Besides eliminating the hydraulic control valves, the new system architecture as well as the control schemes are simplified with the new technology. Possibilities of reducing the required cooling power are also possible due to lower heat generation at the fluid level. Moreover, in some applications, there is a possibility for reducing the engine power, since the new technology lends itself to hybridization by capturing available kinetic or potential energy and storing it for later use.
Now that researchers have shown they can achieve fuel efficiency with the technology, the next step will be to develop control algorithms for a smarter machine. "For example, the principle of virtual sensing will be investigated such that all critical states of the machine are made available for monitoring purposes," he said. "Also, the controller will be designed to robustly deal with varying operating conditions, uncertainties, disturbances, and such. Furthermore, failsafe backup solutions will be provided to meet the standard safety requirements."
The technology is ripe for commercialization, since the required components are already in mass production. "If a balanced business case analysis is performed, the new technology should be comparable in cost" to the old technology. And even if it costs are higher initially to manufacture the system, they should balance out within a few years, and the total cost of ownership over the life of the machine should be less.
The Maha Fluid Power Research Center is part of the Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and participating companies and universities.
An interesting idea. There would be less plumbing; fewer hoses to dry out, seals to fail and losses from the hoses flexing during actuation. I wonder if there is a weight benefit from the reduced plumbing too.
Unlike industrial robots, which suffered a slight overall slump in 2012, service robots continue to be increasingly in demand. The majority are used for defense, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); and agriculture, such as milking robots.
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