Abstract

Variable stiffness actuators (VSAs) are widely explored as they could improve the safe performance for human-robot interaction and make the system torque controllable based on the internal compliance. This paper presents a novel VSA based on the cam-based relocation mechanism (CRM-VSA), which is utilized to change the locations of pivot and spring of a lever mechanism simultaneously. Consequently, such structure makes the actuator compacted and the stiffness regulation designable which could help engineers to pursue different demands of stiffness regulation. The simultaneous relocations of the pivot and spring also permit a wide range of adjustable stiffness. By introducing linear guide pairs, the internal friction of the relocations of pivot and spring could be greatly reduced, thus enhancing the energy efficiency. To evaluate the performance of the proposed CRM-VSA, the point-to-point control strategy is developed which contributes to a higher tracking accuracy and oscillation attenuation at both the start and end points of the trajectory. Additionally, the performance of torque controllability is also verified through experiments. These excellent capabilities enable the proposed CRM-VSA to be qualified for constructing a robotic arm towards service applications.

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