Abstract

The limitations of the current generation of robotic systems has triggered a new research thrust for predicting the elastodynamic response of assemblages of articulating flexible-bodied systems. This research thrust is extended herein by proposing the fabrication of robotic systems in either monolithic or ultra-advanced composite laminated high-strength, high-stiffness materials in which are incorporated electrorheological fluids. These multi-phase fluid systems, which change their rheological behavior instantaneously when subjected to an externally applied electrical field, provide a potential for tailoring the vibrational characteristics of these hybrid materials from which the structural members of the proposed robotic systems are fabricated.

This paper is focused on developing the necessary design tools for predicting the vibrational response of flexible multibodied articulating systems fabricated with this new class of advanced materials. A variational theorem is developed herein as a basis for finite element formulations which can be employed to predict the elastodynamic response of these systems. A coherent combination of experimental and theoretical work on cantilevered beams is presented to demonstrate the viability of the proposed design methodology. In addition, computer simulation results are presented to demonstrate the potential payoffs in terms of superior performance characteristics of a new generation of robotic systems capitalizing on this innovative and revolutionary design philosophy.

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