An attractive but little explored field of application of the shape-memory technology is the area of rotary actuators, in particular for generating endless motion. This paper presents a miniature rotary motor based on shape-memory alloy (SMA) wires and overrunning clutches, which produces high output torque and unlimited rotation. The concept features an SMA wire tightly wound around a low-friction cylindrical drum to convert wire strains into large rotations within a compact package. The seesaw motion of the drum ensuing from repeated contraction–elongation cycles of the wire is converted into unidirectional motion of the output shaft by an overrunning clutch fitted between drum and shaft. Following a design process developed in a former paper, a six-stage prototype with size envelope of 48 × 22 × 30 mm is built and tested. Diverse supply strategies are implemented to optimize either the output torque or the speed regularity of the motor with the following results: maximum torque = 20 Nmm; specific torque = 6.31 × 10−4 Nmm/mm3; rotation per module = 15 deg/cycle; and free continuous speed = 4.4 rpm.

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