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Actuators 2014, 3(2), 66-83; doi:10.3390/act3020066

Sustainable Multi-Modal Sensing by a Single Sensor Utilizing the Passivity of an Elastic Actuator

Department of Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering, Osaka Institute of Technology, 5-16-1, Omiya, Asahi-ku, Osaka, 5358585, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 December 2013 / Revised: 29 April 2014 / Accepted: 4 May 2014 / Published: 12 May 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soft Actuators)
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When a robot equipped with compliant joints driven by elastic actuators contacts an object and its joints are deformed, multi-modal information, including the magnitude and direction of the applied force and the deformation of the joint, is used to enhance the performance of the robot such as dexterous manipulation. In conventional approaches, some types of sensors used to obtain the multi-modal information are attached to the point of contact where the force is applied and at the joint. However, this approach is not sustainable for daily use in robots, i.e., not durable or robust, because the sensors can undergo damage due to the application of excessive force and wear due to repeated contacts. Further, multiple types of sensors are required to measure such physical values, which add to the complexity of the device system of the robot. In our approach, a single type of sensor is used and it is located at a point distant from the contact point and the joint, and the information is obtained indirectly by the measurement of certain physical parameters that are influenced by the applied force and the joint deformation. In this study, we employ the McKibben pneumatic actuator whose inner pressure changes passively when a force is applied to the actuator. We derive the relationships between information and the pressures of a two-degrees-of-freedom (2-DoF) joint mechanism driven by four pneumatic actuators. Experimental results show that the multi-modal information can be obtained by using the set of pressures measured before and after the force is applied. Further, we apply our principle to obtain the stiffness values of certain contacting objects that can subsequently be categorized by using the aforementioned relationships.
Keywords: pneumatic actuator; force and angle sensing; joint mechanism for a sustainable robot pneumatic actuator; force and angle sensing; joint mechanism for a sustainable robot
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Takuma, T.; Takamine, K.; Masuda, T. Sustainable Multi-Modal Sensing by a Single Sensor Utilizing the Passivity of an Elastic Actuator. Actuators 2014, 3, 66-83.

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