Electrostatic Adhesion May be Key to Lighter Exoskeletons

Bulky exoskeletons are closer to becoming things of the past.

7. 1. 16 by Jelor Gallego
Steve Collins
Image by Steve Collins

Exoskeletons might become common in everyday life. If you’re worried about bulky and heavy suits, you might not have to worry about that. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have developed an exoskeleton clutch mechanism that barely weighs anything.

The Electroadhesive Clutch relies on electrostatic adhesion between specially coated electrode sheets to control spring movement. Their paper describes a  lightweight, low-power clutch used to control spring engagement in an ankle exoskeleton.

A pair of clutches weight only 0.05 ounces, and uses up to 750 times less power than other existing models. Compared to other clutches, it has three times as much torque density.

The good thing about this is that hundreds of individually controlled clutches could actually be used in a single skeleton, thus creating a better exo without driving weight and power consumption through the roof.

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We may all just be strutting ourselves in one of these bad boys sometime soon.


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