Energy efficient dielectric elastomer actuators for artificial muscles

We aim to develop ‘artificial muscles’ for robots using dielectric elastomer actuators.

These actuators are made from soft polymers coated with compliant electrodes and are actuated by placing a voltage across the electrodes. Soft structures can achieve complex movements and are more adaptable than traditional rigid arrangements.

Energy efficiency

Another benefit of these actuators is their use of energy. Although operated at high voltages the current they use is very small, resulting in low energy consumption.

Energy efficiency is a large obstacle in the path to developing robots that can achieve everything we would like of them. Therefore this project additionally seeks to improve actuator efficiency by employing charge recovery. The basic idea is to recycle the energy from one actuator by transferring it to another and using it again. This should help make dielectric elastomers even more attractive when it comes to energy efficiency.


This project also has links with the Ecobot project. The low energy technologies go hand in hand, as conventional actuators would drain a large amount of the generated energy.

We are hoping to develop actuated structures such as fluid delivery tubes, pumps and fuel cells that could be used on board the robot as part of its digestive system.

Back to Soft Robotics

Theme Leader

Soft robotics team

  • Prof Jonathan Rossiter
  • Dr Andrew Conn
  • Dr Helmut Hauser
  • Dr Tim Helps
  • Dr Majid Taghavi
  • Dr Hemma Philamore
  • Mr Andrew Hinitt
  • Mr Plinio Rodrigues De Oliveira Zanini
  • Mr Aaron Fishman
  • Miss Keren Yue
  • Mr Djen Kühnel
  • Mr Martin Garrad
  • Mr Gabor Soter
  • Mr Krishna Manaswi Digumarti
  • Mr Rujie Sun
  • Mr Chongjing Cao
  • Mr Yiheng Zhu
  • Mr Michael Dicker

International collaborators

Page last updated 12 May 2016