Soft robotics has emerged as a transformative field, leveraging bio-inspired novel actuation mechanisms to enable more adaptable, compliant, and sophisticated robotic systems. However, the portability of soft pneumatic actuators is typically constrained by the tethering to bulky power sources. This review offers a thorough analysis of autonomous power alternatives facilitated by chemical reactions for gas generation and absorption, a concept analogous to biological energy conversion processes. These bio-inspired strategies propel soft pneumatic actuators towards new horizons of autonomy and portability, essential for real-world applications. This comprehensive review explores the critical intersection of gas evolution reactions (GERs) and gas consumption reactions (GCRs) as a power source for pneumatic actuation in soft robotics. We here emphasize the importance and impact of bio-inspired design, control, efficiency, safety, and sustainability within soft robotics to not only mimic biological motions but to enhance them. This review explores the fundamentals of both pneumatic and chemically powered actuation, highlighting the need for careful consideration of reaction kinetics. Additionally, this work highlights key aspects of smart materials that draw from biological structures and response mechanisms, along with state-of-the-art techniques for precise pressure modulation. Finally, we chart prospective development pathways and provide a future outlook for bio-inspired soft robotics, emphasizing the transformative impact of integrating chemical actuation methods. This exploration underlines the quest for further autonomy in soft robotic systems and points towards the future opportunities in this exciting and fast-developing field.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages14
JournalSoft Science
Issue number2769-5441
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • Soft robotics
  • chemistry
  • pneumatic actuation
  • design
  • chemical power source
  • oscillating systems
  • Chemical reactions for soft robotics
  • Chemically driven pneumatic actuation


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