I went on a little search on my university library database, and found a review paper. I'm not sure if you can access it without paying.
Active rotor control for helicopters: individual blade control and swashplateless rotor designs by Ch. Kessler. Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13272-011-0001-0
There, I extracted three sources relevant to your question:
- Kretz, M.: Research in multicyclic and active control of rotary
wings. Vertica 1(2), 95–105 (1976)
- Guinn, K.F.: Individual blade control independent of a swashplate.
J. AHS 27(3), 25–31 (1982)
- Arnold, U.T.P., Fuerst, D., Neuheuser, T., Bartels, R.: Development
of an integrated electrical swashplateless primary and
individual blade control system. In: 32nd ERF, Maastricht, The
Netherlands, September 12–14, 2006
If you're lucky, you can find a way to access these papers - however, my university didn't seem to have subscriptions to the relevant journals (either way, they weren't in the database).
In all these papers, the main motivation was to reduce vibrations caused by aeroelastic effects. This means that the interaction between blade elasticity and airflow causes unwanted vibrations which cannot be solved by a swashplate, since a swashplate can only actuate frequencies at the number of blades times the RPM. Friction from the swashplate configuration is of minor importance. A swashplate is generally just a set of ball bearings, which have the nice property that the forces on them are always at a right angle, i.e. a centripetal force which does not cause energy losses. The only energy loss is due to rolling friction, which is extremely small (I found friction coefficients of 0.005 in a paper on lubrications) for properly designed bearings. All in all, very minor compared to the massive power needed to lift a helicopter up.
Note that electronic actuators are not particularly efficient in all situations. (following part revised to clear up some confusion:) Imagine lifting a heavy box off a high shelf. Even though strictly speaking, you're doing negative work on the box, you still feel tired afterwards because for human muscles and (simple) electric actuators alike, it costs energy to apply a force. In other words, an electric motor also has to provide the negative work on a system, unless there are energy recovery systems integrated. This was actually proposed in one paper to overcome overheating issues. Furthermore, for a constant force (no work), a constant current flow is still needed in an electronic actuator.
Perhaps I best quote Kessler in his conclusion (shortened):
Individual blade control can alleviate a lot of typical
• reduce the cabin vibration by 80% or even more,
• reduce component loads and power required, [...]
That is the good news. And now the bad:
About 58 years of research and development on HHC and
IBC have passed by. And no helicopter is equipped with
such a system. [...] But even for
customers it might be difficult to see an advantage of IBC
and a payback. [...] An IBC system would surely
raise the purchase price.[...] On the other side,
designs get more and more complex, the swashplateless
concepts are the far end of this complexity. It should be
questioned if this is still reasonable. The advice would be,
‘‘make one step after the other; do not try to do two at the