Fluidic Control for Soft Robotic Systems in Extreme Environments
The ignition of flammable liquids and gases in offshore oil and gas environments is a major risk and can cause loss of life, serious injury, and significant damage to infrastructure. Power supplies that are used to provide regulated voltages to drive motors, relays, and power electronic controls can produce heat and cause sparks. As a result, the European Union requires ATEX certification on electrical equipment to ensure safety in such extreme environments. Implementing designs that meet this standard is time-consuming and adds to the cost of operations.
Soft robots are an exciting new class of robotic systems and are often made with soft materials and can be actuated pneumatically, without electronics, making these systems inherently compliant with this directive.
In this project, the successful candidate will work to increase the capability of new soft robotic systems moving from a one-to-one control-actuator architecture and—uniquely— by implementing an electronics-free control system using fluidics.