Special Issue "Pneumatic Actuators for Robotics and Automation"

A special issue of Actuators (ISSN 2076-0825).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Alessio Merola
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Università degli studi Magna Graecia di Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy
Interests: biomechatronics; human-robot interaction control; soft robotics; biomimetic actuators; nonlinear systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the Special Issue “Pneumatic Actuators for Robotics and Automation” to be published in Actuators (Scopus CiteScoreTM 2018: 2.80, rank Q1 in "Control and Optimization").

Pneumatic actuation is a valuable and preferred alternative adopted in several control and automation systems for manufacturing and logistic processes, as well as for bio-robotic applications. Pneumatics as the main motion power source offers some important advantages in terms of a low weight-to-power ratio and safety; the latter is most relevant to the emerging field of cooperative robotics where a controlled and safe interaction between a human operator and pneumatic robot, other than the soft manipulation of delicate objects, can be guaranteed.

The Special Issue covers both theoretical and experimental challenges involved in the design, realization, and control of pneumatic actuators for all relevant applications of robotics, automation, and control engineering.

Dr. Alessio Merola
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Actuators is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Pneumatic actuation
  • Pneumatic control systems
  • Fluidic actuators
  • Soft robotics
  • Compliant actuators

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Design and Control of an Inflatable Spherical Robotic Arm for Pick and Place Applications
Actuators 2021, 10(11), 299; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10110299 - 11 Nov 2021
Viewed by 274
Abstract
We present an inflatable soft robotic arm made of fabric that leverages state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, leading to a robust and reliable manipulator. Three bellow-type actuators are used to control two rotational degrees of freedom, as well as the joint stiffness that is coupled [...] Read more.
We present an inflatable soft robotic arm made of fabric that leverages state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, leading to a robust and reliable manipulator. Three bellow-type actuators are used to control two rotational degrees of freedom, as well as the joint stiffness that is coupled to a longitudinal elongation of the movable link used to grasp objects. The design is motivated by a safety analysis based on first principles. It shows that the interaction forces during an unexpected collision are primarily caused by the attached payload mass, but can be reduced by a lightweight design of the robot arm. A control allocation strategy is employed that simplifies the modeling and control of the robot arm and we show that a particular property of the allocation strategy ensures equal usage of the actuators and valves. The modeling and control approach systematically incorporates the effect of changing joint stiffness and the presence of a payload mass. An investigation of the valve flow capacity reveals that a proper timescale separation between the pressure and arm dynamics is only given for sufficient flow capacity. Otherwise, the applied cascaded control approach can introduce oscillatory behavior, degrading the overall control performance. A closed form feed forward strategy is derived that compensates errors induced by the longitudinal elongation of the movable link and allows the realization of different object manipulation applications. In one of the applications, the robot arm hands an object over to a human, emphasizing the safety aspect of the soft robotic system. Thereby, the intrinsic compliance of the robot arm is leveraged to detect the time when the robot should release the object. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pneumatic Actuators for Robotics and Automation)
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Article
Machine-Knitted Seamless Pneumatic Actuators for Soft Robotics: Design, Fabrication, and Characterization
Actuators 2021, 10(5), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10050094 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1440
Abstract
Computerized machine knitting offers an attractive fabrication technology for incorporating wearable assistive devices into garments. In this work, we utilized, for the first time, whole-garment knitting techniques to manufacture a seamless fully knitted pneumatic bending actuator, which represents an advancement to existing cut-and-sew [...] Read more.
Computerized machine knitting offers an attractive fabrication technology for incorporating wearable assistive devices into garments. In this work, we utilized, for the first time, whole-garment knitting techniques to manufacture a seamless fully knitted pneumatic bending actuator, which represents an advancement to existing cut-and-sew manufacturing techniques. Various machine knitting parameters were investigated to create anisotropic actuator structures, which exhibited a range of bending and extension motions when pressurized with air. The functionality of the actuator was demonstrated through integration into an assistive glove for hand grip action. The achieved curvature range when pressurizing the actuators up to 150 kPa was sufficient to grasp objects down to 3 cm in diameter and up to 125 g in weight. This manufacturing technique is rapid and scalable, paving the way for mass-production of customizable soft robotics wearables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pneumatic Actuators for Robotics and Automation)
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Article
An Adaptive Neuro-Fuzzy Control of Pneumatic Mechanical Ventilator
Actuators 2021, 10(3), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10030051 - 06 Mar 2021
Viewed by 913
Abstract
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It mainly affects the respiratory system and can lead to the death of the patient. The motivation for this study was the current pandemic situation and general deficiency of emergency mechanical ventilators. The [...] Read more.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It mainly affects the respiratory system and can lead to the death of the patient. The motivation for this study was the current pandemic situation and general deficiency of emergency mechanical ventilators. The paper presents the development of a mechanical ventilator and its control algorithm. The main feature of the developed mechanical ventilator is AmbuBag compressed by a pneumatic actuator. The control algorithm is based on an adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system (ANFIS), which integrates both neural networks and fuzzy logic principles. Mechanical design and hardware design are presented in the paper. Subsequently, there is a description of the process of data collecting and training of the fuzzy controller. The paper also presents a simulation model for verification of the designed control approach. The experimental results provide the verification of the designed control system. The novelty of the paper is, on the one hand, an implementation of the ANFIS controller for AmbuBag pressure control, with a description of training process. On other hand, the paper presents a novel design of a mechanical ventilator, with a detailed description of the hardware and control system. The last contribution of the paper lies in the mathematical and experimental description of AmbuBag for ventilation purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pneumatic Actuators for Robotics and Automation)
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Article
Control of Rotary Inverted Pendulum by Using On–Off Type of Cold Gas Thrusters
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040095 - 27 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2364
Abstract
This article describes the control of a rotary inverted pendulum utilizing on–off-type cold gas thrusters as the actuators, which have high similarities with thruster actuated spacecrafts with slosh dynamics. The study is completed in three phases. Firstly, a Pulse Width Modulator (PWM) design [...] Read more.
This article describes the control of a rotary inverted pendulum utilizing on–off-type cold gas thrusters as the actuators, which have high similarities with thruster actuated spacecrafts with slosh dynamics. The study is completed in three phases. Firstly, a Pulse Width Modulator (PWM) design method is utilized to obtain quasi-linear thrust output from the on–off-type thrusters. Then, a single axis angle controller is designed and tested on the setup along with the PWM scheme. Finally, a pendulum is connected to the other end of the platform and a rotary inverted pendulum (Furuta Pendulum) is constructed. In this way, an inherently unstable, under-actuated, on–off driven system is obtained. For the swing-up motion of the pendulum, an energy-based method is employed. Balancing of the pendulum is achieved by an observer-based state feedback controller under small angle assumption and quasi-linear outputs from the PWM driven thrusters. All of these control methodologies are realized on a real-time target machine. The pendulum is stabilized in seven seconds after five swings, which is comparable to the systems with electric motors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pneumatic Actuators for Robotics and Automation)
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Article
A Miniature 3D Printed On-Off Linear Pneumatic Actuator and Its Demonstration into a Cartoon Character of a Hopping Lamp
Actuators 2019, 8(4), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/act8040072 - 17 Oct 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3881
Abstract
Although 3D printing has been extensively used to create passive machines and mechanisms, 3D printing of actuators is a relatively new concept. 3D printing of actuators allows greater customization, accelerates the design and development, and consequently saves time and money. We present the [...] Read more.
Although 3D printing has been extensively used to create passive machines and mechanisms, 3D printing of actuators is a relatively new concept. 3D printing of actuators allows greater customization, accelerates the design and development, and consequently saves time and money. We present the design and fabrication of a 3D printed, miniature size, double-acting, On-Off type, linear pneumatic actuator. The actuator has an overall length of 8 cm, a bore size of 1.5 cm, and a stroke length of 2.0 cm. The overall weight is 12 gm and it generates a peak output power of 2 W when operating at an input air pressure of 40 psi ( 275.79 kPa). This paper demonstrates novel methods to solve the challenges that arise during fabrication that include: (1) chemical post-processing to achieve airtight sealing and a smooth surface finish, (2) strategic placement of a metallic part within 3D printed plastic for higher strength, (3) design of an airtight seal between the cylinder and piston head, (4) chemical bonding of printed parts using adhesive, and (5) use of a lubricant to reduce friction and improve force generation. The power-to-weight ratio of our actuator is comparable to that of high-end commercial actuators of similar size. The utility of the actuator is demonstrated in a series of jumping experiments with the actuator and by incorporating the actuator into a hopping robot inspired by Disney/Pixar Luxo lamp. We conclude that 3D printed pneumatic actuators combine the high power of pneumatics with the low weight of plastics, and structural strength through the selective placement of metal parts, thus offering a promising actuator for robotic applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pneumatic Actuators for Robotics and Automation)
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