The possibility of handling uncooperative objects, i.e. objects not equipped with any features that can aid their manipulation, is of particular interest for both terrestrial and space robotic applications. In this framework, this paper deals with the development and testing of a smart material substrate, which can be integrated into an end-effector device, where morphing and electro-adhesive capabilities are combined to allow the manipulation of uncooperative objects of different shapes and materials. Compliance and adhesion properties are obtained by creating a conductive pattern of electrodes embodied on the surface of a polymeric substrate. On one hand, the polymeric material, activated by a change in temperature, can adapt to any shape when it is heated, and maintain the deformed shape after being cooled, even when the load is removed, becoming compliant with the objects surface. On the other hand, the conductive pattern is responsible for the adhesive effect: when a high voltage is applied, the electric field generated induces an opposite charge on the objects surface establishing reversible attraction forces. Furthermore, the conductive pattern could be used to activate the morphing behaviour when the manipulator and the target object come into contact. A resistiveelectroadhesive pad is realized and some tests are performed to verify the heating behavior of the electrodes and the electroadhesion forces achievable. Morphing tests are also performed to verify the ability of the polymeric substrate to maintain the deformed shape after cooling.
The focus of this paper is on the characterization of a balloon-shape actuator (BSA), based on dielectric
electroactive polymers, which has a spherical shape, and it is pre-strained by pressurized air. Under electrical
activation, the electrodes on the inner and outer surfaces of the BSA squeeze the elastomer in its radial thickness
direction which results in a radial expansion of the BSA. This actuator has the potential to display large
deformations under high compression loads. In this paper, a finite element model of the BSA is created by using
ANSYS11 software. The mechanical behaviour of the BSA is studied, and the simulation results are presented. The
mechanical properties of dielectric elastomers are experimentally measured and hyperelastic models used to fit the