CCEFP’s First Summit on Human Scale Fluid Power Research Influences Robotics Manufacturing

Achievement date: 

A research Summit dedicated to human scale fluid power inspired four universities and six companies in industry to join the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) USA Institute. All participants are affiliated with the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) – a graduated National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) headquartered at the University of Minnesota – which hosted the event held at Vanderbilt University.


Many robotics applications require the power density of fluid power in order to improve their performance. In the case of human scale robotics, fluid power actuation technology can more efficiently and effectively power applications that enhance workers’ capabilities, restore mobility, or provide therapy. Yet the awareness of fluid power’s potential as an actuation technology for robotics has been both slow and minimal across academia and industry. The CCEFP Summit bridges this gap.

By collectively joining ARM, CCEFP and its partners will speed the movement of industrial robots into commercial use, making them more affordable for businesses of all sizes and more adaptable for many uses. Government, industry and academic leaders assert that this new generation of human scale fluid powered robotics has the potential to create large numbers of new jobs and fuel economic growth by putting the U.S. squarely in the lead on advanced manufacturing.


CCEFP’s first Summit meeting for industry and academic partners took place in 2016 at Vanderbilt University. More than twenty company representatives attended, confirming that there is strong interest and support for further development of human scale fluid power research.

Applications in robotics were especially highlighted. CCEFP Deputy Director Eric Barth offered a persuasive presentation to robotics researchers at Carnegie Mellon University addressing the need for fluid power actuation technology for human scale robotics. At the close of the event, participants collectively decided to partner en masse with a major robotics research initiative and the ARM Institute was identified as an appropriate fit.

In January 2017, the ARM Institute was founded at Carnegie Mellon University; within a year, it began operating as an independent nonprofit, securing more than $250 million in grants from state and local governments, industry, universities, community colleges, non-profit organizations and the U.S. Department of Defense. The ARM Institute’s mission is to become the leading catalyst of robotics innovation and expertise to accelerate growth in U.S.-based manufacturing and high value careers. A collaborative ecosystem of like-minded organizations, ARM is an affiliate of the Manufacturing USA institute network and joins more than 120 members and partners in industry, academia, technology, government and economic development groups.