3 April 2012 Dielectric elastomer vibrissal system for active tactile sensing
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Rodents are able to dexterously navigate confined and unlit environments by extracting spatial and textural information with their whiskers (or vibrissae). Vibrissal-based active touch is suited to a variety of applications where vision is occluded, such as search-and-rescue operations in collapsed buildings. In this paper, a compact dielectric elastomer vibrissal system (DEVS) is described that mimics the vibrissal follicle-sinus complex (FSC) found in rodents. Like the vibrissal FSC, the DEVS encapsulates all sensitive mechanoreceptors at the root of a passive whisker within an antagonistic muscular system. Typically, rats actively whisk arrays of macro-vibrissae with amplitudes of up to ±25°. It is demonstrated that these properties can be replicated by exploiting the characteristic large actuation strains and passive compliance of dielectric elastomers. A prototype DEVS is developed using VHB 4905 and embedded strain gauges bonded to the root of a tapered whisker. The DEVS is demonstrated to produce a maximum rotational output of ±22.8°. An electro-mechanical model of the DEVS is derived, which incorporates a hyperelastic material model and Euler- Bernoulli beam equations. The model is shown to predict experimental measurements of whisking stroke amplitude and whisker deflection.
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Andrew T. Conn, Martin J. Pearson, Anthony G. Pipe, Jason Welsby, Jonathan Rossiter, "Dielectric elastomer vibrissal system for active tactile sensing", Proc. SPIE 8340, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2012, 83400F (3 April 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.915425; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.915425

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