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Actuators 2017, 6(4), 28; doi:10.3390/act6040028

Stiffness Control of Variable Serial Elastic Actuators: Energy Efficiency through Exploitation of Natural Dynamics

Institute for Mechatronic Systems in Mechanical Engineering, Technische Universität Darmstadt, 64287 Darmstadt, Germany
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Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 21 September 2017 / Accepted: 21 September 2017 / Published: 27 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Variable Stiffness and Variable Impedance Actuators)
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Abstract

Variable elastic actuators are very promising for applications in physical human–robot interaction. Besides enabling human safety, such actuators can support energy efficiency, especially if the natural behavior of the system is exploited. In this paper, the power and energy consumption of variable stiffness actuators with serial elasticity is investigated analytically and experimentally. Besides the fundamental mechanics, the influence of friction and electrical losses is discussed. A simple but effective stiffness control method is used to exploit the corresponding knowledge of natural dynamics by tuning the system to antiresonance operation. Despite nonlinear friction effects and additional electrical dynamics, the consideration of the ideal mechanical dynamics is completely sufficient for stiffness control. Simulations and experiments show that this yields a distinct reduction in power and energy consumption, which underlines the suitability of the control strategy. View Full-Text
Keywords: stiffness control; energy efficiency; series elastic actuators; variable stiffness actuators stiffness control; energy efficiency; series elastic actuators; variable stiffness actuators
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Beckerle, P.; Stuhlenmiller, F.; Rinderknecht, S. Stiffness Control of Variable Serial Elastic Actuators: Energy Efficiency through Exploitation of Natural Dynamics. Actuators 2017, 6, 28.

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