Published April 29, 2022 | Version v1
Book chapter Open

A Review on Vacuum-Powered Fluidic Actuators in Soft Robotics

  • 1. ROR icon Italian Institute of Technology
  • 2. Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia


In the past few years, vacuum-powered soft actuators have shown strong potential due to their promising mechanical performance (i.e., fail-safe, fast response, compactness, robustness, jamming, etc.). Indeed, they have been widely exploited in soft robots, for example, grippers and manipulators, wearable devices, locomotion robots, etc. In contrast to inflatable fluidic actuators, the properties of the materials with which they are built have a stronger influence on the kinematic trajectory. For this reason, understanding, both, the geometry and morphology of the core structure, and the material characteristics, is crucial to achieving the desired kinetics and kinematics. In this work, an overview of vacuum-powered soft fluidic actuators is provided, by classifying them as based on morphological design, origami architecture, and structural instability. A variety of constitutive materials and design principles are described and discussed. Strategies for designing vacuum-powered actuators are outlined from a mechanical perspective. Then the main materials and fabrication processes are described, and the most promising approaches are highlighted. Finally, the open challenges for enabling highly deformable and strong soft vacuum-powered actuation are discussed.



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