Origami-inspired Foldable Robotic Arm
A foldable arm is one of the practical applications of folding. It can help mobile robots and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) overcome access issues by allowing them to reach to confined spaces. The origami-inspired design enables a foldable structure to be lightweight, compact, and scalable while maintaining its kinematic behavior. However, lack of structural stiffness has been a major limitation in the practical use of origami-inspired designs. Resolving this obstacle without losing the inherent advantages of origami is a challenge. We solve this issue by implementing a simple stiffening mechanism which utilizes an origami principle of perpendicular folding. The simplicity of the stiffening mechanism enables an actuation system to drive shape and stiffness changes with only a single electric motor. The results show that this design is effective for a foldable arm and allows a UAV to perform a variety of tasks in a confined space.
Related papers and patents
S.-J. Kim, D.-Y. Lee, G.-P. Jung and K.-J. Cho, "An origami-inspired, self-locking robotic arm that can be folded flat," Science Robotics, vol. 3, no. 16, 2018 Science Robotics vol. 3 [PDF]
Foldable module and manipulator using the same (Korea Patent Application number 10-2018-0027654)