Dr. Zhang has developed a flow regulator that is light and small enough to be built into every actuator. The micro pinch value specifically controls the cross-section area of the flow channel according to the voltage applied to it. The flow regulator reduces the number of tubes typically needed for fluid-driven soft robots and reduces need for sealing components. It also simplifies design to actuator pressure supply, resolving the scalability problem of fluid powered robots. The embeddable component facilitates onboard control and modularity to enable soft robots to have many degrees of freedom of motion. Increased degrees of freedom of motion equips soft robots the capability to preform complex tasks.
Primary uses for soft robotics are within medicine and agriculture. Benefits of using the flow regulator include augmented capabilities of agricultural robots to enhance safe co-working among human labor and increased efficiencies of careful handling of soft crops.
Rendering of the micro pinch valve
Onboard controls for the micro pinch valve
Modularity enabling many degrees of freedom