2014 EAP-in-Action – SPIE’s EAPAD Conf.



Bio-inspired autonomous robot actuated by ionic EAPs.

Indrek Must, Friedrich Kaasik, Inga Põldsalu, Lauri Mihkels, Urmas Johanson, Andres Punning, Alvo Aabloo; Intelligent Materials and Systems Lab (http://www.ims.ut.ee), University of Tartu: Nooruse 1, Tartu, Estonia. Tel: +372 737 4832.


Presenters on-site:  Indrek Must*, Friedrich Kaasik

* indrekm@ut.ee, Intelligent Materials and Systems Lab, Institute of Technology, University of Tartu, Nooruse 1, Tartu, 50411, Estonia


An autonomous crawling microrobot with locomotion inspired by an inchworm and propelled by ionic liquid-based bending EAPs is presented. This microprocessor-controlled robot is powered by an on-board lithium battery and is able to move in ambient air on a smooth surface. The construction takes advantage of the unique properties of soft iEAP technology.






DEA enhanced PC-mouse for improving human machine interaction.


Henry Haus, Holger Mößinger, and  Helmut F. Schlaak

Technische Universität Darmstadt, Institute of Electromechanical Design, Darmstadt, Germany

Contact: Holger Moessinger, Laboratory of Microtechnology and Electromechanical systems (M+EMS), Elektroactive Polymers (EAP), Technische Universität Darmstadt, Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, Institute of Electromechanical Design, Building S3|06, Room 140, Merckstraße 25, D-64283 Darmstadt, Germany, Phone: +49 6151 16-2496, Fax: +49 6151 16-4096, email:  h.moessinger@emk.tu-darmstadt.de, web:    www.emk.tu-darmstadt.de,  www.emk.tu-darmstadt.de/eap


The flexibility of rubber-like dielectric elastomer actuators allows adjusting the shape of tactile interfaces to fit onto arbitrary surfaces.  These flexibility offers the opportunity to provide tactile stimulus not only the fingertips but also to other parts of the human body, using greater parts of the human skin to transmit information. A fully functional PC-mouse, enhanced with DEA technology, providing tactile feedback into the palm of the users hand, will be demonstrated. The audience may try out the tactile feedback while interacting with specially designed demo software on a PC, giving everyone the opportunity to experience the advantages of flexible DE-actuators for human machine interaction.





Smart Gel Robotics with Flexible & Transparent Shape Memory Gel (FT-SMG)

Jin Gong, Hidemitsu Furukawa

Soft and Wet Matter Engineering Laboratory (SWEL), Yamagata University (Japan)

Contact: Jin Gong <jingong@yz.yamagata-u.ac.jp>


A smart varifocal lens is designed with flexible & transparent shape memory gel (FT-SMG), which freely adjusts the focal length based on simple mechanism of changing water pressure inside. Except for a soft eye of a robot, we have also developed other FT-SMG gel for robots including soft touch paper and soft skin finger.










New Zealand

Wearable and portable energy harvesters and soft sensor technologies


Presenters:  Iain Anderson1, 2, Thomas McKay1, Daniel Xu1, Andrew Lo1, Tony Tse1, Todd Gisby2

1 Biomimetics Laboratory and 2StretchSense Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand

Contact: Iain A. Anderson, Biomimetics Lab, i.anderson@auckland.ac.nz, www.abi.auckland.ac.nz/biomimetics

and Stretchsense Ltd., iain@stretchsense.co.nz, www.stretchsense.com


The Biomimetics Lab and the new spinout StretchSense Ltd. will demonstrate advances leading to an exciting future of wearable and portable energy harvesters and soft sensor technologies that include a wireless glove.


(1) Getting low voltage power from a dielectric elastomer generator (DEG) is now possible. The developed electronics is specifically designed for small portable DEGs that are capable of efficiently transforming high voltage to low voltage.


(2) To get the most out of a DEG, its mechanical strain should be sensed. The best way to do this is to monitor the elastomer directly: to self-sense. The DEGs can now self-sense, simultaneously harvesting energy and sensing mechanical state without the need for bulky sensors.


(3) Measuring human body motion can provide valuable feedback for sports, medical, video and game applications. The next generation of soft sensor technologies, including a wireless glove, will be presented.







High speed silicone DEAs - S. Rosset, S. Araromi, A. Poulin, L. Maffli, J. Shintake, and H. Shea, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland)

µm- to cm-scale dielectric elastomer actuators will be presented. Processes to manufacture DEAs were developed with a high quality and reliability. Llarge area silicone membrane casting and precise patterning of electrodes allows producing small-scale and robust DEAs with a high yield. Different functioning devices will be demonstrated, such as a 4 fingers multi-segment gripper, seen in the photo grabbing a mockup of EPFL’s SwissCube. This DEA-based gripper is a soft-actuator candidate to be mounted on CleanSpace One, the EPFL’s next satellite whose task is to demonstrate the possibility of orbital debris removal by capturing and deorbiting the now-decommissioned SwissCube [http://space.epfl.ch/page-61745-en.html].








United Kingdom

DEA-Based Whisker for Robotics
Tareq Assaf, Jonathan Rossiter, Andrew Conn, Martin Pearson, Peter Walters Bristol Robotics Lab. (United Kingdom)

DEA-based whisker module will be presented showing the results of the efforts to scale and overcome critical issues for the exploitation of this artificial muscle technology in robotics, in particular as actuator to drive active tactile sensing. The modularity, dimensions, low weight and soft features make of this technology ideal for such application with relatively easy access to 2 Degrees of freedom and achieving both actuator and sensor capabilities. During the demonstration the prototypes will be shown and actuated together with the new upcoming release that contains improvements both on the design and performance point of view.
Acknowledgement: The DEA-based whisker module has been developed under the BELLA Project funded by EPSRC under grant EP/I032533/1


University of Texas at Dallas

Schematic of torsional and tensile muscles produced from carbon-based materials

Carbon-Based Tensile and Torsional Artificial Muscles

Carter S. Haines, Marcio D. Lima, Ray H. Baughman, Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute, University of Texas at Dallas

Contact: Carter Haines <pseudonomen137@gmail.com>, (214) 562-1661


Carbon-based artificial muscles have been designed to provide fast torsional and tensile actuation. In tension, these muscles can provide in excess of 20% stroke without hysteresis when powered electrically or by using hot liquids such as water. More than a million cycles of reversible tensile actuation have been performed without a significant loss of performance. Torsional muscles that can move heavy loads and operate from ambient temperature gradients have also been shown. Such muscles can be woven into braids and fabrics to produce smart textiles and actuating fabric. Demonstrations include torsional and tensile muscles exhibiting large stroke and giant force performance.













ViviTouch® HD Feel enables advanced and multi-dimensional communication through touch.

Dirk Schapeler, ViviTouch, A Bayer Brand
Contact: Dirk Schapeler


An EAP stacked actuator will be demonstrated that is smaller than a thumb tack that is easily integrated as wearable devices and unique spaces.  It can be used as a bracelet or line clothing, in trigger buttons or thumb sticks, in a game controller for direct contact with skin as well as individually controlled haptic feedback zones.  The device provides high definition feel with a broad spectrum of haptic effects having silent operation and without any audible buzzer.





Ras Labs

Synthetic MuscleTM: EAP-based materials and actuators
Lenore Rasmussen and Eric Sandberg, (United States)

The most recently enhanced EAP material called Synthetic Muscle TM will be demonstrated contracting and expanding. The material can be activated in a controlled zone (the photos show expansion in the middle of the film) offering the potential of haptic interfacing with programmable reasons.