In this paper, the design and testing of a novel valve for the intuitive spatial control of soft or continuum manipulators are presented. The design of the valve is based on the style of a hydraulic flapper valve, but with simultaneous control of three pressure feed points, which can be used to drive three antagonistically arranged hydraulic actuators for positioning soft robots. The variable control orifices are arranged in a rotationally symmetric radial pattern to allow for an inline mounting configuration of the valve within the body of a manipulator. Positioning the valve ring at various 3D configurations results in different pressurizations of the actuators and corresponding spatial configurations of the manipulator. The design of the valve is suitable for miniaturization and use in applications with size constraints such as small soft manipulators and surgical robotics. Experimental validation showed that the performance of the valve can be reasonably modeled and can effectively drive an antagonistic arrangement of three actuators for soft manipulator control.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: The APC was funded by the G.A. Taft Endowment, Stout University Foundation.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Flapper valve
- Hydraulic valve
- Soft robotics