ROBOTICS TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND DEPLOYMENT[RTD2] (R43)
Small Business Information
VECNA TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
36 Cambridgepark Drive, Cambridge, MA, -
AbstractMobile robotics and advanced prosthetics will likely play important roles in the future of the human race. Yet, most existing mobile robots have neither the strength nor speed necessary to be effective laborers. The problem is that current robot muscles suffer from poor specific power, which can be thought of as the muscle"s strength speed/weight. The specific power of a muscle determines how quickly work can be done compared to another muscle of the same weight. A novel hydraulic muscle or"actuator"is presented in this proposal. Preliminary work shows that its specific power far exceeds that of existing actuators suitable for use in mobile robotics, while simultaneously achieving"Better than Biology"results in the other key metrics. While conventional hydraulics technology suffers from poor efficiency, noisy operation, high cost, and maintenance challenges, recent work at Vecna is showing that these challenges can be overcome. An early prototype actuator has been built and tested; this prototype shows great promise for exceeding the performance of biological muscle. Additionally, it will be highly scalable, inexpensive, efficient, silent, low cost, and easy to maintain due to its unique design. The main focus of this research will be on design and testing of a series of prototype actuators based on mathematical analysis, simulation, materials selection, and analysis of manufacturing approaches. Preliminary control policies will be developed. Each design will be evaluated against the performance metrics of in situ natural muscle as described in existing literature. They will also be compared to the performance of competing man-made actuators. As the human race begins to work in close collaboration with robots, they will expect the robots to be stronger, faster, have better endurance, be more precise, and cost less than other options. They will expect robots to quickly and efficiently carry out their assigned physical labors. Vecna hopes to contribute to the realization of this goal through the creation of high-performance artificial muscles that will be practical for use in mobile robotics and prosthetics. Better muscles can help us to achieve a better world.
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