"Electriflow" Creations Breathe Life into Soft Robotics


Project leader Purnendu and his colleagues at CU Boulder went to the Association for Computing Machinery's 2021 Designing Interactive Systems and presented their research results- calling their new moveable constructions "Electriflow".

The aim of the project is to make traditional mechanisms come to life, for example, making artificial rose petals feel like real ones. One way in which they manage this is because the mechanisms don't need motors or typical machine features, and take inspiration from previously developed 'artificial muscles' by Christoph Keplinger at CU Boulder. Hydraulically Amplified Self- Healing Electrostatic Actuators power themselves through fluids that move oil around closed plastic pockets rather than the usual hard metal approach. They mirror the natural behaviours of predator and prey alike to function in the same ways they do and alter their shape.

“Electrostatic Actuators power themselves through fluids that move oil around closed plastic pockets “

Eric Acome, who assisted in the actuator innovation, said, "One of the main benefits of these actuators is that they're versatile. They're just pouches, but depending on the shape of that pouch, you can generate different kinds of movement."

Purnendu, a graduate student at CU Boulder, took the basic concept of the actuator Artimus Robotics instead of using the new concept for robotics and fluid, mobile artwork. Electriflow uses different shapes of plastic pouches to create folds in the sheets similar to that of origami. Purnendu's managed to get these 'robots' to move incredibly quickly, with some insects moving their wings at 25 beats per second, faster than some butterflies. More creatives can use the concept in art and design and leave possibilities for mobile storybooks with this technology.

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