This paper describes the design and control of a compact and flexible pneumatic artificial muscle (PAM) actuation system for bio-robotic systems. The entire paper is divided into two parts, with the first part covering the mechanism design and the second part covering the corresponding controller design. This novel system presented in this part incorporates two new features, including a variable-radius pulley based PAM actuation mechanism, and a spring-return mechanism to replace the PAM in the “weak” direction. With the pulley radius as a function of the joint angle, this new feature enables the designer to freely modulate the shape of the torque curve, and thus achieves a significantly higher flexibility than the traditional configuration. The other new feature, the spring-return mechanism, is inspired by the fact that a large number of bio-robotic systems require a significantly larger torque in one direction than the other.

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