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Title page for ETD etd-07262010-121214

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Wait, Keith Wesley
URN etd-07262010-121214
Title The Use of Pneumatic Actuation to Address Shortcomings Concerning Normalized Output Power in State of the Art Mobile Robotics
Degree PhD
Department Mechanical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Michael Goldfarb Committee Chair
Eric J. Barth Committee Member
Nilanjan Sarkar Committee Member
Robert J. Roselli Committee Member
Robert J. Webster III Committee Member
  • pneumatics
  • walking robot
  • mobile robotics
Date of Defense 2010-07-19
Availability unrestricted
It is well known in the field of engineering that pneumatic actuation has certain advantages over electromagnetic actuation, although the latter is far more commonly fielded in both mobile and stationary devices. The aim of this project is, then, to demonstrate that using pneumatic actuation in a mobile walking robot is not only feasible, but that the benefits of the actuation type chosen are propagated to the system as a whole. In this dissertation, the state-of-the-art in mobile walking robots is thoroughly explored and compared through the use of the normalized power metrics speed (in robot body lengths per second) and payload capacity (as a percentage of the robot's body mass). The design process leading up to a pneumatically actuated quadrupedal walking robot is documented including the mechanical design of the robot's structure, the evaluation and characterization of miniature pneumatic control valves, and the development of sophisticated electronics to control operation of the robot. Additionally, a mode of position control for pneumatic actuators is studied and demonstrated to enable robust and authoritative operation of the robot's joint actuators. Finally, the robot is deployed and shown to traverse a number of different substrates and its maximum normalized power metrics are measured and compared with the state-of-the-art. These measurements show that the use of pneumatic actuation is justified as the robot exceeds almost all previously built walking devices in this measure.
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