A serious problem with using electrical actuators in legged locomotion is the significant energy loss. For this reason, we propose and analyse an alternative means of actuation: Controlled Passive Actuation. Controlled Passive Actuation aims at reducing the energy flow through electric actuators by actuating with a combination of an energy storage element and a Continuously Variable Transmission.
In this work, we present a method where we apply a Continuously Variable Transmission with a storage element in the form of a mass to change the state of another mass (“the load”). An abstraction layer is created to abstract the inertia-driven Controlled Passive Actuation to a source of effort, a force actuator. On this abstracted system, feedback control can be applied to achieve control goals such as path tracking.
With simulations and experiments, we show that inertia-driven Controlled Passive Actuation can be used to control the state of an (inertial) load. The experimental results show that the performance of the system is affected by the internal dynamics and limited rate of change of the transmission ratio of the Continuously Variable Transmission.