March 13, 2014

Autonomous Soft Robotic Fish Capable of Escape Maneuvers Using Fluidic Elastomer Actuators


In this work we describe an autonomous soft-bodied robot that is both self-contained and capable of rapid, continuum-body motion. We detail the design, modeling, fabrication, and control of the soft fish, focusing on enabling the robot to perform rapid escape responses. The robot employs a compliant body with embedded actuators emulating the slender anatomical form of a fish. In addition, the robot has a novel fluidic actuation system that drives body motion and has all the subsystems of a traditional robot onboard: power, actuation, processing, and control. At the core of the fish's soft body is an array of fluidic elastomer actuators. We design the fish to emulate escape responses in addition to forward swimming because such maneuvers require rapid body accelerations and continuum-body motion.