TCP Muscle Tensors: Theoretical Analysis and Potential Applications in Aerial Robotic Systems
The use of aerial systems in a variety of real applications is increasing nowadays. These offer solutions to existing problems in ways that have never seen before thanks to their capability to perform perching, grasping or manipulating in inaccessible or dangerous places. Many of these applications require small-sized robots that can maneuver in narrow environments. However, these are required to have also strength enough to perform the desired tasks. This balance is sometimes unreachable due to the fact that traditional servomotors are too heavyweight for being carried by such small unmanned aerial systems (UAS). This paper, offers a innovative solution based on twisted and coiled polymers (TCP) muscles. These tensors have a high weight/strength ratio (up to 200 times) compared with traditional servos. In this work, the practical and modeling work done by the authors is presented. Then, a preliminary design of a bio-inspired claw for an unmanned aerial system (UAS) is shown. This claw has been developed using additive manufacturing techniques with different materials. Actuated with TCP, it is intrinsically compliant and offers a great force/weight ratio.