FlowIO Platform – A Kinder, Gentler Pneumatic Hand

Source: Hackaday FlowIO Platform – A Kinder, Gentler Pneumatic Hand

Meet The 2021 Hackaday Prize Winners

The Grand Winner of the 2021 Hackaday Prize is the FlowIO Platform, a modular pneumatics controller for soft robotics and smart material projects which is described as “like a Lego set for pneumatics!”  The main module of the FlowIO Platform has five pneumatic channels which can connect to pumps, valves, actuators, and sensors to let you easily design a pneumatic system which is flexible in more ways than one.

When you are making soft robots or wearable electronics, step motors and other traditional components are often not appropriate to incorporate as they can be uncomfortable to wear or could cause extra wear on connected soft components.  Pneumatics on the other hand, are designed to be flexible however the systems also tend to be expensive and hard to work with.  This new project offers a way to cheaply and effectively use pneumatic pressure in your designs so you don’t have to resort to mechanical components to achieve what you intend.

The other big winners include an open-source companion robot based on the ESP32 powered M5Stack modular IoT development platform called Stack-Chan which you can custom program for a large amount of tasks.  There is also a flag-like flexible wind generator which incorporates wind-activated variable capacitors to generate electricity when the wind blows strong enough for the folded polyester films to blow in the wind. 

Fourth place went to an handy addition to the toolkit of amateur scientists, who wouldn’t want a Raspberry Pi Spectrometer after all?  Last, but not least of the top five prizes goes to a team which developed a way to reclaim and make use of plastic waste in 3D printing called the Direct Granules Extruder.  They modified a 3D printer to accept ground up waste plastic as the material it prints with.  Check out those and more by following the link.

We tend to think of robots in terms of rigid frames with electric actuators. FlowIO Platform aims to change that thinking, and kickstart a design revolution in wearables, collaborative robots, and just about any task where a softer, gentler robot would be useful.

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About The Author

Jeremy Hellstrom

Call it K7M.com, AMDMB.com, or PC Perspective, Jeremy has been hanging out and then working with the gang here for years. Apart from the front page you might find him on the BOINC Forums or possibly the Fraggin' Frogs if he has the time.

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