Pneumatic Reel Actuator

Zachary M. Hammond, Nathan S. Usevitch, Elliot W. Hawkes, Sean Follmer

High extension pneumatic actuator for linear actuator robotics.

A pneumatic reel actuator in its fully retracted state and its fully extended state.

The pneumatic reel actuator is a highly extensible linear actuator that is also lightweight, capable of operating in compression and tension, compliant, and inexpensive. An initial prototype of the pneumatic reel actuator can reach extension ratios greater than 16:1, has a force-to-weight ratio over 28:1, reach speeds of 0.87 meters per second, and can be constructed with parts totaling less than $4 USD. We have developed a model describing the actuator and have conducted experiments characterizing the actuator’s performance in regards to force, extension, pressure, and speed. We have implemented two parallel robotic applications in the form of a three degree of freedom robot arm and a tetrahedral robot.