A Micro Soft Helical Robotic Arm

Chi Cong Nguyen
PhD student
University of New South Wales, Australia
Lab webpage: https://medicalrobotics-lab.com/

The helical shape found in many organisms, such as bio-tentacles and -proboscis, offers a combination of strength and flexibility, making it ideal for the design of artificial soft robotic arms. Inspired by this specialized structure, this abstract introduces a novel approach for developing a hydraulically driven soft helical robotic arm, that can extend and retract with remarkable speed and precision. The proposed device consists of a soft artificial muscle and a programable outer sheath, that can wrap around the target object, providing a firm grip that can be maintained throughout the extraction process. The robotic arm is driven by hydraulic pressure, which enables precise control of the helical arm’s movement, with a response latency of about 0.0482 seconds. By using the hydraulic actuator, the proposed device overcomes its archrival competitor, cable-driven actuators, which are often associated with highly nonlinear hysteresis and force loss. The device is designed to have a micro size with an outer diameter of 850 μm, making it suitable for use in minimally invasive procedures such as a microgripper for small object removal and blood clot extraction in endovascular surgery. Its soft and flexible structure minimizes the risk of tissue damage, while the helical design enables a secure grip on the target object. In conclusion, this bio-inspired hydraulically driven soft helical robotic arm presents a promising approach to developing a microgripper for small object removal and blood clot extraction in clinical settings. The helical shape found in biological creatures offers an ideal template for developing functional devices with enhanced properties. Further research is required to optimize the design and validate the efficacy of the proposed device in preclinical and clinical settings.

Chi Cong Nguyen received a B.Eng. in Mechatronics from Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Hanoi, Vietnam. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, UNSW, Sydney, Australia. His research interests include medical robotics, flexible surgical devices, soft robotics, wearable devices, haptics, system modeling, and advanced control algorithms