Director of Engineering Artimus Robotics, CO, United States
The burgeoning field of soft robotics uses synthetic systems to replicate the remarkable performance of biological organisms found in nature. Such robots would offer a degree of adaptability and versatility not yet seen in traditional machines; however, ubiquitous adoption of these new machines requires soft actuators that match the well-rounded and robust characteristics of natural muscle. Towards this endeavor, Artimus Robotics has commercialized hydraulically amplified self-healing electrostatic (HASEL) actuators, a new soft actuation platform that offers muscle-mimetic performance, a high degree of customization, as well as built-in sensing capabilities. These actuators consist of a pair of flexible electrodes that partially cover a pouch of dielectric film that is filled with a dielectric fluid. Upon application of voltage, the electrodes squeeze together, thereby pressurizing and displacing the dielectric fluid to the region of the pouch not covered by electrodes. This local redistribution of fluid results in an overall shape change of the soft structure that can be tailored to a achieve a variety of actuation modes like contraction, expansion, and rotation. This actuation platform opens new opportunities for robotic components within industries spanning industrial automation, human-machine interfaces, as well as medical devices. However, commercialization of this technology requires an interdisciplinary approach that meets at the intersection between mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as materials science, while addressing challenges of market adoption. This presentation will highlight the capabilities of HASEL actuators, current and future applications of the technology, as well as the hurdles of commercializing soft robotic architectures.