Minimal Actuation for a Flat Actuated Flexible Manifold

Oded Medina, Amir Shapiro, Nir Shvalb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The fabrication of a multiactuator mechanism requires excessive wiring that may become the design's bottleneck. We introduce a novel actuation method for an actuated flexible manifold (AFM). The AFM is a 2-D surface embedded in ℝ2 or ℝ3. The AFM shape can theoretically be manipulated into any continuous smooth function. The mechanism possesses dozens of degrees of freedom (DOF). However, an applicable AFM would require thousands or even an infinite number of DOF (for the continuous case). This paper addresses the need to aggressively reduce the number of inputs. To exemplify our optimization, we introduce an algorithm for the forward kinematics and the inverse kinematics for such mechanisms. We then present a periodic actuation method, which enables input reduction to its peripheral inputs alone. We show how a 40-DOF AFM can make the most of its capabilities, while the number of inputs substantially drops. To exemplify our results, we have fabricated an AFM as a grid using shape memory alloy artificial muscle wire. Our input method may simplify the fabrication process, reduce the mechanism's overall weight, and improve the actuation performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7484833
Pages (from-to)698-706
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Flexible robots
  • Nitinol
  • multiactuators
  • shape memory alloy


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