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This paper describes the design of a power supply and actuation system appropriate for position or force controlled human-scale robots. The proposed approach utilizes a liquid monopropellant to generate hot gas, which is utilized to power a pneumatic-type actuation system. A prototype of the actuation system is described, and closed-loop tracking data are shown, which demonstrate good motion control. Experiments to characterize the energetic performance of a six-degree-of-freedom actuation system indicate that the proposed system with a diluted propellant offers an energetic figure of merit five times greater than battery-powered DC motors. Projections based on these experiments indicate that the same system powered by undiluted propellant would offer an energetic figure of merit in an order of magnitude greater than a comparable battery-powered DC motor actuated system.
Date of Publication: June 2003