Electroactive Polymer Actuators for Unmanned Vehicles
Navy SBIR FY2018.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2018.1
Topic No.: N181-032
Topic Title: Electroactive Polymer Actuators for Unmanned Vehicles
Proposal No.: N181-032-1120
Firm: Mainstream Engineering Corporation
200 Yellow Place
Pines Industrial Center
Rockledge, Florida 32955
Contact: Justin Hill
Phone: (321) 631-3550
Web Site: http://www.mainstream-engr.com
Abstract: Unmanned undersea and surface vehicles must be comprised of equipment that can endure the strenuous conditions present in the ocean environment. This may include high shocks caused by battering of ocean waves and intense pressures. Both can cause detrimental damage to moving parts and mechanical equipment, in particular small scale and delicate motor parts present in unmanned systems, and may result in a significantly shortened operation lifetime. One possible remedy exists in the form of electroactive polymers, which typically have the benefit of high elasticity and long lifetime, as well as the added benefit of ionic or electric conductivity. As a result of their unique properties, they have been of great interest in recent years for a wide variety of potential applications such as in artificial muscles and soft robotics. Mainstream proposes a compact design for a rotary electroactive polymer based actuator designed for unmanned undersea and surface vehicles (UxV) suitable for use in seawater environments. The chosen electroactive polymer and unique high surface area electrode components will ensure the low power consumption requirements, while the miniaturization and reduction of mechanical parts will reduce likelihood of damage from shock found in ocean surface environments.
Benefits: The primary significance of this effort is the utilization of electroactive polymer (EAP) composite actuators as control or propulsion devices for a rotary actuator in ocean environments. The completion of this task will result in improved actuation of EAP devices as the ultimate goal is a small scale, lightweight, low power consumption, and robust rotary actuator. Completing this task will bring about advancements in the application of these EAP devices to a variety of functional control equipment and actuators, energy harvesters, and artificial muscles.