Soft locomotion robots are intrinsically compliant and have a large number of degrees of freedom. They lack rigid components that provide them with higher flexibility, and they have no joints that need protection from liquids or dirt. However, the hand-design of soft robots is often a lengthy trail-and-error process. This work presents the computational design of virtual, soft locomotion robots using an approach that integrates simulation feedback. The computational approach consists of three stages: (1) generation, (2) evaluation through simulation, and (3) optimization. Here, designs are generated using a spatial grammar to explicitly guide the type of solutions generated and exclude infeasible designs. The soft material simulation method developed and integrated is stable and sufficiently fast for use in a highly iterative simulated annealing search process. The resulting virtual designs exhibit a large variety of expected and unexpected gaits, thus demonstrating the method capabilities. Finally, the optimization results and the spatial grammar are analyzed to understand and map the challenges of the problem and the search space.
A Spatial Grammar Method for the Computational Design Synthesis of Virtual Soft Locomotion Robots
An earlier iteration of this work was accepted to the 2018 ASME IDETC conference (van Diepen et al. 2018).
Contributed by the Design Automation Committee of ASME for publication in the Journal of Mechanical Design. Manuscript received October 22, 2018; final manuscript received March 15, 2019; published online May 14, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Gary Wang.
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van Diepen, M., and Shea, K. (May 14, 2019). "A Spatial Grammar Method for the Computational Design Synthesis of Virtual Soft Locomotion Robots." ASME. J. Mech. Des. October 2019; 141(10): 101402. doi: https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4043314
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