A hydraulic drive is a method of providing movement to a robot manipulator.It uses a special hydraulic fluid, usually oil-based, to transfer forces to various joints, telescoping sections, and end effectors.

The hydraulic drive consists of a power supply, one or more motors, a set of pistons and valves, and a feedback loop. The valves and pistons control the movement of the hydraulic fluid. Because the hydraulic fluid is practically incompressible, it is possible to generate large mechanical forces over small surface areas, or, conversely, to position large-area pistons with extreme accuracy. The feedback loop consists of one or more force sensors that provide error correction and ensure that the manipulator follows its intended path.

Hydraulically driven manipulators are used when motions must be rapid, precise, and repeated numerous times. Hydraulic systems are also noted for the ability to impart considerable force, so they are good for applications involving heavy lifting or the application of large amounts of pressure or torque. In addition, hydraulically driven robot manipulators resist unwanted movement in the presence of external forces.


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