Vacuum-powered soft pneumatic twisting actuators to empower new capabilities for soft robots

Zhongdong Jiao, Chen Ji, Jun Zou, Huayong Yang, Min Pan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (SciVal)


Vacuum-powered soft pneumatic actuators (V-SPAs) are a promising enabling technology for a wide range of emerging applications, including artificial muscles, programmable locomotion, and flexible grippers. This is due to their flexible deformation, clean power supply, safe interaction with users, and high reliability compared with alternative actuators. A new vacuum-powered soft pneumatic twisting actuator (V-SPTA) is designed, which has a single seamless chamber and is completely soft, with no rigid frames. The actuator has two degrees of freedom (DoFs) and offers the advantages of diverse functions, ease of manufacture, high load capability, and is cost efficient. Their potential to achieve linear, twisting, and radial movements is shown by employing different combinations of V-SPTAs. The feasibility of the V-SPTA is demonstrated using prototypes based on flexible joint and wrist, rotating crawling robot, pipe-climbing robot, and V-SPTAs-driven car. The V-SPTA successfully enhances the capability of existing V-SPAs by providing an important additional DoF. The work therefore expands the capability of soft robots while minimizing the complexity of actuator design and reducing the manufacturing cost.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1800429
JournalAdvanced Materials Technologies
Issue number1
Early online date29 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • pneumatic actuation
  • soft actuators
  • soft robots
  • twisting actuators
  • vacuum-powered

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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