The EPFL team in MERGING presented a paper, in the form of an on-demand presentation, at the SPIE Smart Structures & Non Destructive Evaluation Conference, held between 1 and 4 April 2022. The paper was presented as part of the Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) Conference.

Krishna Manaswi Digumarti, Michael Smith and Herbert R. Shea. A variable stiffness soft gripper with integrated ion-drag pump. 

We present a compact, prehensile and soft gripper capable of varying its stiffness on demand, allowing not only grasping but also manipulation of objects. The gripper consists of fluidic chambers within a silicone structure and two electrostatic clutches bonded to opposite external surfaces. Actuation is achieved by pressurizing the chambers using an integrated electrohydrodynamic ‘ion-drag’ pump while simultaneously blocking one of the clutches, causing the structure to bend around and grasp an object. Once the object is grasped, the second clutch is blocked, significantly increasing the bending stiffness of the structure and allowing the object to be manipulated.