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15 April 2016 Modeling and control of a dielectric elastomer actuator
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The emerging field of soft robotics offers the prospect of applying soft actuators as artificial muscles in the robots, replacing traditional actuators based on hard materials, such as electric motors, piezoceramic actuators, etc. Dielectric elastomers are one class of soft actuators, which can deform in response to voltage and can resemble biological muscles in the aspects of large deformation, high energy density and fast response. Recent research into dielectric elastomers has mainly focused on issues regarding mechanics, physics, material designs and mechanical designs, whereas less importance is given to the control of these soft actuators. Strong nonlinearities due to large deformation and electromechanical coupling make control of the dielectric elastomer actuators challenging. This paper investigates feed-forward control of a dielectric elastomer actuator by using a nonlinear dynamic model. The material and physical parameters in the model are identified by quasi-static and dynamic experiments. A feed-forward controller is developed based on this nonlinear dynamic model. Experimental evidence shows that this controller can control the soft actuator to track the desired trajectories effectively. The present study confirms that dielectric elastomer actuators are capable of being precisely controlled with the nonlinear dynamic model despite the presence of material nonlinearity and electromechanical coupling. It is expected that the reported results can promote the applications of dielectric elastomer actuators to soft robots or biomimetic robots.
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Ujjaval Gupta, Guo-Ying Gu, and Jian Zhu "Modeling and control of a dielectric elastomer actuator", Proc. SPIE 9798, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2016, 979812 (15 April 2016);

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