An essential ingredient of the next generation of robotic manipulators will be high-strength lightweight arms which promise high-performance characteristics. Currently, a design methodology for optimally synthesizing these essential robotic components does not exist. Herein, an approach is developed for addressing this void in the technology-base by integrating state-of-the-art techniques in both the science of composite materials and also the science of flexible robotic systems. This approach is based on the proposition that optimal performance can be achieved by fabricating robot arms with optimal cross-sectional geometries fabricated with optimally tailored composite laminates. A methodology is developed herein which synthesizes the manufacturing specification for laminates which are specifically tailored for robotic applications in which both high-strength, high-stiffness robot arms are required which also possess high material damping. The parameters in the manufacturing specification include the fiber-volume fraction, the matrix properties, the fiber properties, the ply layups, the stacking sequence and the ply thicknesses. This capability is then integrated within a finite-element methodology for analyzing the dynamic response of flexible robots. An illustrative example demonstrates the approach by simulating the three-dimensional elastodynamic response of a robot subjected to a prescribed spatial maneuver.

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