13-Oct-2021 | Market Research Store

The limits of soft robots guided by a confined liquid are significantly extended compared to the conventional stiff machines. But creating completely flexible robots remains a concern as most of the parts equipped in these machines are stiff. John A. Paulson, a researcher from Harvard, has designed electronically movable soft valves to manage hydraulic soft controllers. These valves could be used in therapeutic and assistive devices including bio-inspired soft grippers, soft robots, surgical robots, and other remotely handled bots.

Robert J. Wood said, a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Harvard, stated that the existing hard-ruling method significantly restrain the mobility and resilience of liquid-driven soft robots. Harry Lewis and Marlyn McGrath, the senior authors of the study, stated that the researchers have constructed lightweight and soft valves to control soft hydraulic controllers that open the potential for future fluidic soft robots to perform delicate functions.

Since no one has attained the flow rates or pressure required by most of the existing hydraulic controllers. To slash these limits, the team manufactured new electrically charged dynamic elastomer actuators. These soft controllers are lightweight, can run for hundreds of thousands of cycles, and deliver ultrahigh-power density. The researchers connected these novel actuators with a soft channel, which resulted in a fluidic control through the soft valve.

The first author of the paper, Siyi Xu, explicated that the swift reaction time of these soft valves helps inefficiently controlling the flow rates and liquid pressure to match the requirement of the hydraulic controllers. These valves are equipped with swift macro-and small-range hydraulic controllers with internal volume scaling from hundreds of microliters to tens of milliliters.

By using dielectric elastomer actuators in soft valves, the researchers revealed how these hydraulic controllers regulate the flow of different volumes by being managed through one pressure point. Siyi Xu said that this lightweight and compact valve embedded with multiple dielectric elastomer actuators has rare electrical control of hydraulic controllers, showing the possibility of soft fluid-driven robots for regulating motion in the near future.

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