Series elastic actuators (SEAs) have many benefits for force controlled robotic applications. Placing an elastic member in series with a rigid actuator output enables more-stable force control and the potential for energy storage while sacrificing position control bandwidth. This paper presents the design and measurement error analysis of a low-friction, lightweight linear SEA used in the Shipboard Autonomous Fire Fighting Robot (SAFFiR). The SAFFiR SEA pairs a stand-alone linear actuator with a configurable compliant member. Unlike most electric linear actuators, this actuator does not use a linear guide, which reduces friction and weight. Unlike other SEAs which measure the force by measuring the spring deflection, a tension and compression load cell is integrated into the design for accurate force measurements. The configurable compliant member is a titanium cantilever with manually adjustable length. The final SEA weighs 0.82[kg] with a maximum force of 1,000[N]. The configurable compliant mechanism has in a spring constant range of 145–512[kN/m]. Having no linear guide and incorporating the load cell into the universal joint both introduce measurement errors. The length error across a parallel ankle joint is less than 0.015[mm] and the force measurement error is less than 0.25% of the actual force. Finally, several changes are suggested for the next iteration of the SEA to improve its usability on future robots.

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