A bistable soft gripper with mechanically embedded sensing and actuation for fast closed-loop grasping

Thomas George Thuruthel, Syed Haider Abidi, Matteo Cianchetti, Cecilia Laschi, Egidio Falotico

Soft robotic grippers are shown to be high effective for grasping unstructured objects with simple sensing and control strategies. However, they are still limited by their speed, sensing capabilities and actuation mechanism. Hence, their usage have been restricted in highly dynamic grasping tasks. This paper presents a soft robotic gripper with tunable bistable properties for sensor-less dynamic grasping. The bistable mechanism allows us to store arbitrarily large strain energy in the soft system which is then released upon contact. The mechanism also provides flexibility on the type of actuation mechanism as the grasping and sensing phase is completely passive. Theoretical background behind the mechanism is presented with finite element analysis to provide insights into design parameters. Finally, we experimentally demonstrate sensor-less dynamic grasping of an unknown object within 0.02 seconds, including the time to sense and actuate.

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