MechE Colloquium: Softer Faster Better Stronger: Elastomer Actuators


Event details

Date and time 15.12.2020 12:1513:15  
Place and room
Speaker Prof. Herbert Shea, Soft Transducers Laboratory, EPFL School of Engineering (STI), Institute of Microengineering (IMT)
Category Conferences - Seminars
Our research at EPFL-LMTS centers on mm- to cm-scale elastomer-based actuators driven by electrostatic forces. Using examples from our work in soft robotics and wearable haptics, I will illustrate how we have addressed several key limitations of directly electrically-driven soft actuators, including obtaining high forces (16 N holding force from a 1 g device), high speeds (5 kHz), complex motion, and reducing drive voltage to 300 V, a level at which we can use SMD components for very compact control electronics. This enabled us to make fast untethered soft robots, robust yet sub-mm thick wearable haptic interfaces, high-force textile clutches for VR gloves, and compliant grippers able to delicately manipulate fruit and vegetables. Our ongoing work is aimed at embedding intelligence into these soft machines.

Herb Shea is a professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where he leads the Soft Transducers Lab (EPFL-LMTS). His research is centered on elastomer-based actuators for wearable haptics and for soft robotics. He is the president of the EuroEAP Society since 2018. Herb holds a PhD in physics from Harvard University (1997), and worked for 7 years at IBM Research and Bell Labs prior to joining EPFL in 2004.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free



MechE Colloquium: Softer Faster Better Stronger: Elastomer Actuators