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SBIR/STTR

Pneubotics - Membrane-Based Robotics for Remote Material Handling, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

We have invented a new class of robotics, called `Pneubotics', that rival current manipulators in payload and reach at 1/10th the weight. Our technology leverages insights into lightweight materials and mass manufacturing to create robots that derive power, structure, and movement from pressurized air. As a result, drive trains, motors, bearings, shafts, sliding surfaces, and excess structural material are eliminated, leading the way for robots that exhibit extremely high strength to weight ratios, inherent human safe operation, and high degrees of freedom at comparatively low part count. This transformative new technology has the potential to enable the widespread use of automated material handling on missions beyond low earth orbit. The compliant nature of these robotic systems allows them to robustly grasp arbitrarily shaped objects and make them ideal for operating around sensitive equipment or cooperatively with humans. Similarly, due to their fluidic architecture they can be deflated and stowed for efficient transport. The work described in this phase I SBIR proposal aims to develop the key technological components that will allow the production of Pneubotic systems, including novel pressure vessel based fabric actuator design, a pneumatic power architecture that exceeds electromagnetic efficiency, and dynamic models of inflated fabric structures. These components will enable the construction of a full prototype manipulation system in phase II. More »

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Technology Maturity (TRL)

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