What is it about?

Soft actuators have advantages over traditional rigid robots in various applications due to their robustness, low mechanical stiffness, and low weight. Thus far, conventional rigid valves are the most common approach to control hydraulic soft actuators. Although soft valves have been designed in various forms, they have not achieved the pressure or flow rate conditions as required by many existing hydraulic actuators. In this paper, we introduce an electrically-driven soft valve using dynamic dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs). These soft valves have a fast response time and are able to control fluidic pressure and flow rates that match the needs of hydraulic actuators with meso-scale channels. The DEA valves open up possibilities for soft on-board controls for future fluidic soft robots

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Why is it important?

Regulation systems for fluid-driven soft robots predominantly consist of inflexible and bulky components. These rigid structures considerably limit the adaptability and mobility of these robots. In this work, we introduce an electrically powered dynamic valve for hydraulic soft actuators. This compact and lightweight DEA valve is capable of unprecedented electrical control of hydraulic actuators, showing the potential for future on-board motion control of soft fluid-driven robots.

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This page is a summary of: A dynamic electrically driven soft valve for control of soft hydraulic actuators, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2103198118.
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