FLEX Conference Pass
Electrostatic actuators provide the means for locomoting soft robots without compromising the robot’s flexibility. In particular, hydraulically amplified self-healing electrostatic actuators (HASELs) can provide performance and efficiency comparable to human muscles all without any rigid components. While the actuators themselves are entirely flexible, they do require kilovolts of electricity to operate. This requirement generally leads to big, rigid circuitry that can preclude leveraging the HASELs inherent flexibility in untethered soft robotic applications. In this work, we provide a flexible circuit board that can be mounted directly atop a HASEL for its control, as well as flexible circuit boards for power distribution and computation using commercially available parts. These flexible circuit boards increase the ability to utilize the actuator’s inherent continuum mechanics, but they do not provide a pure flexible system. So, in addition to providing the means for manufacturing high voltage, compact flexible circuit boards tailored for HASEL control, we also show how an entirely flexible high voltage transistor can be made, and the performances that it can facilitate. This work paves the way for entirely flexible robots using HASEL artificial muscles, but also provides an intermediate step that can be easily adopted by researchers to create a soft robot on the macro-scale.