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Towards efficient elastic actuation in bio-inspired robotics using dielectric elastomer artificial muscles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Early online date15 Jul 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Jul 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 15 Jul 2019


In nature, animals reduce their cost of transport by utilizing elastic energy recovery. Emerging soft robotic technologies such as dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) offer an advantage in achieving biomimetic energy efficient locomotion thanks to their high actuation strain and inherent elasticity. In this work, we conduct a comprehensive study on the feasibility of using antagonistic DEA artificial muscles for bio-inspired robotics. We adopt a double cone DEA configuration and develop a mathematical model to characterize its dynamic electromechanical response. It is demonstrated that this DEA design can be optimized in terms of the maximum work output by adjusting the strut height design parameter. Using this optimized design, we analyse the power/stroke output and the electromechanical efficiency of the DEA and show how these actuation characteristics can be maximized for different payload conditions, excitation frequencies and actuation waveforms. The elastic energy recovery from the DEA is then demonstrated by reducing the duty ratio of the actuation signal and thus allowing the stored elastic energy in the DEA membranes to contribute to the work output. A bio-inspired three-segment leg prototype driven by the same actuator is presented to demonstrate that the same energy recovery principle is feasible for bio-inspired robotics.



  • Cao+et+al_2019_Smart_Mater._Struct._10.1088_1361-665X_ab326b

    Rights statement: Manuscript version: Accepted Manuscript Accepted Manuscript is “the version of the article accepted for publication including all changes made as a result of the peer review process, and which may also include the addition to the article by IOP Publishing of a header, an article ID, a cover sheet and/or an ‘Accepted Manuscript’ watermark, but excluding any other editing, typesetting or other changes made by IOP Publishing and/or its licensors”

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    Embargo ends: 15/07/20

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    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND


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