Bio-Inspired Design of Soft Robotic Assistive Devices: The Interface of Physics, Biology, and Behavior

Eugene C. Goldfield, Yong Lae Park, Bor Rong Chen, Wen Hao Hsu, Diana Young, Michael Wehner, Damian G. Kelty-Stephen, Leia Stirling, Marc Weinberg, Dava Newman, Radhika Nagpal, Elliot Saltzman, Kenneth G. Holt, Conor Walsh, Robert J. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Wearable assistive robotic devices are characterized by an interface, a meeting place of living tissue and mechanical forces, at which potential and kinetic energy are converted to one or the other form. Ecological scientists may make important contributions to the design of device interfaces because of a functional perspective on energy and information exchange. For ecological scientists, (a) behavioral forms are an assembly of whole functional systems from available parts, emerging in energy flows, and (b) nature explores for informationally based adaptive solutions to assemble behavioral forms by generating spontaneous patterns containing fluctuations. We present data from ongoing studies with infants that demonstrate how infants may explore for adaptive kicking solutions. Inspired by the ecological perspective and data from developing humans, ecological scientists may design interfaces to assist individuals with medical conditions that result in physical and/or mental impairment. We present one such device, what is called the "second skin," to illustrate how a soft, prestressed material, worn on the skin surface, may be used synergistically with synthetic and biological muscles for assisting action. Our work on the second skin, thus far, suggests a set of ecologically inspired principles for design of wearable assistive robotic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-327
Number of pages28
JournalEcological Psychology
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Computer Science(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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