Power for robotic artificial muscles
Anderson, I., Ieropoulos, I., McKay, T. and Melhuish, C. (2011) Power for robotic artificial muscles. IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 16 (1). pp. 107-111. ISSN 1083-4435
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/TMECH.2010.2090894
Artiﬁcial muscles based on the dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) are an attractive technology for autonomous robotic systems. We are currently exploring their use on EcoBot, an autonomous robot being developed by Bristol Robotics Lab that uses microbial fuel cells (MFCs).DEAwill provide actuators for fuel cell maintenance and other goals and will increase active mission time through greater mechanical efﬁciency and reduced mass. Artiﬁcial muscles use high voltages and running them normally requires voltage converters to boost the voltage on delivered charge several hundred times. A dielectric elastomer generator when used with a recently developed self-priming circuit (SPC) can supply the high-voltage power directly to artiﬁcial muscle systems. The SPC can also be started using an initial low-voltage charge from another energy harvester such as a bank ofMFCs or a solar cell array. This combination could lead to a completely autonomous power source for robotic artiﬁcial muscles. We demonstrate a proof-of-concept portable self-primed DEG for harvesting wind energy from moving tree branches.
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