Soft robots for extreme environments: Removing electronic control

Stephen T. Mahon, Anthony Buchoux, Mohammed E. Sayed, Lijun Teng, Adam A. Stokes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The ignition of flammable liquids and gases in offshore oil and gas environments is a major risk and can cause loss of life, serious injury, and significant damage to infrastructure. Power supplies that are used to provide regulated voltages to drive motors, relays, and power electronic controls can produce heat and cause sparks. As a result, the European Union requires ATEX certification on electrical equipment to ensure safety in such extreme environments. Implementing designs that meet this standard is time-consuming and adds to the cost of operations. Soft robots are often made with soft materials and can be actuated pneumatically, without electronics, making these systems inherently compliant with this directive. In this paper, we aim to increase the capability of new soft robotic systems moving from a one-to-one control-actuator architecture and implementing an electronics-free control system. We have developed a robot that demonstrates locomotion and gripping using three-pneumatic lines: a vacuum power line, a control input, and a clock line. We have followed the design principles of digital electronics and demonstrated an integrated fluidic circuit with eleven, fully integrated fluidic switches and six actuators. We have realized the basic building blocks of logical operation into combinational logic and memory using our fluidic switches to create a two-state automata machine. This system expands on the state of the art increasing the complexity over existing soft systems with integrated control.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoboSoft 2019 - 2019 IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781538692608
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2019
Event2019 IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics, RoboSoft 2019 - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 14 Apr 201918 Apr 2019


Conference2019 IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics, RoboSoft 2019
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of


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