A New Year is knocking at the door, so our thoughts naturally turn to the future. These aren’t the run-of-the-mill musings of the average man on the street, though. No, we’re about to look into a special crystal ball, one that conveys images of a brighter, more productive engineering future. That being the case, just what forecasts can be made about future innovations in hydraulic systems?
Reducing The Environmental Impact
Engineering designers worry about the growth of the hydraulic equipment market. Granted, it’s always good to have more business, but an increase in fluid-based machinery also equals a heightened environmental threat. A large oil-filled reservoir feeds numerous hoses and actuators, at least that’s how the system operates traditionally. Some out-of-the-box thinkers are currently working to change this standardized configuration. By investing resources into the design of a new type of hydraulic actuation architecture, many of these leak-prone hoses will be removed from the equipment.
Inventing the Personalized Exoskeleton
When the actuators and hoses are reduced in dimensions, new possibilities are realized. In terms of mobile hydraulic equipment, there may be a new and exciting development on the horizon. Personal exoskeletons are man-sized frames. They imbue an operator with great strength, but only if the frame is powered by a compact hydraulic equipment package. Early models of this innovative wearable are already being tested in South Korea and Japan. Used to carry heavy loads, an individual operator gains augmented mechanical strength when he’s dressed in this equipment.
Invading Traditionally Electrical Domains
Hydraulic and pneumatic force transmission solutions already rule several hazardous industrial applications. Potentially combustible atmospheres simply cannot afford an electrical spark, so these actuated devices work via fluid power. However, what with the greener oils and smaller actuator profiles coming down the pipe, future mechanical systems may be powered solely by fluid energy. Powerful electrical motors will fade away while electrical currents are left to energize advanced sensors and microprocessors.
Improvements in Fluid Characteristics
Highly responsive mobile diggers and their equally quick-reacting crane cousins are revolutionizing the industry. Expect more of this reactance-based technology in the years to come. Precision-cued closed-loop feedback circuits are already proving the truth of this statement. In point of fact, the robotics industry can’t be pushed much further until these fast-response actuators are properly developed. Once they do enter the field, however, expect a new generation of fluid-moving robot limbs.
All while the exoskeletons and robotic frames develop, mobile hydraulic form factors will also evolve. The innovative engineering solutions are set to increase the efficiency of large-frame cranes and diggers. Paired with ever finer alloys, improved actuator interfaces, hybridized powertrains, and super-accurate electronic sensors, the future is bright for the hydraulics sector.
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