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Proceedings Paper

Bionic robot arm with compliant actuators
Author(s): Bernhard Moehl
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Paper Abstract

Traditional robotics uses non-compliant materials for all components involved in the production of movement. Elasticity is avoided as far as possible, because it leads to hazardous oscillations and makes control of precise movements very difficult. Due to this deliberate stiffness, robots are typically heavy and clumsy structures in comparison to their living counterparts (i.e. man and animals). Yet, moving systems in nature cope not only with the difficulties introduced by compliant materials, they also take advantage of the elasticity in muscles and tendons to produce smooth and even rapid movements. It is understood, that elasticity in a multi-jointed moving system requires sophisticated control mechanisms- as provided by a nervous system or a suitably programmed computer. In this contribution I shall describe a two-jointed robot with purpose-built elasticity in its actuators. This is accomplished by spiral springs places in series with a conventional electric motor and a tendon to the arm. It is shown that, with sufficiently soft elasticity, oscillations can be avoided by active oscillation damping. (Such active oscillation damping presumably also governs movement control in man and animals.) Furthermore, once the major problem has been overcome, elasticity is found to offer a wide spectrum of valuable advantages, as far as the most serious problems in traditional robotics are concerned. They are summarized by terms such as less dangerous, position tolerant, lightweight construction, controlled forces, and ballistic movements. These will be explained in detail and presented for discussion.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 October 2000
PDF: 4 pages
Proc. SPIE 4196, Sensor Fusion and Decentralized Control in Robotic Systems III, (16 October 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.403707
Show Author Affiliations
Bernhard Moehl, Univ. des Saarlandes (Germany)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4196:
Sensor Fusion and Decentralized Control in Robotic Systems III
Gerard T. McKee; Paul S. Schenker, Editor(s)

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