Pneumatic artificial muscle (PAM) is a class of flexible muscle-like actuator with low structure weight and high power density. In this paper, an integrated PAM design is presented, which incorporates peripheral elements, especially the control valves, in the interior space of the actuator to reduce the size and complexity of the entire system. More importantly, the incorporated components are expected to largely eliminate the dead volume in the PAM actuator, and improve its energy efficiency. An energy consumption analysis is presented, which estimates the maximum percentage of achievable energy savings. A practical design, incorporating standard poppet valves is also presented. To demonstrate the energy saving effect of the proposed design, experiments were conducted with a commercial PAM actuator modified to incorporate a solid bar. Experimental results indicate an energy savings of up to 13%, which is expected to increase significantly with the custom-made integrated PAM actuators in the future.

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