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An Overview of Novel Actuators for Soft Robotics

Mechanics and Maritime Sciences Department, Chalmers University of Technology, 41296 Gothenburg, Sweden
Mechanical Engineering Department, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul 34437, Turkey
Institut fur Montagetechnik (match), Leibniz Universität Hannover, 30823 Garbsen, Hannover, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Actuators 2018, 7(3), 48;
Received: 10 June 2018 / Revised: 24 July 2018 / Accepted: 9 August 2018 / Published: 16 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotic Actuators)
PDF [2121 KB, uploaded 16 August 2018]


In this systematic survey, an overview of non-conventional actuators particularly used in soft-robotics is presented. The review is performed by using well-defined performance criteria with a direction to identify the exemplary and potential applications. In addition to this, initial guidelines to compare the performance and applicability of these novel actuators are provided. The meta-analysis is restricted to five main types of actuators: shape memory alloys (SMAs), fluidic elastomer actuators (FEAs), shape morphing polymers (SMPs), dielectric electro-activated polymers (DEAPs), and magnetic/electro-magnetic actuators (E/MAs). In exploring and comparing the capabilities of these actuators, the focus was on eight different aspects: compliance, topology-geometry, scalability-complexity, energy efficiency, operation range, modality, controllability, and technological readiness level (TRL). The overview presented here provides a state-of-the-art summary of the advancements and can help researchers to select the most convenient soft actuators using the comprehensive comparison of the suggested quantitative and qualitative criteria. View Full-Text
Keywords: soft-robotics; actuator performance; SMA; SMP; FEA; DEAP; E/MA soft-robotics; actuator performance; SMA; SMP; FEA; DEAP; E/MA

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Boyraz, P.; Runge, G.; Raatz, A. An Overview of Novel Actuators for Soft Robotics. Actuators 2018, 7, 48.

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