Assignment 4

D. Q. Nguyen, V. A. Ho. Kinematic Evaluation of a Series of Soft Actuators in Designing an Eel-inspired Robot. 2020 IEEE/SICE International Symposium on System Integration (SII). Pages 1288-1293. January 2020. doi: 10.1109/SII46433.2020.9025926.

I have no conflicts of interest with regards to this paper or the research it discusses. I would identify myself as having somewhere between no knowledge and passing knowledge in the field relevant to this paper.

This paper discusses in-progress research that aims to create an elongated, undulating soft swimming robot capable of navigating tight spaces in coral reefs without causing damage. While other researchers are doing similar work, the research presented in this paper focuses on a robot of this form factor powered by pneumatic pulses, which appears to be a novel method for this form factor.

The researchers creating this paper provide clear diagrams and effectively justify the novelty of their work and describe the background research as well as different forms of fish locomotion (valuable to readers with weaker biological backgrounds). At the same time, though, the paper is plagued with spelling and grammatical errors, which range in effect from minor annoyances (dropping articles, for example) to mistakes that completely alter the sentence’s meaning (e.g. misspelling “silicone” as “silicon,” a distinct material with wildly different mechanical and chemical properties).

The diagrams provide helpful aids in justifying the soundness of the research and algorithms explored in the paper. Clear explanations of the design process, kinematic theory, and experiment setup and findings creates a sound paper.

The paper does discuss related and prior work, although it’s discussion might be a little light. Based on the prior work presented in the paper, the researchers demonstrate a clear gap, as all other work presented uses alternative actuation methods or form factors. Despite this, though, the background work section feels light. I am left somewhat unconvinced that this research is entirely novel.

The paper is incredibly well organized, sections flow logically and the diagrams and citations accompany content in meaningful locations. As mentioned earlier, though, spelling and grammar do illustrate some presentation issues, making sections of the paper challenging to easily understand.

This paper would benefit from two things: a more thorough discussion of related work and a heavy proofread for grammar and spelling. Perhaps more examples of related work, or examples of incredibly similar research, if it exists, and a nuanced justification of why this research is different might be helpful. And having a lab assistant proofread the paper (2 hours or less of labor) would easily solve the communication issues.

Comments to Committee: I would consider this paper a borderline case. It appears to be novel and original, and the work discussed is absolutely relevant to the field, but the paper suffers from some presentation issues and could benefit from a more thorough discussion of related work. The work appears to be a worthwhile contribution, but these issues might be too detrimental to the overall success of the paper.

Overall, I would classify this paper as a borderline case. I would not argue strongly for accepting the paper, but I am also not convinced that the paper’s flaws are enough to justify an outright rejection.

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