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Robotics 2017, 6(1), 2; doi:10.3390/robotics6010002

Experimental and Simulation-Based Investigation of Polycentric Motion of an Inherent Compliant Pneumatic Bending Actuator with Skewed Rotary Elastic Chambers

1
Friedrich-Wilhelm-Bessel-Institute Research Company, D-28359 Bremen, Germany
2
Institute of Automation, University of Bremen, D-28359 Bremen, Germany
3
Institute of Orthopaedic Research and Biomechanics, Ulm University—Medical Center, D-89081 Ulm, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Huosheng Hu
Received: 13 September 2016 / Revised: 6 January 2017 / Accepted: 17 January 2017 / Published: 25 January 2017
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Abstract

To offer a functionality that could not be found in traditional rigid robots, compliant actuators are in development worldwide for a variety of applications and especially for human–robot interaction. Pneumatic bending actuators are a special kind of such actuators. Due to the absence of fixed mechanical axes and their soft behavior, these actuators generally possess a polycentric motion ability. This can be very useful to provide an implicit self-alignment to human joint axes in exoskeleton-like rehabilitation devices. As a possible realization, a novel bending actuator (BA) was developed using patented pneumatic skewed rotary elastic chambers (sREC). To analyze the actuator self-alignment properties, knowledge about the motion of this bending actuator type, the so-called skewed rotary elastic chambers bending actuator (sRECBA), is of high interest and this paper presents experimental and simulation-based kinematic investigations. First, to describe actuator motion, the finite helical axes (FHA) of basic actuator elements are determined using a three-dimensional (3D) camera system. Afterwards, a simplified two-dimensional (2D) kinematic simulation model based on a four-bar linkage was developed and the motion was compared to the experimental data by calculating the instantaneous center of rotation (ICR). The equivalent kinematic model of the sRECBA was realized using a series of four-bar linkages and the resulting ICR was analyzed in simulation. Finally, the FHA of the sRECBA were determined and analyzed for three different specific motions. The results show that the actuator’s FHA adapt to different motions performed and it can be assumed that implicit self-alignment to the polycentric motion of the human joint axis will be provided. View Full-Text
Keywords: compliant pneumatic bending actuator; kinematic modeling; soft-robotics; physical human–robot interaction; robot-assisted rehabilitation compliant pneumatic bending actuator; kinematic modeling; soft-robotics; physical human–robot interaction; robot-assisted rehabilitation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Wilkening, A.; Hacker, S.; Stöppler, H.; Dürselen, L.; Ivlev, O. Experimental and Simulation-Based Investigation of Polycentric Motion of an Inherent Compliant Pneumatic Bending Actuator with Skewed Rotary Elastic Chambers. Robotics 2017, 6, 2.

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