2006 EAPAD Conference, San Diego, California, USA

EAP-in-Action Session

February 27, 2006, 5:00 to 6:00 PM



MODERATOR: Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Chair, EAPAD Conference


This Session that is held annually as part of the SPIE’s EAPAD conference is intended to turn the spotlight on Electroactive Polymers (EAP) materials and their applications as well as increase the recognition of their potential.   New materials and applications are continuing to emerge and this session provides the attendees an opportunity to see in-action demonstrations of the latest EAP materials.  This Session offers a forum for interaction between the technology developers and potential users allowing "hands-on" experience with this emerging technology.  It is a great opportunity to see the capability of the state-of-the-art of EAP as potential actuators-of-choice. 

This year, this Session will be opened with greeting by a robotic android head that makes facial expressions (developed by Hanson Robotics).  This will be followed by the 2nd EAP Arm Wrestling Contest in which we are going to focus on competing among EAP actuated robotic arms.  In a future conference, once sufficient advances are made, a professional wrestler will be invited for the next human/machine wrestling match.  This year we expect the participation of three EAP robotic arms.  These arms were made by ERI, Albuquerque, NM; and two groups of students from Virginia Tech.  Before the start of the contest, each of the arm developers will give a short description of the participating arm, the EAP actuation mechanism and information about its performance characteristics.  To establish a baseline, we will start with measuring the capability of Panna Felsen, now student at Caltech, who was the human wrestler in 2005.  This will be followed with determining the performance of the three robotic arms for which we will measure the speed and pulling force capability while they lifting weight of 0.5-kg.  The arms will be invited to wrestle with each other to select the strongest.

Following the contest, we will turn the attention to EAP-in-Action demonstrations and we expect the participation of several presenters including ones from the University of Pisa, Italy; Artificial Muscle, Inc.; SRI International; UCLA;  NanoSonic; and Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT) with Eamex, Japan. 



Session Opening: Einstein-like robotic head that was developed by Hanson Robotics will greet the participants while making facial expressions.



EAP Robotic Arms



Environmental Robots Incorporated (ERI),  Albuquerque, New Mexico


Presenter: Mohsen Shahinpoor

ERI is going to use its EWA-3 wrestling robotic arm that is actuated by polymeric muscle consisting of a proprietary blend of  IPMC's and SMP's.  It is electrically activated and its actuation mechanism is based on contraction and expansion.

Virginia Tech


The Mechanical Engineering Department


Primary Advisor: Barbar Akle


Co-Advisors: Nakhiah Goulbourne and Don Leo

Actuation of a Robotic Arm with the use of Dielectric Elastomers


The mechanical engineering department at Virginia Tech has sponsored a team to enter the EAP Arm Wrestling Competition at the 2006 EAPAD Conference.  This team is led by Barbar Akle and consists of seven undergraduate engineers.  Their design utilizes dielectric elastomers to actuate a robotic arm in order to mimic the movement of a human arm.   


Primary Advisor: Barbar Akle, bakle@vt.edu

Student Team Leader:  Jaime Schmieg  jschmieg@vt.edu

Participating Students:

Dave Griffiths                       Heath Folmsbee                      Anthony Ribaudo

dagriff2@vt.edu                   hfolmsbe@vt.edu                    aribaudo@vt.edu


Josh Leong                          Erin Lucas                               Charley Sessoms

jleong@vt.edu                     erlucas1@vt.edu                     jsessoms@vt.edu

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics


Primary Advisor: John Cotton (jcotton@vt.edu).


Optimization of an Electroactive Polymer-Actuated Robotic Arm

This arm was developed as a Senior Design project, where the students optimized the EAP robotic arm that was originally designed by the 2005 Virginia Tech robotic arm team that consisted of Steven Deso, Noah Papas, and Stephen Ros.  The composite skeleton was fabricated by the 2005 Virginia Tech team using Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM).  Artificial muscles were fabricated using polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fibers.  The PAN fibers were heat treated then saponified in sodium hydroxide to create the EAPs.  An acid bath and pump system activates the EAPs by acidifying them with hydrochloric acid.  These muscles were attached to tendons composed of braided fishing line, which also connects to the shoulder joint and cause internal rotation of the arm upon contraction of the EAP actuator. 


Primary Advisor: John Cotton (jcotton@vt.edu)

Student Team Leader:  Josh Oechslin

Participating Students:: Joseph Ash, Matthew Degner, Sara Jasin, Jordan Milford, Kevin Nash, Catherine Ross, and Brandon Shue.




The EAP-in-Action demonstrations


Demo content


Two types of new actuators will be shown:

·        contractile folded dielectric elastomer actuators;

·        buckling dielectric elastomer actuators.

Federico Carpi, Institution: University of Pisa, Interdepartmental Research Centre “E. Piaggio,” via Diotisalvi, 2 – 56100 Pisa, Italy, f.carpi@ing.unipi.it

·        Dielectric elastomer EAP demo

SRI International


·        An EPAM liquid pump based on the new Universal Muscle Actuator platform.

·        An EPAM proportional valve based on the new UMA and integrated with the new, small AMI power supply

·        Base UMA platforms of various sizes.

·        A special TBD “flashy” EPAM demonstration.

Charlie Duncheon

Acting CEO, Artificial Muscle, Inc.

(650) 331-2895, <charlie.duncheon@artificialmuscle.com>


·        Metal RubberTM Flexible Conducting Interconnects and Sensors

Jennifer Lalli and Richard O. Claus, NanoSonic, Blacksburg, VA


·        New Electroelastomers Based on Interpenetrating Polymer Networks

Soon Mok Ha, Wei Yuan, Qibing Pei, UCLA, and

Ron Pelrine, Scott Stanford, SRI International.

·        Recent soft actuators from KIT and Demo movies of  Eamex soft actuators

Keiichi Kaneto, Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT), 2-4 Hibikino, Wakamatsu-ku, Kitakyushu 808-0196, Japan

Tel:+81-93-695-6042, Fax:+81-93-695-6042,

e-mail:kaneto@life.kyutech.ac.jp, http://www.life.kyutech.ac.jp/%7Ekaneto/


Pending confirmation

A small scale demonstrator of a protagonist - antagonist system driven by dielectric EAP actuator. This machine quantitatively demonstrates the efficiency of the EAP in a working loop. This demo will also show the operation principle of the AWC robot from last year.

Gabor Kovacs,  Lab. for Strength and Technology,

Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, EMPA, Dubendorf, Switzerland


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