A dielectric elastomer is able to act as an actuator when subjected to an electric field. However, the allowable deformation of dielectric elastomer actuators is severely limited by the material failures. To extend the actuation range, this letter investigates a network of two interconnected dielectric elastomer balloon actuators, each prestretched by the high internal pressure and independently actuated by the applied voltages. We propose a novel concept of realizable actuation space, defined as a set consisting of all the states of the balloons that do not suffer any material failures, to characterize the actuation performance of the system. The simulation results demonstrate that the balloon network greatly improves the actuation capability of each balloon, compared with a single balloon actuator. Several factors that exert effects on the realizable actuation space are discussed, such as the initial internal pressure, ambient pressure, and radius ratio of the two balloons. Further, we also generalize the network to multiple balloon actuators, which span an extremely large actuation and control space.
- networked robots
- Soft material robotics