This paper is concerned with the application of fluid power in autonomous robotics where high power density and energy efficiency are key requirements. A hydraulic drive for a bioinspired quadruped robot leg is studied. The performance of a classical valve-controlled (“resistive-type”) and of an energy saving (“switching-control mode”) hydraulic actuation system are compared. After describing the bio-inspired leg design and prototyping, models for both drives are developed and energy efficiency assessments are carried out. It is shown through simulation that the switching-control mode hydraulic actuation can meet the challenge of legged robotic locomotion in terms of energy efficiency with respect to improving robot power-autonomy. An energy saving of about 75% is achieved. Limitations of the current system are identified and suggestions for improvements are outlined.

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