Variable stiffness actuators can be used in order to achieve a suitable trade-off between performance and safety in robotic devices for physical human–robot interaction. With the aim of improving the compactness and the flexibility of existing mechanical solutions, a variable stiffness actuator based on the use of flexures is investigated. The proposed concept allows the implementation of a desired stiffness profile and range. In particular, this paper reports a procedure for the synthesis of a fully compliant mechanism used as a nonlinear transmission element, together with its experimental characterization. Finally, a preliminary prototype of the overall joint is depicted.

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