learned paths by successfully completing a representative task of navigating through a narrow keyhole.
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