Knowledge of joint angles, angular velocities is essential for control of link mechanisms and robots. The estimation of joint angles and angular velocity is performed using combination of inertial sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes) which are contactless and flexible at point of application. Different estimation techniques are used to fuse data from different inertial sensors. Bio-inspired sensors using symmetrically placed multiple inertial sensors are capable of instantaneously measuring joint parameters (joint angle, angular velocities and angular acceleration) without use of any estimation techniques. Calibration of inertial sensors is easier and more reliable for accelerometers as compared to gyroscopes.
The research presents gyroscope-less, multiple accelerometer and magnetometer based sensors capable of measuring (not estimating) joint parameters. The contribution of the improved sensor are four-fold. Firstly, the inertial sensors are devoid of symmetry constraint unlike the previously researched bio-inspired sensors. However, the accelerometer are non-coplanarly placed. Secondly, the accelerometer-magnetometer combination sensor allows for calculation of a unique rotation matrix between two link joined by any kind of joint. Thirdly, the sensors are easier to calibrate as they consist only of accelerometers. Finally, the sensors allow for calculation of angular velocity and angular acceleration without use of gyroscopes.