The Ohio State University Corporate Engagement Office

Back to All Technologies

Variable stiffness robotic arm via layer jamming

College
College of Engineering (COE)
Researchers
Su, Haijun
Hurd, Carter
Pei, Xu
Licensing Manager
Zinn, Ryan
614-292-5212
zinn.7@osu.edu

TS-036965 — A novel design for a robotic arm that mitigates injury risk due to human-robot collisions and does not sacrifice performance, which allows better integration of robotics into the workforce.

Robotics have evolved to perform many tasks in healthcare, automobile manufacturing, consumer product manufacturing, and defense applications. As the integration of robotics into the workforce increases, many industries seek human-safe designs (1) that optimize the performance of the robot and (2)…

The Need

Robotics have evolved to perform many tasks in healthcare, automobile manufacturing, consumer product manufacturing, and defense applications. As the integration of robotics into the workforce increases, many industries seek human-safe designs (1) that optimize the performance of the robot and (2) allow a single robot to perform various tasks.

    The Technology

    Researchers at The Ohio State University, led by Haijun Su, have developed a layer jamming mechanism for robotic arms to vary stiffness during runtime. The technology utilizes two parallel columns composed of interlocking flexure hinges inside a vacuum-sealed bag. When the vacuum pump is activated, the flexure hinges lock, and the arm becomes rigid. The pressure within the bag is controlled to vary the stiffness.

    Commercial Applications

    This technology could be used to develop human-safe robotics for:

    • Automobile manufacturing
    • Robot-assisted surgery
    • Consumer product manufacturing
    • Food handling in agricultural settings

    Benefits/Advantages

    • Stiffness can be varied to handle delicate objects and lift large loads
    • Allows a single machine to perform the duties of soft and rigid robots
    • Mitigates the risk of injury due to human-robot collisions and optimizes the performance of the robot