FULLY-FABRIC SOFT WEARABLE ROBOTICS
Raye Chen-Hua Yeow, Hong-Kai Yap, Xinquan Liang
National University of Singapore, Singapore
Soft robotics is a growing field of robotics, where soft materials are used to fabricate robots capable of providing compliant actuation, giving rise to a wide range of applications including rehabilitation and industrial manipulation. Soft wearable rehabilitation robotic devices are typically powered using soft silicone-based elastomeric actuators, which are lightweight, highly compliant and able to provide sufficient assistive forces to the joints of interest, compared to traditional ‘hard’ robotic devices. In this work, we present our recent developments on a new class of fully-fabric soft actuators that are more advantageous over the silicone-based actuators in terms of relative cost, weight and compactness. We demonstrate a fully-fabric bidirectional soft robotic glove that can assist hand-impaired patients with conducting rehabilitation exercises and activities of daily living. The glove can provide robot-assisted finger flexion-extension, through its embedded fabric-based actuators. These new actuators are able to attain smaller bend radius and output adequate force and torque to assist finger flexion-extension at lower air pressures. Fully-fabric soft wearable robotic devices present an enhanced approach towards developing very low-cost and lightweight soft robotic devices for affordable rehabilitation.