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Novel active connector for modular robotic systems

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2 Author(s)
Badescu, M. ; Dept. of Mech. & Aerosp. Eng., State Univ. of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ, USA ; Mavroidis, C.

In this paper, we present a novel concept for an active connector for electrical and mechanical connection of components of a robotic or electromechanical system called active connector for robotic systems (ACOR). ACOR consists of a plug and a receptacle that contain a plurality of flexible lamellae that serve as the connection/disconnection mechanism. A shape-memory-alloy actuator is used to move the lamellae endpoint and control in this way the connector engagement and disengagement. ACOR can transmit axial and shear forces and torque. The connector can be controlled from both the plug and/or the receptacle side. So, in the case of a module failure, it can be disassembled by sending signals to its neighbors. ACOR allows fully automatic operation, manual operation, and manual and automatic emergency access from the outside. There are two novel characteristics of ACOR, compared to other active connectors found in literature. First, it allows disconnection from either side of the connection, plug or receptacle, regardless of the power situation on the other side. Second, it has a very simple design since it is composed of a very small number of parts and components. In this paper, we present, in detail, the mechanical design, the analytical models for calculation of the transmitted forces/torques, and the SMA actuator force requirements, and the experimental prototype that was built to demonstrate the concept of the connector.

Published in:

Mechatronics, IEEE/ASME Transactions on  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 3 )