Pouch Motors: Printable/inflatable soft actuators for robotics

TitlePouch Motors: Printable/inflatable soft actuators for robotics
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsNiiyama, R.., D.. Rus, and S. Kim
Conference NameRobotics and Automation (ICRA), 2014 IEEE International Conference on
Date PublishedMay
KeywordsActuators, antagonistic actuation, Bonding, fluidic soft actuators, Force, gas-tight bladders, heat bonding, heat stamping technique, Heating, inflatable soft actuators, legged locomotion, legged walking robot, linear pouch motor, mass manufacturing, moment-angle relationships, parallel gripper, pressure control, printable actuators, Printing, robotic arm, Robots, rotational pouch motor, self-contained miniature pneumatic system, sheet materials

We propose a new family of fluidic soft actuators called Pouch Motors. The pouch motors are developed to create printable actuators for enhancing mass-fabrication of robots from sheet materials using easily accessible tools. The pouch motor consists of one or more gas-tight bladders (called pouches) fabricated by heat bonding. We developed two types of actuators from inflatable pouches: the linear pouch motor and the rotational pouch motor. Our theoretical analysis predicts the static force-length and moment-angle relationships of these actuators under pressure control. We compare the theoretical bounds with actual results achieved using several fabricated devices. We developed a fabrication process of pouch motors using a heat stamping technique that allows mass-manufacturing. We also demonstrate three robot bodies with embedded pouch motors: a parallel gripper, a robotic arm with antagonistic actuation, and legged walking robot with a self-contained miniature pneumatic system.