Research Papers: Design of Mechanisms and Robotic Systems

Pneumatic Soft Arm Based on Spiral Balloon Weaving and Shape Memory Polymer Backbone

[+] Author and Article Information
Jianbin Liu

Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design, Ministry of Education,
Tianjin University,
Tianjin 300072, China
e-mail: jianbin_liu@tju.edu.cn

Junbo Wei

Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design, Ministry of Education,
Tianjin University,
Tianjin 300072, China
e-mail: haibo_wang@tju.edu.cn

Guokai Zhang

Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design, Ministry of Education,
Tianjin University,
Tianjin 300072, China
e-mail: zhang_gk@tju.edu.cn

Shuxin Wang

Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design, Ministry of Education,
Tianjin University,
Tianjin 300072, China
e-mail: shuxinw@tju.edu.cn

Siyang Zuo

Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design, Ministry of Education,
Tianjin University,
Tianjin 300072, China
e-mail: siyang_zuo@tju.edu.cn

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the Journal of Mechanical Design. Manuscript received June 28, 2018; final manuscript received January 2, 2019; published online April 16, 2019. Assoc. Editor: David Myszka.

J. Mech. Des 141(8), 082302 (Apr 16, 2019) (13 pages) Paper No: MD-18-1496; doi: 10.1115/1.4042618 History: Received June 28, 2018; Accepted January 09, 2019

This paper presents a novel design of soft arm with triplet spiral balloons weaving and a shape memory polymer (SMP) backbone mechanism, which enables dexterous actuation and an additional variable stiffness function. The soft arm is aimed for assisting minimally invasive surgery (MIS). The triplet spiral balloons, which are actuated by pressure air, are woven helically around the SMP backbone, covered by a rubber sheath. This structure gives the soft arm a wide range of actuation, which allows it to reach the target without damaging surrounding tissues blocking its way. The SMP backbone, whose stiffness changes with the temperature, gives the arm the ability of shape holding. Temperature control of the SMP backbone is realized by the electric wire and cooling channels. A prototype is manufactured and a set of experiments is conducted with the aim of assessing the performance of variable stiffness and actuation. The effects of different loads and pressures on trajectory of the arm are evaluated together with the force-deflection curves. The prototype has also been validated with abdominal phantom, demonstrating the potential clinical value of the system.

Copyright © 2019 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Kim, Y. H., Park, Y. J., In, H. K., Chang, W. J., and Cho, K. J., 2016, “Design Concept of Hybrid Instrument for Laparoscopic Surgery and Its Verification Using Scale Model Test,” IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron., 21(1), pp. 142–153.
Zuo, S., and Wang, S., 2016, “Current and Emerging Robotic Assisted Intervention for Notes,” Expert Rev. Med. Devices, 13(12), 1095–1105. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Quaglia, C., Petroni, G., Niccolini, M., Caccavaro, S., Dario, P., and Menciassi, A., 2014, “Design of a Compact Robotic Manipulator for Single-Port Laparoscopy,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 136, 105001. [CrossRef]
Liu, B., Zhang, A., Liu, J., Han, Z., and Xie, T., 2018, “Design and Evaluation of a Novel Rotatable One-Element Snake Bone for NOTES,” ASME J. Med. Devices, 12, 021006. [CrossRef]
Sarli, N., Del Giudice, G., De, S., Dietrich, M. S., Herrell, S. D., and Simaan, N., 2018, “Preliminary PorcineIn Vivo Evaluation of a Telerobotic System for Transurethral Bladder Tumor Resection and Surveillance,” J. Endourol., 32, pp. 516–522. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Swaney, P. J., Mahoney, A. W., Hartley, B. I., Remirez, A. A., Lamers, E., Feins, R. H., Alterovitz, R., and Webster, R. J., 2017, “Toward Transoral Peripheral Lung Access: Combining Continuum Robots and Steerable Needles,” J. Med. Robot. Res., 02, 1750001. [CrossRef]
Vitiello, V., Lee, S. L., Cundy, T. P., and Yang, G. Z., 2013, “Emerging Robotic Platforms for Minimally Invasive Surgery,” IEEE Rev. Biomed. Eng., 6, pp. 111–126. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Peters, B. S., Armijo, P. R., Krause, C., Choudhury, S. A., and Oleynikov, D., 2018, “Review of Emerging Surgical Robotic Technology,” Surg. Endosc., 32, pp. 1636–1655. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Russo, S., Ranzani, T., Walsh, C. J., and Wood, R. J., 2017, “An Additive Millimeter-Scale Fabrication Method for Soft Biocompatible Actuators and Sensors,” Adv. Mater. Technol., 2, 1700135. [CrossRef]
Zuo, S., Hughes, M., and Yang, G. Z., 2017, “Flexible Robotic Scanning Device for Intraoperative Endomicroscopy in MIS,” IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron., 22, pp. 1728–1735. [CrossRef]
Moses, M. S., Murphy, R. J., Kutzer, M. D., and Armand, M., 2015, “Modeling Cable and Guide Channel Interaction in a High-Strength Cable-Driven Continuum Manipulator,” IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron, 20(6), pp. 2876–2889. [CrossRef]
Lakhal, O., Melingui, A., and Merzouki, R., 2016, “Hybrid Approach for Modeling and Solving of Kinematics of a Compact Bionic Handling Assistant Manipulator,” IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron., 21(3), pp. 1326–1335. [CrossRef]
Robinson, R. M., Kothera, C. S., Sanner, R. M., and Wereley, N. M., 2016, “Nonlinear Control of Robotic Manipulators Driven by Pneumatic Artificial Muscles,” IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron., 21(1), pp. 55–68. [CrossRef]
Turkseven, M., and Ueda, J., 2017, “An Asymptotically Stable Pressure Observer Based on Load and Displacement Sensing for Pneumatic Actuators with Long Transmission Lines,” IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron., 22(2), pp. 681–692. [CrossRef]
Kang, R., Guo, Y., Chen, L., Branson, D. T., III, and Dai, J. S., 2016, “Design of a Pneumatic Muscle Based Continuum Robot with Embedded Tendons,” IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron., 22(2), pp. 751–761. [CrossRef]
Cianchetti, M., Ranzani, T., Gerboni, G., Falco, I. D., Laschi, C., and Menciassi, A., 2013, “STIFF-FLOP Surgical Manipulator: Mechanical Design and Experimental Characterization of the Single Module,” Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 3–7, pp. 3576–3581.
Zhu, M., Xu, W., and Cheng, L., 2017, “Esophageal Peristaltic Control of a Soft-Bodied Swallowing Robot by Central Pattern Generator,” IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron., 22(1), pp. 91–98. [CrossRef]
Trivedi, D., Dienno, D., and Rahn, C. D., 2008, “Optimal, Model-Based Design of Soft Robotic Manipulators,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 130, pp. 091402. [CrossRef]
Rus, D., and Tolley, M. T., 2015, “Design, Fabrication and Control of Soft Robots,” Nature, 521(7553), pp. 467–475. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Loeve, A., Breedveld, P., and Dankelman, J., 2010, “Scopes too Flexible…and Too Stiff,” IEEE Pulse, 1(3), pp. 26–41. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Loeve, A. J., Plettenburg, D. H., Breedveld, P., and Dankelman, J., 2012, “Endoscope Shaft-Rigidity Control Mechanism: ‘FORGUIDE’,” IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng., 59, pp. 542–551. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Degani, A., Tully, S., Zubiate, B., and Choset, H., 2012, “Over-Tube Apparatus for Increasing the Capabilities of an Articulated Robotic Probe,” Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Saint Paul, USA, May 14–18, pp. 3533–3534.
Horgan, S., Thompson, K., Talamini, M., Ferreres, A., Jacobsen, G., Spaun, G., Cullen, and J., Swanstrom, L., 2011, “Clinical Experience with a Multifunctional, Flexible Surgery System for Endolumenal, Single-Port, and Notes Procedures,” Surg. Endosc., 25(2), pp. 586–592. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Yagi, A., Matsumiya, K., Masamune, K., Liao, H., and Dohi, T., 2006, “Rigid-Flexible Outer Sheath Model Using Slider Linkage Locking Mechanism and Air Pressure for Endoscopic Surgery,” Proceedings of the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI), Copenhagen, Denmark, Oct. 1–6, pp. 503–510.
Zuo, S., Yamanaka, N., Sato, I., Masamune, K., Liao, H., Matsumiya, K., and Dohi, T., 2008, “MRI Compatible Rigid and Flexible Outer Sheath Device with Pneumatic Locking Mechanism for Minimally Invasive Surgery,” Medical Imaging and Augmented Reality – MIAR 2008, Vol. 5128, Springer, Berlin, pp. 210–219.
Zuo, S., Masamune, K., Kuwana, K., Tomikawa, M., Ieiri, S., Ohdaira, T., Hashizume, M., and Dohi, T. 2011, “Nonmetallic Rigid-Flexible Outer Sheath with Pneumatic Shapelocking Mechanism and Double Curvature Structure,” Proceedings of the Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention (MICCAI), Toronto, Canada, Sept. 18–22, Vol. 6891, pp. 169–177.
Zuo, S., Iijima, K., Tokumiya, T., and Masamune, K., 2014, “Variable Stiffness Outer Sheath with ‘Dragon Skin’ Structure and Negative Pneumatic Shape-Locking,” Int. J. Comput. Assist. Radiol. Surg., 9(5), pp. 857–865. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Kim, Y. J., Cheng, S., Kim, S., and Iagnemma, K., 2014, “A Stiffness Adjustable Hyper Redundant Manipulator Using a Variable Neutral-Line Mechanism for Minimally Invasive Surgery,” IEEE Trans. Robot., 29(4), pp. 1031–1042. [CrossRef]
Cianchetti, M., Ranzani, T., Gerboni, G., Nanayakkara, T., Althoefer, K., Dasgupta, P., and Menciassi, A., 2014, “Soft Robotics Technologies to Address Shortcomings in Today’s Minimally Invasive Surgery: The STIFF-FLOP Approach,” Soft Robot., 1(2), pp. 122–131. [CrossRef]
Zhao, R., Yao, Y., and Luo, Y., 2016, “Development of a Variable Stiffness Over Tube Based on Low-Melting-Point-Alloy for Endoscopic Surgery,” J. Med. Devices, 10(2), pp. 303–310. [CrossRef]
Tonazzini, A., Mintchev, S., Schubert, B., Mazzolai, B., Shintake, J., and Floreano, D., 2016, “Variable Stiffness Fiber With Self-Healing Capability,” Adv. Mater., 28, pp. 10142–10148. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Cheng, N. G., Gopinath, A., Wang, L., Iagnemma, K., and Hosoi, A. E., 2015, “Thermally Tunable, Self-Healing Composites for Soft Robotic Applications,” Macromol. Mater. Eng., 299(11), pp. 1279–1284. [CrossRef]
Hines, L., Arabagi, V., and Sitti, M., 2012, “Shape Memory Polymer-Based Flexure Stiffness Control in a Miniature Flapping-Wing Robot,” IEEE Trans. Robot., 28(4), pp. 987–990. [CrossRef]
Takashima, K., Rossiter, J., and Mukai, T., 2010, “Mckibben Artificial Muscle Using Shape-Memory Polymer,” Sens. Actuators A Phys., 164(12), pp. 116–124. [CrossRef]
Conn, A. T., and Rossiter, J., 2012, “Smart Radially Folding Structures,” IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron., 17(5), pp. 968–975. [CrossRef]
Kazuto, T., Kazuhiro, S., Naohiro, M., Seiya, S., Toshiro, N., and Toshiharu, M., 2014, “Pneumatic Artificial Rubber Muscle Using Shape Memory Polymer Sheet with Embedded Electrical Heating Wire,” Smart Mater. Struct., 23(12), 125005. [CrossRef]
Shen, H., Thompson, K., Xu, Y., Mark, A., Liang, F., Gou, J., and Mabbott, R., 2015, “Platform for Monitoring and Control of Electrically Actuated Shape Memory Polymer Nanocomposite Structures,” IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron., 20(6), pp. 3212–3222. [CrossRef]
Firouzeh, A., Ozmaeian, M., Alasty, A., and zad, A.I., 2012, “An IPMC-Made Deformable-Ring-Like Robot,” Smart. Mater. Struct., 21(6), pp. 65011–65021. [CrossRef]
Firouzeh, A., Yi, S., Hyunchul, L., and Paik, J., 2013, “Sensor and Actuator Integrated Low-Profile Robotic Origami,” Proceedings of the Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 3–7, pp. 4937–4944.
Wang, A., and Li, G., 2015, “Stress Memory of a Thermoset Shape Memory Polymer,” J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 132(24), 42112.
Pulla, S. S., Souri, M., Karaca, H. E., and Charles Lu, Y., 2015, “Characterization and Strain-Energy-Function-Based Modeling of the Thermomechanical Response of Shape-Memory Polymers,” J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 132(18), 41861. [CrossRef]
Hussain, S. A., Ward, S., Mahdavipour, O., Majumdar, R., and Paprotny, I. (2015). “Untethered Microscale Flight: Mechanisms and Platforms for Future MEMS Aerial Microrobotics,” SPIE Sensing Technology+ Applications, 94940F-12.
Ward, S., Foroutan, V., Majumdar, R., Mahdavipour, O., Hussain, S. A., and Paprotny, I., 2015, “Towards Microscale Flight: Fabrication, Stability Analysis, and Initial Flight Experiments for 300×300×1.5 Sized Untethered MEMS Microfliers,” IEEE Trans. Nanobiosci., 14(3), pp. 323–331. [CrossRef]
Dragon skin 20 properties Data Manual. 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.smooth-on.com/products/dragon-skin-20/
Majumdar, R., Foroutan, V., and Paprotny, I., 2014, “Tactile Sensing and Compliance in MicroStressbot Assemblies,” SPIE Defence Security and Sensing 2014, Baltimore, MD, SPIE Proceedings , Vol. 9116.
Foroutan, V., Farzami, F., Erricolo, D., Majumdar, R., and Paprotny, I., 2018, “SATC: An Efficient Control Strategy for Assembly of Heterogenous Stress-Engineered MEMS Microrobots,” International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Brisbane, Australia, May 21–25.
Martinez, R. V., Branch, J. L., Fish, C. R., Jin, L., Shepherd, R. F., Nunes, R. M. D., Suo, Z., and Whitesides, G. M., 2013, “Robotic Tentacles with Three-Dimensional Mobility Based on Flexible Elastomers,” Adv. Mater., 25, pp. 205–212. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Tolley, M. T., Shepherd, R. F., Mosadegh, B., Galloway, K. C., Wehner, M., Karpelson, M., Wood, R. J., and Whitesides, G. M., 2014, “A Resilient, Untethered Soft Robot,” Soft Robot., 1(3), pp. 213–223. [CrossRef]
Suzumori, K., Endo, S., Kanda, T., Kato, N., and Suzuki, H., 2007, “A Bending Pneumatic Rubber Actuator Realizing Soft-Bodied Manta Swimming Robot,” 2007 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, IEEE, New York.
Mosadegh, B., Polygerinos, P., Keplinger, C., Wennstedt, S., Shepherd, R. F., Gupta, U., Shim, J., Bertoldi, K., Walsh, C. J., and Whitesides, G. M., 2014, “Pneumatic Networks for Soft Robotics That Actuate Rapidly,” Adv. Funct. Mater., 24(15), pp. 2163–2170. [CrossRef]
Polygerinos, P., Wang, Z., Galloway, K. C., Wood, R. J., and Walsh, C. J., 2015, “Soft Robotic Glove for Combined Assistance and At-Home Rehabilitation,” Robot. Auton. Syst., 73, pp. 135–143. [CrossRef]
Yang, Y., and Chen, Y., 2016, “Novel Design and 3D Printing of Variable Stiffness Robotic Fingers Based on Shape Memory Polymer,” 2016 6th IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob), IEEE, New York.
Firouzeh, A., Salerno, M., and Paik, J., 2015, “Soft Pneumatic Actuator with Adjustable Stiffness Layers for Multi-DoF Actuation,” 2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), IEEE, New York.


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

3D model of the soft arm: (a) assembled view, (b) exploded view, and (c) cross-sectional view of the soft arm

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

(a) Relationship between the elastic modulus and the temperature of the SMP MM3520 and (b) the fabricated SMP backbone

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

(a) The fabricated balloon components, (b) three balloons of the soft arm, (c) incorporation of silicone rubber balloons and the SMP backbone, and (d) spiral balloon weaving

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

(a) Parameters definition and (b) shape and stiffness control of the soft arm

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Schematic diagram of the soft arm control system

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

The surface temperature changes of the SMP backbone: the heating response (rising) and the cooling response (decreasing). Both the heating and the cooling experiments are performed five times.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

(a) The initial experimental results of one balloon with the SMP backbone: initial state without SMP heating (left), and actuating state with SMP heating (right), (b) static characteristics of one pneumatic balloon with the SMP backbone under different pressures, (c) relationship between bending angle and pressure, and (d) relationship between bending angle and pressure at different temperatures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Results of the single spiral-woven balloon with the SMP backbone: (a) deformation of the spiral-woven balloon with the SMP backbone, (bh) the photo of the actuating experimental results with different pressures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

The actuating test results of the soft arm: (a) deformation of the soft arm, (b) preactuating state while cooling down the SMP backbone, (c) inflated one balloon with SMP backbone heating, (d) inflated two balloons with SMP backbone heating, (e) inflated three balloons with SMP backbone heating, and (f) the shape-locking state while cooling down the SMP backbone

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 10

Results of tip trajectory experiments, (a) coordinate definition, (b) tip trajectory tracking result, (c) xy view of trajectory tracking, (d) xz view of trajectory tracking, and (e) yz view of trajectory tracking

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 11

Shape-holding experiment of the soft arm

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 12

Stiffness experimental results: (a) experiment design, (b) experimental setup, and (c) deflection-force curves in rigid and flexible states

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 13

Results of the deflection experiment, (a, b) setups of the deflection experiments of lateral and longitudinal loads, respectively, (c, d) results of the deflection experiment with lateral load Fx at 60 kPa and 100 kPa pressures, and (e, f) results of deflection evaluation with longitudinal load Fz at 60 kPa and 100 kPa pressures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 14

(a) Soft arm incorporated with a micro CCD camera, (b) and (c) the photo of the developed prototype, (d) abdominal exploration performance, and (e) and (f) the CCD camera views in an abdominal cavity model



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In