The Relation Between Hydraulics and Robotics

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The Relation Between Hydraulics and Robotics

Whether it is for a new generation or old, robotics is always an exciting industry that creates wonders. The utilization of various robots in different industries is emerging day-by-day. The appearance, way of operation, ability to handle various tasks, integration of artificial intelligence, and many other features of robotics have always made the public curious. Robotics will amaze us by integrating different computer-programmed controls, power sources, mechanics, and more. Usually, most of the robots available will have a movable body and they will be able to handle the task precisely. The movement of the robot is possible with numerous movable segments connected or with motorized wheels. The movable segments in robots will act as bones in the human body that assist the robot to move.

How is hydraulics related to robotics? Every machinery requires an external power for operation. If we consider robots, it can be powered by using hydraulics, pneumatics, or electric actuators. Robots conventionally use electric actuators and these less expensive actuators will assist robots in handling lightweight operations smoothly. But, the hydraulic/pneumatic actuators in robots are mainly used when it is required to perform heavy lifting operations in harsh environments. The fluid power actuators can also perform all tasks that an electric actuator will provide.

Here, we intend to detail more about hydraulic robots; the robot category that relies on the hydraulic mechanism for movement and other operations. Here, an external power source is used for powering the hydraulic system. When the pump is powered, the fluid from the reservoir is pressurized and transmitted to other hydraulic components in the system. The flow path of pressurized fluid is determined by various hydraulic valves installed in the circuit. The computer controls integrated with the circuit will manage the opening and closing of the valve. The hydraulic actuators located at the robot joints will create the desired movement for robots.

What are the benefits of using hydraulics in robots? Hydraulics for robotic applications can generate linear motion and this will minimize shock/vibration. The hydraulic pump and related machines are placed remotely, and it reduces the overall size and weight of the robots. The hydraulic robots can be used for very high torque applications. Other benefits of using hydraulic technology are high power to mass ratio, high stiffness, high torque generation at minimum speed, accurate controls, etc…

When considering the animatronics in the Jurassic Park series, the Dinosaurs can be considered as a movable hydraulic robot. The bipedal humanoid robot ATLAS designed for search and rescue tasks and developed by Boston Dynamics in 2013 also uses hydraulics.  The hydraulic robots for the construction industry can operate in harsh conditions for loading & unloading of heavy loads. SAM100 and MULE135 are two popular categories of construction robots used for bricklaying and material lifting respectively.

More facts on Robot ATLAS

The six feet tall humanoid robot ATLAS is powered by electric power and a complex hydraulic system. This robot, shaped like a human has two legs, two arms, a torso, and a head. Robot ATLAS can perform functions like walking, climbing, jumping, carrying things, opening doors, and picking up boxes.

The electrically powered and hydraulically actuated ATLAS robot contains different components like hydraulic power unit(HPU), custom motors, valves, sensors, and more. The ATLAS robot contains 26 hydraulically actuated joints and operating these joints with pressurized hydraulic oil will provide mobility to the robot. The sensors integrated will identify the obstacles in the path and protect the robot from damage.

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