An important part of the Navy objectives is to be both more efficient and enable manpower reduction is to reduce maintenance, reduce manpower, and eliminate pollutants through creating a more all-electric ship environment. However, placement of both non-centralized and centralized hydraulic systems for control of heavy machinery, large bay doors, articulated systems such as rudders for controlling air flow to the skirt system (such as in Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) is extremely challenging. At the base of the design approach to a Mechatronic Motion System is the fact that such applications do not require high precision. What is required is that the actuator delivers sufficient thrust power without increasing the existing actuator weight and be a self-contained unit. To address this need, QorTek and PSU have been developing a new concept of an entirely new kind of motion system actuator that has few parts, enormous thrust capability for its compact size, and is amenable to affordable manufacture. The new Quadrature Mechatronic Actuator (QMA) is a hydraulic replacement that will match hydraulic force-displacement capabilities in a fully solid-state design. Quadrature Mechatronic Actuators will look very similar to the existing hydraulic actuators currently used on LCAC. These compact self-contained units represent a one-for-one substitute for existing equipment. The Mechatronic Actuator itself will be lighter and slightly smaller than its hydraulic actuator equivalent and use one or more internal hybrid solid-state drivers that are internally coupled to a linear translator.
Recent advances in electroactive polymers including high field induced strain, high elastic energy density (~1 J/cm3), and relatively high energy conversion efficiency, approaching those of natural muscles, create new opportunities for many applications. Harvesting electric energy from mechanical sources such as a soldier during walking is one such example. Several electroactive polymers developed recently are briefly reviewed. The paper further presents analysis on the key steps in achieving energy harvesting effectively. It is shown that one may make use of smart electronics to modify the electric boundary conditions in the electroactive polymers during the energy harvesting cycle to realize higher energy conversion efficiency in the systems compared with the efficiency of the material itself. Due to the fact that the energy density of the electromagnetic based energy harvesting devices scales with the square root of the device volume, the paper shows that the electroactive polymers based energy harvesting devices exhibit higher energy density and therefore are more suitable for this application.