Parallel continuum robots can provide compact, compliant manipulation of tools in robotic surgery and larger-scale human robot interaction. In this paper we address stiffness control of parallel continuum robots using a general nonlinear kinetostatic modeling framework based on Cosserat rods. We use a model formulation that estimates the applied end-effector force and pose using actuator force measurements. An integral control approach then modifies the commanded target position based on the desired stiffness behavior and the estimated force and position. We then use low-level position control of the actuators to achieve the modified target position. Experimental results show that after calibration of a single model parameter, the proposed approach achieves accurate stiffness control in various directions and poses.

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