Experimental evaluation of a miniature haptic actuator based on electrorheological fluids


Haptic feedback is desired for numerous applications including simulators, teleoperations, entertainment and more. While many devices today feature vibrotactile feedback, most do not provide kinesthetic feedback. To address the need for both vibrotactile and kinesthetic feedback, this study investigates the use of electrorheological (ER) fluids for their tunable viscosity under electrical stimulation. A prototype device containing ER fluid was designed and fabricated. The device operates based on pressure-driven flow of the fluid between charged plates due to user interaction with the touch contact surface. The prototype was tested using a dynamic mechanical analyzer to measure the actuator’s resistive force with respect to indentation depth for a range of applied voltages and frequencies. The results indicate that increasing the applied voltage causes an increase in the force produced by the actuator. Varying the supplied signal over a range of voltages and frequencies can convey a range of force and vibrational feedback. This range is sufficient to transmit distinct haptic sensations to human operators and demonstrates the design’s capability to transmit remote or virtual touch feedback conditions.

Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems XII