[2022-Vol.19-Issue 1]Load-dependent Variable Gearing Mechanism of Muscle-like Soft Actuator
Post: 2022-03-10 14:34  View:219

Journal of Bionic Engineering (2022) 19:29–43 

Load?dependent Variable Gearing Mechanism of Muscle-like Soft Actuator 

Yingjie Wang1,2 · Chunbao Liu1,2 · Luquan Ren2  · Lei Ren2,3 

1 School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Jilin University, Changchun 130022, China
2 Key Laboratory of Bionic Engineering, Ministry of Education, Jilin University, Changchun 130022, China
3 School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK

Abstract  Pennate muscle is characterized by muscle fbers that are oriented at a certain angle (pennation angle) relative to the muscle’s line of action and rotation during contraction. This fber rotation amplifes the shortening velocity of muscle, to match loading conditions without any control system. This unique variable gearing mechanism, which characterized by Architecture Gear Ratio (AGR), is involves complex interaction among three key elements: muscle fbers, connective tissue, and the pennation angle. However, how three elements determine the AGR of muscle-like actuator is still unknown. This study introduces a Himisk actuator that arranges fve contractile units at a certain pennation angle in a fexible matrix, the experiment and simulation results demonstrated that the proposed actuator could vary AGR automatically in response to variable loading conditions. Based on this actuator, we present a series of actuators by simulations with the varying pennation angle (P), elastic modulus of the fexible matrix (E), and number of contractile units (N) to analyze their efects on AGR, and their interaction by three-factor analysis of variance. The results demonstrated that P and N efect on the AGR signifcantly, while E efects on AGR slightly, which supported the idea that the P is the essential factor for the AGR, and N is also an important factor due to the capability of force generation. This provides a better understanding of mechanical behavior and an efective optimizing strategy to muscle-like soft actuator. 

Keywords  Bioinspired · Actuator · Pennate muscle · Gearing mechanism


Structure of the skeletal muscle and soft actuator. a Contraction of a unipennate muscle and the architectural gear ratio measured. b Muscle as a composite, hierarchical structure [23]. C Soft actuators of PA30-Matrix, PA30-NoMatrix, and PA0-Matrix

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