Foldable Joints for Foldable Robots

Cynthia Sung, Daniela Rus

International Symposium on Experimental Robotics (ISER 2014)

Abstract: Print-and-fold manufacturing has the potential to democratize access to robots with robots that are easier to fabricate using materials that are easier to procure. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding about how motion can be achieved by folding hinders the scope of print-and-fold robots. While hinge joints can easily be included in folded structures, joints with other degrees of freedom have yet to be designed. In this paper, we show how all the basic joints used in robots can be constructed using print-and-fold. Our patterns are parameterized so that users not only get the desired degrees of freedom but can also specify the joint's range of motion. The joints can be combined with each other to achieve higher degrees of freedom or with rigid bodies to produce foldable linkages. We folded several of our basic and combined joints, as well as a composed foldable mechanisms. We also add actuation and control circuitry to our joints and mechanisms, showing that it possible to create a print-and fold robot with many dierent kinematics using a uniform process.