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Compliant polymeric actuators as robot drive units

Caldwell, Darwin Gordon


Darwin Gordon Caldwell


Paul M., 1951 Taylor


A co-polymer made from Polyvinyl Alcohol and Polyacrylic Acid (PVA-PAA) has been synthesized to form new robotic actuation systems which use the contractile and variable compliance properties of this material. The stimulation of these fibres is studied (particularly chemical activation using acetone and water), as are the factors which influence the response, especially those relating to its performance as an artificial muscle.

Mathematical models and simulations of the dynamics of the polymeric strips have been developed, permitting a thorough analysis of the performance determining parameters. Using these models a control strategy has been designed and implemented, with experimental results being obtained for a gripper powered by a flexor/extensor pair formed using these polymeric actuators.

An investigation of a second property of the polymer, its variable compliance is also included. Use of this feature has lead to the design, construction and testing of a multi degree-of-freedom dextrous hand, which despite having only a single actuator, can exercise independent control over each joint.


Caldwell, D. G. (1989). Compliant polymeric actuators as robot drive units. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 21, 2015
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Electronic engineering
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Electronic Engineering, The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 1989


Thesis (11.9 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1989 Caldwell, Darwin Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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