Jamming is a structural phenomenon that provides robotic systems with components that transition between soft and stiff mechanical states, and with tunable dynamic response. A jamming structure consists of a collection of elements which can be exposed to a pressure gradient (e.g., vacuum or electrostatic potential). This increases kinematic and frictional coupling between the constituents which result in orders-of-magnitude changes in mechanical damping and stiffness.
Jamming structures increase the application range of soft and articulated robots by introducing capabilities such transitioning between soft and rigid states, as well as shape locking, controlled frequency and damping responses, and tunable overload prevention. There has been a growing interest in using jamming to achieve variable impedance for robotics applications, with over 500 publications in the last few years. Roboticists have used jamming to build devices from tunable-stiffness grippers to tunable-damping landing gear. This tutorial will cover the fundamentals of the design, modeling and fabrication of jamming structures, and present a variety of application areas, such as manipulation, surgical instrumentation, rehabilitation, and haptics.
Arianna Menciassi, Scuola Superiore Sant’ Anna, Pisa
Robert D. Howe, Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences