Series Elastic Actuators (SEAs) have several benefits for force controlled robotic applications. Typical SEAs place an elastic element between the motor and the load, increasing shock tolerance, allowing for more accurate and stable force control, and creating the potential for energy storage. This paper presents the design of a compact, lightweight, low-friction, electromechanical linear SEA used in the lower body of the Tactical Hazardous Operations Robot (THOR). The THOR SEA is an evolutionary improvement upon the SAFFiR SEA [1]. Design changes focused on reducing the size and fixed length of the actuator while increasing its load capacity. This SEA pairs a ball screw-driven linear actuator with a configurable elastic member. The elastic element is a titanium leaf spring with a removable pivot, setting the compliance to either 650 or 372 [kN/m]. The compliant beam is positioned parallel to the actuator, reducing overall packaging size by relocating the space required for spring deflection. Unlike typical SEAs which measure force through spring deflection, the force applied to the titanium beam is measured through a tension/compression load cell located in line with each actuator, resulting in a measurable load range of +/−2225 [N] at a tolerance of +/−1 [N]. A pair of universal joints connects the actuator to the compliant beam and to the robot frame. As the size of each universal joint is greatly dependent upon its required range of motion, each joint design is tailored to fit a particular angle range to further reduce packaging size. Potential research topics involving the actuator are proposed for future work.

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