small air muscle
I have been looking for alternatives for servo motors, and I stumbled apon air muscles. It seems to me air muscles are very promising
- they can do a significant amount of work compared to their size
- they are virtually indestructable
- they move smoothly in a natural manner
- they are cheap and easy to build yourself
There are probably drawbacks too, but I think there is not much you can say about it before someone has built a whole robot and see how it works out. There are two main challenges, and they are related:
- how to regulate air supply to each air muscle (electro-mechanical-pneumatical conversion)
- a feedback system with position/rotation sensors
I have done a simple test with different loads. I could do more detailed tests but the conclusion is simple: the relation between air pressure, load and displacement is a complex one. So a feedback system is really needed.
I would very much like to have some other people join this project. Before air muscles become a serious alternative a lot of work needs to be done. If you want to join, write a comment or send me a message.