Reduction of Power Consumption for Fluidic Soft Robots Using Energy Recovery Technique

Abstract

Power-efficient fluidic driven system is beneficial to extending the working time of autonomous and wearable soft robots supplied by independent power sources such as batteries. In this paper, an energy recovery scheme is proposed to reutilize the pressurized air released by retracting pneumatic soft actuators instead of venting to atmosphere. The scheme’s novelty lies in an air accumulator employed to store the recovered energy and boost the inlet pressure of air pumps when there is requirement. Then the energy-saving principle is described based on the comparison of energy flow between the systems with and without energy recovery. Residual pressure, recoverable energy and parametric effect are also presented analytically according to the ideal gas law. Finally, simulation models are developed to evaluate the system performance and the results show that about 20% reduction of power consumption and acceptable residual pressure can be achieved simultaneously when the accumulator volume is three times of the actuator volume, which provides reference to further prototype development. Index Terms – Soft robotics, fluidic driven system, energy recovery, parameter design, air accumulator.

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