FlowIO platform – a kinder, gentler pneumatic arm

Meet the winners of the 2021 Hackaday Awards

The big winner of the Hackaday Award for 2021 is the FlowIO Platform, a modular pneumatic controller for soft robotics and smart materials projects described as “like a Lego set for tires!” The main module of the FlowIO platform has five pneumatic channels that can be connected to pumps, valves, actuators and sensors to easily design a pneumatic system that is flexible in multiple ways.

When making soft robots or wearable electronics, stepper motors and other traditional components are often not appropriate to install as they may be uncomfortable to carry or may cause additional wear of the associated soft components. On the other hand, the tire is designed to be flexible, however the systems are also expensive and difficult to operate. This new project offers a way to use pneumatic pressure cheaply and efficiently in your designs, so you don’t have to resort to mechanical components to achieve what you intend.

Other big winners include an open source companion robot based on the M5Stack M5Stack modular development platform called Stack-Chan that you can customize for a large number of tasks. There’s also a flexible flag-like wind generator that includes variable wind-activated capacitors to generate electricity when the wind blows hard enough that the folded polyester foils can blow in the wind.

Fourth place went to a handy addition to the tools of amateur scientists, who still wouldn’t want a Raspberry Pi spectrometer? Last but not least, of the top five awards goes to a team that has developed a way to recover and use plastic waste in 3D printing called Direct Granules Extruder. They modified the 3D printer to accept ground waste plastic as the printing material. Check it out and more by following the link.

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Naveen Kumar

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