FIRSTwiki The FIRST Robotics encyclopedia


Pneumatics is a system in which pressurized gases (air in the case of FIRST), are used to move actuators such as cylinders or rotary actuators.


  • Force and speed are both infinitely adjustable later without any part changes (via regulator and flow valve adjustments)
  • Natural linear motion, making interfacing with structure simple (no rotational motion conversion required)
  • Very high direct forces possible (up to 188 lbs) without any mechanical reduction (higher forces possible with external mechanical advantage)
  • New action/release possible after end of round
  • Continued force possible after end of round
  • Stallable forever without draining battery, action continues whenever resistance ends
  • Servo positioning control possible (with feedback sensor and proper valving)
  • Plug-in tubing makes routing, changes, and providing small amounts of work in odd places simple
  • Very useful for: device deployment/actuation, doors, gates, releases, parking lockup, alternate drive/wheel swapping, vacuum generation, and gearbox switching


  • Large initial weight cost

  • Routing hoses can be difficult
  • Total power/energy output is less than that achievable with motors
  • Frequent use will drop air pressure faster than the compressor can raise it, resulting in a severe performance drop.

External Resources