An Elephant Proboscis-Inspired Twisting Actuator for Commercial Strawberry Picking


This project proposes an elephant proboscis-inspired actuator that exhibits an intrinsic twisting motion, mimicking the motion that a human worker uses to pick a strawberry. Elephant trunks are incredibly dexterous organs with a complex muscle structure that enables a variety of motions, including the ability to twist over a large range. This project explores how varying the internal geometry of a pneumatically actuated gripper results in a variation in the intrinsic motion of the actuator. Soft actuators offer a promising solution to challenges that automated fruit picking devices face by grasping fruit gently, preventing damage, and offering greater flexibility when it comes to developing control systems.

Additional Resources

  • Deimel, R., & Brock, O. (2016). A novel type of compliant and underactuated robotic hand for dexterous grasping. The International Journal of Robotics Research, 35(1-3), 161-185.
  • Hayashi, S., Shigematsu, K., Yamamoto, S., Kobayashi, K., Kohno, Y., Kamata, J., & Kurita, M. (2010). Evaluation of a strawberry-harvesting robot in a field test. Biosystems Engineering, 105(2), 160-171.
  • Holland, D. P., Park, E. J., Polygerinos, P., Bennett, G. J., & Walsh, C. J. (2014). The soft robotics toolkit: shared resources for research and design. Soft Robotics, 1(3), 224-230.
  • The Institute of Child Nutrition. (2016). Strawberry information sheet [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://theicn.org/resources/651/commodity-specific-fact-sheets/105763/strawberries.pdf
  • Mosadegh, B., Polygerinos, P., Keplinger, C., Wennstedt, S., Shepherd, R. F., Gupta, U., Shim, J., Bertoldi, K., Walsh, C. J., & Whitesides, G. M. (2014). Pneumatic networks for soft robotics that actuate rapidly. Advanced Functional Materials, 24(15), 2163-2170.
  • Sarig, Y. (1993). Robotics of fruit harvesting: a state-of-the-art review. Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research, 54(4), 265-280.

Meet the Researchers


Ping-Chun Chiang
Emily Lathrop
Aditya Vasan

UC San Diego Graduate Program

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