To date, the industries that have been the driving forces of actuator technologies have demanded actuators that are precise, power-dense, fast, small, and cheap.

We face new motivations for actuator design: life-like fluid motion, quiet, continuous control, and compelling, safe and meaningful tactile interactions. To these ends, we are developing actuators that capitalize on certain prior developments, while improving upon them to better suit interactive robot demands. Specifically, we are sacrificing high precision for smoothness and quality of motion, while achieving power and torque densities that are suitable for driving mobile robots.

The goal of this project is to create voice coil-type electromagnetic actuators, with integrated position, velocity and force sensing means. Voice coils are silent, have only one moving part, are naturally smooth and linear, are very robust, have reasonable force and power densities, and are relatively inexpensive.