Category Archives: Publications

Daniel Feshbach’s and Annie Yang’s papers accepted to IROS/RA-L!

Daniel Feshbach, Cynthia Sung: Reconfiguring Non-Convex Holes in Pivoting Modular Cube Robots. In: IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2021, (To be presented at IROS 2021).

Abstract: We present an algorithm for self-reconfiguration of admissible 3D configurations of pivoting modular cube robots with holes of arbitrary shape and number. Cube modules move across the surface of configurations by pivoting about shared edges, enabling configurations to reshape themselves. Previous work provides a reconfiguration algorithm for admissible 3D configurations containing no non-convex holes; we improve upon this by handling arbitrary admissible 3D configurations. The key insight specifies a point in the deconstruction of layers enclosing non-convex holes at which we can pause and move inner modules out of the hole. We prove this happens early enough to maintain connectivity, but late enough to open enough room in the enclosing layer for modules to escape the hole. Our algorithm gives reconfiguration plans with O(n^2) moves for n modules.

Zhiyuan Yang, Dongsheng Chen, David J. Levine, Cynthia Sung: Origami-inspired robot that swims via jet propulsion. In: IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2021, (to appear).

Abstract: Underwater swimmers present unique opportunities for using bodily reconfiguration for self propulsion. Origami-inspired designs are low-cost, fast to fabricate, robust, and can be used to create compliant mechanisms useful in energy efficient underwater locomotion. In this paper, we demonstrate an origami-inspired robot that can change its body shape to ingest and expel water, creating a jet that propels it forward similarly to cephalopods. We use the magic ball origami pattern, which can transform between ellipsoidal (low volume) and spherical (high volume) shapes. A custom actuation mechanism contracts the robot to take in fluid, and the inherent mechanics of the magic ball returns the robot to its natural shape upon release. We describe the design and control of this robot and verify its locomotion in a water tank. The resulting robot is able to move forward at 6.7 cm/s (0.2 body lengths/s), with a cost of transport of 2.0.

Congratulations to Jessica McWilliams and Christopher Kim, whose papers were accepted to RoboSoft 2021!

Jessica McWilliams, Yifan Yuan, Jason Friedman, Cynthia Sung: Push On, Push Off: A compliant bistable gripper with mechanical sensing and actuation. IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), 2021.
Christopher Kim, Athena Chien, Megha Tippur, Cynthia Sung: Fabrication and characterization of I-cord knitted SMA actuators. IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), 2021.

ICRA and RoboSoft publications: Jumping and Hopping Origami Robots

Our papers on using origami for energy storage in dynamic robot locomotion were accepted to ICRA and RoboSoft!

REBOund: Untethered Origami Jumping Robot with Controllable Jump Height” (ICRA 2020)

Abstract: Origami robots are well-suited for jumping maneuvers because of their light weight and ability to incorporate actuation and control strategies directly into the robot body. However, existing origami robots often model fold patterns as rigidly foldable and fail to take advantage of deformation in an origami sheet for potential energy storage. In this paper, we consider a parametric origami tessellation, the Reconfigurable Expanding Bistable Origami (REBO) pattern, which leverages face deformations to act as a nonlinear spring. We present a pseudo-rigid-body model for the REBO for computing its energy stored when compressed to a given displacement and compare that model to experimental measurements taken on a mechanical testing system. This stored potential energy, when released quickly, can cause the pattern to jump. Using our model and experimental data, we design and fabricate a jumping robot, REBOund, that uses the spring-like REBO pattern as its body. Four lightweight servo motors with custom release mechanisms allow for quick compression and release of the origami pattern, allowing the fold pattern to jump over its own height even when carrying 5 times its own weight in electronics and power. We further demonstrate that small geometric changes to the pattern allow us to change the jump height without changing the actuation or control mechanism.

A tendon-driven origami hopper triggered by proprioceptive contact detection” (RoboSoft 2020)

Abstract: We report on experiments with a laptop-sized (0.23m, 2.53kg), paper origami robot that exhibits highly dynamic and stable two degree-of-freedom (circular boom) hopping at speeds in excess of 1.5 bl/s (body-lengths per second) at a specific resistance O(1) while achieving aerial phase apex states 25% above the stance height over thousands of cycles. Three conventional brushless DC motors load energy into the folded paper springs through pulley-borne cables whose sudden loss of tension upon touchdown triggers the release of spring potential that accelerates the body back through liftoff to flight with a 20W powerstroke, whereupon the toe angle is adjusted to regulate fore-aft speed. We also demonstrate in the vertical hopping mode the transparency of this actuation scheme by using proprioceptive contact detection with only motor encoder sensing. The combination of actuation and sensing shows potential to lower system complexity for tendon-driven robots.