Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering, PhD

Committee Chair

Harnett, Cindy

Committee Member

Naber, John

Committee Member

Inanc, Tamer

Committee Member

Lauf, Adrian

Author's Keywords

Soft robotics modular technologies; OptiGap sensor system in robotics; SCRAMs in soft robotics; thermally-activated SCRAM limb (TASL) technology; EneGate modular actuation control; shape-memory alloy in soft robotics


This dissertation explores the development and integration of modular technologies in soft robotics, with a focus on the OptiGap sensor system. OptiGap serves as a simple, flexible, cost-effective solution for real-time sensing of bending and deformation, validated through simulation and experimentation. Working as part of an emerging category of soft robotics called Soft, Curved, Reconfigurable, Anisotropic Mechanisms, or SCRAMs, this research also introduces the Thermally-Activated SCRAM Limb (TASL) technology, which employs shape-memory alloy (SMA) wire embedded in curved sheets for surface actuation and served as the initial inspiration for OptiGap. In addition, the EneGate system is presented as a complementary technology that aims to provide modular actuation control and sensing in soft robotic applications. Designed to integrate seamlessly with thermal actuators and OptiGap sensors, EneGate utilizes a custom communication protocol to achieve a high degree of modularity. This dissertation demonstrates how these technologies collectively contribute to a more flexible, scalable, and adaptable future for soft robotics. It goes into the design specifics, communication protocols, and potential applications, offering a comprehensive modular solution for both sensing and control in soft robotics.