TechTalks from event: Technical session talks from ICRA 2012

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Compliance Devices and Control

  • A Position and Stiffness Control Strategy for Variable Stiffness Actuators Authors: Sardellitti, Irene; Medrano-Cerda, Gustavo; Tsagarakis, Nikolaos; Jafari, Amir; Caldwell, Darwin G.
    Variable stiffness actuators (VSAs) have been introduced to improve, at the design level, the safety and the energy efficiency of the new generation of robots that have to interact closely with humans. A wide variety of design solutions have recently been proposed, and a common factor in most of the VSAs is the introduction of a flexible transmission with varying stiffness. This, on the control perspective, usually implies a nonlinear actuation plant with varying dynamics following time-varying parameters, which requires more complex control strategies with respect to those developed for flexible joints with a constant stiffness. For this reason, this paper proposes an approach for controlling the link position and stiffness of a VSA. The link positioning relies on a LQR-based gain scheduling approach useful for continuously adjusting the control effort based on the current stiffness of the flexible transmission. The stiffness perceived at the output link is adjusted to match the varying task requirements through the combination of the positioning gains and the mechanical stiffness. The stability of the overall strategy is briefly discussed. The effectiveness of the controller in terms of tracking performance and stiffness adjustment is verified through experiments on the Actuator with Adjustable Stiffness (AwAS).
  • How Design Can Affect the Energy Required to Regulate the Stiffness in Variable Stiffness Actuators Authors: Jafari, Amir; Tsagarakis, Nikolaos; Sardellitti, Irene; Caldwell, Darwin G.
    Variable stiffness actuators have been developed based on different design solutions which can be arranged into two groups: antagonistic and series design. In both the cases two actuation units are combined with passive elastic elements to adjust both the stiffness and the equilibrium position of the actuated joint. To regulate the stiffness, mechanical work is required to be done which depending on the design principle of the actuator results in certain energy consumption. In this paper different variable stiffness design approaches with different types of springs (linear, quadratic, exponential and cubic) are analyzed and compared with respect to the energy required to regulate the stiffness. The results give some insights about the design parameters which mostly affect the energy consumption for the stiffness adjustment. In this work, it is shown that among different design and spring arrangements, the variable stiffness in series design which uses linear springs with constant pretension, requires the minimum energy consumption to adjust the stiffness.
  • Mechanics and Manipulation of Planar Elastic Kinematic Chains Authors: McCarthy, Zoe; Bretl, Timothy
    In this paper, we study quasi-static manipulation of a planar kinematic chain with a fixed base in which each joint is a linearly-elastic torsional spring. The shape of this chain when in static equilibrium can be represented as the solution to a discrete-time optimal control problem, with boundary conditions that vary with the position and orientation of the last link. We prove that the set of all solutions to this problem is a smooth manifold that can be parameterized by a single chart. For manipulation planning, we show several advantages of working in this chart instead of in the space of boundary conditions, particularly in the context of a sampling-based planning algorithm. Examples are provided in simulation.
  • Simultaneous Optimization of Robot Trajectory and Nonlinear Springs to Minimize Actuator Torque Authors: Schmit, Nicolas; Okada, Masafumi
    In this paper, we consider a robot with nonlinear springs located at each joints and acting in parallel with the actuators. We propose a method to simultaneously design the trajectory of the robot and the force/torque profiles of the springs for an optimal compensation of the gravity and inertial forces. First, we express the trajectory and force/torque profiles of the springs as a Hermite interpolation of a finite number of nodes, then we derive a closed-form solution of the optimal spring design as a function of the trajectory. As a consequence, the initial optimization problem is reduced to a trajectory optimization problem, solved with a numeric algorithm. We show an example of optimal design for a 3-Degree Of Freedom (DOF) serial manipulator. Finally, we show that the nonlinear springs calculated for this manipulator can be technically realized by a non-circular cable spool mechanism.
  • Global Identification of Drive Gains Parameters of Robots Using a Known Payload Authors: Gautier, Maxime; Briot, Sébastien
    Off-line robot dynamic identification methods are based on the use of the Inverse Dynamic Identification Model (IDIM), which calculates the joint forces/torques that are linear in relation to the dynamic parameters, and on the use of linear least squares technique to calculate the parameters (IDIM-LS technique). The joint forces/torques are calculated as the product of the known control signal (the current reference) by the joint drive gains. Then it is essential to get accurate values of joint drive gains to get accurate identification of inertial parameters. In the previous works, it was proposed to identify each gain separately. This does not allow taking into account the dynamic coupling between the robot axes. In this paper the global joint drive gains parameters of all joints are calculated simultaneously. The method is based on the total least squares solution of an over-determined linear system obtained with the inverse dynamic model calculated with available current reference and position sampled data while the robot is tracking one reference trajectory without load on the robot and one trajectory with a known payload fixed on the robot. The method is experimentally validated on an industrial Stäubli TX-40 robot.
  • A Compact, Maneuverable, Underwater Robot for Direct Inspection of Nuclear Power Piping Systems Authors: Mazumdar, Anirban; Lozano, Martin; Fittery, Aaron; Asada, Harry
    There is an increasing need for the inspection of nuclear power plants worldwide. To access complex underwater structures and perform non-destructive evaluation, robots must be tetherless, compact, highly maneuverable, and have a smooth body shape with minimal appendages. A new water jet propulsion system using fluidic valves coupled with centrifugal pumps is developed for precision maneuvering. A hybrid control system that combines continuous pump regulation and discrete Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) of fluidic valves is proposed. This control scheme provides high accuracy, high bandwidth, and flexibility in maneuvering control. First, the functional requirements for nuclear power plant inspection are discussed, followed by the basic design concept of an inspection robot. Miniaturized Coanda-effect valves are designed and built based on CFD and mathematical analysis. The hybrid control system incorporating the pump/valve system is designed and tested. Experimental results illustrate that the hybrid control scheme holds substantial promise and is capable of very precise orientation control. Based on these, a full 4-DOF robot is designed, and its key components are described.