Actuators are the most important elements that affect the performance of biorobotic systems design and development. One of the objectives of this project is to design stronger, lighter, 3D printable, functionally graded bone-like structures and bio-inspired musculoskeletal system for the articulation of robots. Another objective is to identify the fundamental science of manufacturing and modeling of the muscle systems. A modular building block is presented consisting of bone-like structures, cartilages and artificial muscles (that are inexpensive and powerful), which can be cascaded to create complex robots. In this paper, we present terrestrial robots as a demonstration of the building blocks for biorobotic systems. We particularly illustrate a humanoid robot developed using soft actuators based on twisted and coiled polymer (TCP) muscles. The integration of TCPs in biorobotic systems has some challenges to overcome such as initial pre-stress, adding multiple actuators in parallel or in antagonistic pair and speed of actuation and other accessories. We will quantify the performance of these robots experimentally. We presented two TCP muscles types, one without heating element and the other one that incorporates a heating element that allows electrical actuation.
With increasing popularity of portable devices for outdoor activities, portable energy harvesting devices are coming into spot light. The next generation energy harvester which is called hybrid energy harvester can employ more than one mechanism in a single device to optimize portion of the energy that can be harvested from any source of waste energy namely motion, vibration, heat and etc. In spite of few recent attempts for creating hybrid portable devices, the level of output energy still needs to be improved with the intention of employing them in commercial electronic systems or further applications. Moreover, implementing a practical hybrid energy harvester in different application for further investigation is still challenging. This proposal is projected to incorporate a novel approach to maximize and optimize the voltage output of hybrid energy harvesters to achieve a greater conversion efficiency normalized by the total mass of the hybrid device than the simple arithmetic sum of the individual harvesting mechanisms. The energy harvester model previously proposed by Larkin and Tadesse  is used as a baseline and a continuous unidirectional rotation is incorporated to maximize and optimize the output. The device harvest mechanical energy from oscillatory motion and convert it to electrical energy through electromagnetic and piezoelectric systems. The new designed mechanism upgrades the device in a way that can harvest energy from both rotational and linear motions by using magnets. Likewise, the piezoelectric section optimized to harvest at least 10% more energy. To the end, the device scaled down for tested with different sources of vibrations in the immediate environment, including machinery operation, bicycle, door motion while opening and closing and finally, human motions. Comparing the results from literature proved that current device has capability to be employed in commercial small electronic devices for enhancement of battery usage or as a backup power source.
 Larkin, Miles, and Yonas Tadesse. "HM-EH-RT: hybrid multimodal energy harvesting from rotational and translational motions." International Journal of Smart and Nano Materials 4.4 (2013): 257-285.
3D printing technology has been used for rapid prototyping since 1980’s and is still developing in a way that can be used for customized products with complex design and miniature features. Among all the available 3D printing techniques, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is one of the most widely used technologies because of its capability to build different structures by employing various materials. However, complexity of parts made by FDM is greatly limited by restriction of using support materials. Support materials are often used in FDM for several complex geometries such as fully suspended shapes, overhanging surfaces and hollow features. This paper describes an approach to 3D print a structure using silicone elastomer and polylactide fiber (PLA) by employing a novel support material that is soluble in water. This support material is melted sugar which can easily be prepared at a low cost. Sugar is a carbohydrate, which is found naturally in plants such as sugarcane and sugar beets; therefore, it is completely organic and eco-friendly. As another advantage, the time for removing this material from the part is considerably less than other commercially available support materials and it can be removed easily by warm water without leaving any trace. Experiments were done using an inexpensive desktop 3D printer to fabricate complex structures for use in soft robots. The results envision that further development of this system would contribute to a method of fabrication of complex parts with lower cost yet high quality.
Energy harvesting from structure vibration, human motion or environmental source has been the focus of researchers in the past few decades. This paper proposes a novel design that is suitable to harvest energy from human motions such as dancing or physical exercise and use the device to engage young students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and outreach activities. The energy harvester (EH) device was designed for a dominant human operational frequency range of 1–5 Hz and it can be wearable by human. We proposed to incorporate different genres of music coupled with energy harvesting technologies for motivation and energy generation. Students will learn both science and art together, since the energy harvesting requires understanding basic physical phenomena and the art enables various physical movements that imparts the largest motion transfer to the EH device. Therefore, the systems are coupled to each other. Young people follow music updates more than robotics or energy harvesting researches. Most popular videos on YouTube and VEVO are viewed more than 100 million times. Perhaps, integrating the energy harvesting research with music or physical exercise might enhance students’ engagement in science, and needs investigation. A multimodal energy harvester consisting of piezoelectric and electromagnetic subsystems, which can be wearable in the leg, is proposed in this study. Three piezoelectric cantilever beams having permanent magnets at the ends are connected to a base through a slip ring. Stationary electromagnetic coils are installed in the base and connected in series. Whenever the device is driven by any oscillation parallel to the base, the unbalanced rotor will rotate generating energy across the stationary coils in the base. In another case, if the device is driven by an oscillation perpendicular to the base, a stress will be induced within the cantilever beams generating energy across the piezoelectric materials.