A Soft, Multi-Layer, Kirigami Inspired Robotic Gripper with a Compact, Compression Based Actuation System

Over the last decade a plethora of soft robotic devices has been proposed for the execution of complex grasping and dexterous manipulation tasks. Tasks that require such an increased dexterity are typically executed using fully-actuated, rigid end-effectors that are equipped with sophisticated sensing and are controlled with complex control laws. The new class of soft robotic devices offers an alternative to the traditional end-effectors and facilitates the development of robotic grasping and manipulation solutions that are lightweight, safe to interact with, affordable, and easy to use and control. Within the class of soft robotic grippers and hands, particular effort has been put into the development of ultra affordable, even disposable mechanisms based on οrigami and kirigami structures. In this paper, we propose a new kirigami inspired robotic gripper geometry employing compression-based actuation. The compression actuation aspect fundamentally differentiates this new design class from previous kirigami grippers, as it results in more compact robotic grippers and superior grasping capabilities. In particular, we investigate how the shapes of the internal cuts of the kirigami geometries can affect the gripper performance in terms of force exertion capabilities and grasping efficiency. A series of experiments are conducted to better understand the working principles behind this new type of kirigami grippers and experimentally validate the efficiency in the execution of complex, everyday life tasks. Further demonstrations of the gripper capabilities include the pick-and-placing of human hair, egg yolk, and even liquids.