This paper presents the design of a two-degrees-of-freedom (DoFs) variable stiffness mechanism and demonstrates how its adjustable compliance can enhance the robustness of physical human–robot interaction. Compliance on the grasp handle is achieved by suspending it in between magnets in preloaded repelling configuration to act as nonlinear springs. By adjusting the air gaps between the outer magnets, the stiffness of the mechanism in each direction can be adjusted independently. Moreover, the capability of the proposed design in suppressing unintended interaction forces is evaluated in two different experiments. In the first experiment, improper admittance controller gain leads to unstable interaction, whereas in the second case, high-frequency involuntary forces are caused by the tremor.

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