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Actuators, Volume 10, Issue 10 (October 2021) – 33 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): We have developed an actuation system for the fine haptic control of leader–follower robots using magnetorheological (MR) fluids. In this study, we developed a haptic interface with two link-type twin-driven MR fluid actuators and two MR fluid brakes for a teleoperation endoscopic surgery system (H-MRD for ES) and conducted evaluation tests for a remote operational task with a leader–follower robot system. For evaluations, we adopted the NASA-TLX questionnaire as a subjective assessment method. The force information of the haptic forceps helped users to perceive grasping sensation on their fingers. Statistical analyses on the answers to the questionnaire indicate that a decreasing tendency in mental stress in complicated manipulation tasks for fragile objects is observed. View this paper.
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Article
Development of a Control System and Functional Validation of a Parallel Robot for Lower Limb Rehabilitation
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 277; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100277 - 18 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 784
Abstract
This paper is focused on the development of a control system, implemented on a parallel robot designed for the lower limb rehabilitation of bedridden stroke survivors. The paper presents the RECOVER robotic system kinematics, further implemented into the control system, which is described [...] Read more.
This paper is focused on the development of a control system, implemented on a parallel robot designed for the lower limb rehabilitation of bedridden stroke survivors. The paper presents the RECOVER robotic system kinematics, further implemented into the control system, which is described in terms of architecture and functionality. Through a battery of experimental tests, achieved in laboratory conditions using eight healthy subjects, the feasibility and functionality of the proposed robotic system have been validated, and the overall performance of the control system has been studied. The range of motion of each targeted joint has been recorded using a commercially available external sensor system. The kinematic parameters, namely the patient’s joints velocities and accelerations have been recorded and compared to the ones obtained using the virtual model, yielding a very small difference between them, which provides a validation of the RECOVER initial design, both in terms of mechanical construction and control system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Robots: Design, Control and Application)
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Article
Investigation of the Dynamics of a 2-DoF Actuation Unit Cell for a Cooperative Electrostatic Actuation System
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 276; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100276 - 18 Oct 2021
Viewed by 758
Abstract
The mechanism of the inchworm motor, which overcomes the intrinsic displacement and force limitations of MEMS electrostatic actuators, has undergone constant development in the past few decades. In this work, the electrostatic actuation unit cell (AUC) that is designed to cooperate with many [...] Read more.
The mechanism of the inchworm motor, which overcomes the intrinsic displacement and force limitations of MEMS electrostatic actuators, has undergone constant development in the past few decades. In this work, the electrostatic actuation unit cell (AUC) that is designed to cooperate with many other counterparts in a novel concept of a modular-like cooperative actuator system is examined. First, the cooperative system is briefly discussed. A simplified analytical model of the AUC, which is a 2-Degree-of-Freedom (2-DoF) gap-closing actuator (GCA), is presented, taking into account the major source of dissipation in the system, the squeeze-film damping (SQFD). Then, the results of a series of coupled-field numerical simulation studies by the Finite Element Method (FEM) on parameterized models of the AUC are shown, whereby sensible comparisons with available analytical models from the literature are made. The numerical simulations that focused on the dynamic behavior of the AUC highlighted the substantial influence of the SQFD on the pull-in and pull-out times, and revealed how these performance characteristics are considerably determined by the structure’s height. It was found that the pull-out time is the critical parameter for the dynamic behavior of the AUC, and that a larger damping profile significantly shortens the actuator cycle time as a consequence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cooperative Microactuator Systems)
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Article
A Pilot Study of Muscle Force between Normal Shoes and Bionic Shoes during Men Walking and Running Stance Phase Using Opensim
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100274 - 18 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 672
Abstract
The original idea for bionic shoes (BSs) involves combining the function of unstable foot conditions and the structure of the human plantar. The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences between the normal shoes (NS) and the BS during the stance [...] Read more.
The original idea for bionic shoes (BSs) involves combining the function of unstable foot conditions and the structure of the human plantar. The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences between the normal shoes (NS) and the BS during the stance phases of walking and running. A total of 15 Chinese males from Ningbo University were recruited for this study (age: 24.3 ± 2.01 years; height: 176.25 ± 7.11 cm, body weight (BW): 75.75 ± 8.35 kg). The participants were asked to perform a walking and running task. Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) analysis was used to investigate any differences between NSs and BSs during the walking and running stance phases. The results demonstrated that there were significant differences found (21.23–28.24%, p = 0.040; 84.47–100%, p = 0.017) in hip extension and flexion between the NS and the BS during the walking stance phase. There were no significant differences found in ankle and moment during the running stance phase. Significant differences were found in the rectus femoris (5.29–6.21%; p = 0.047), tibialis anterior (14.37–16.40%; p = 0.038), and medial gastrocnemius (25.55–46.86%; p < 0.001) between the NS and the BS during the walking stance phase. Significant differences were found in rectus femoris (12.83–13.10%, p = 0.049; 15.89–80.19%, p < 0.001), tibialis anterior (15.85–18.31%, p = 0.039; 21.14–24.71%, p = 0.030), medial gastrocnemius (80.70–90.44%; p = 0.007), and lateral gastrocnemius (11.16–27.93%, p < 0.001; 62.20–65.63%, p = 0.032; 77.56–93.45%, p < 0.001) between the NS and the BS during the running stance phase. These findings indicate that BSs are more efficient for muscle control than unstable shoes and maybe suitable for rehabilitation training. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Robots: Design, Control and Application)
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Article
Motion Control System Design for a Flying-Type Firefighting System with Water Jet Actuators
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 275; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100275 - 17 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 670
Abstract
This paper presents the design and modeling of a flying-type fire extinguishing system. Fire accidents present very hazardous environments, and firefighters are in danger of losing their lives while putting out the fire. Strict safety measures should be considered to guarantee safe working [...] Read more.
This paper presents the design and modeling of a flying-type fire extinguishing system. Fire accidents present very hazardous environments, and firefighters are in danger of losing their lives while putting out the fire. Strict safety measures should be considered to guarantee safe working conditions for firefighters, which is not the case every time, as fatalities and casualties are still being recorded. For this reason, a novel fire extinguishing system is proposed to provide more safe firefighting and survivor searches. The system studied in this paper is a pilot model that consists of a water jet-based actuation system to control the flying motion of the robot. The dynamic model of this flying robot is derived using the actuation forces, water jet system characteristics, and related information. The mathematical system model is detailed, a sliding-mode control system and a proportional-integral-derivative controller are designed, and comparative simulation tests are carried out. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Aircraft Actuators)
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Article
An Actuator Concept for Adaptive Concrete Columns
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 273; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100273 - 16 Oct 2021
Viewed by 559
Abstract
The building industry accounts for half of the global resource consumption and roughly one third of global CO2 emissions. Global population growth and increasing resource scarcities require engineers and architects to build for more people with less material and emissions. One promising [...] Read more.
The building industry accounts for half of the global resource consumption and roughly one third of global CO2 emissions. Global population growth and increasing resource scarcities require engineers and architects to build for more people with less material and emissions. One promising solution are adaptive load-bearing structures. Here, the load-bearing structure is equipped with actuators, sensors, and a control unit which allows the structure to adapt to different load cases, resulting in substantial material savings. While the first prototypes use industry standard actuators to manipulate deformations and stress states, it is essential to develop actuator concepts which fit the specific requirements of civil engineering structures. This paper introduces new concepts for linear actuators, developed within the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1244 Adaptive Skins and Structures for the Built Environment of Tomorrow, which can be used as adaptive concrete columns. The concept of an actuator which actuates a concrete column by external compression through hydraulic pressure is discussed in further detail. This concept allows for controlled axial extension while also increasing the compressive strength of the concrete column. Full article
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Article
Large Stepwise Discrete Microsystem Displacements Based on Electrostatic Bending Plate Actuation
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 272; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100272 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 408
Abstract
We present the design, fabrication, and experimental characterization of microsystems achieving large and stepwise discrete displacements. The systems consist of electrostatic bending plate actuators linked in a chain with increasing electrode gaps to allow a stepwise system displacement. A derived analytic transfer function [...] Read more.
We present the design, fabrication, and experimental characterization of microsystems achieving large and stepwise discrete displacements. The systems consist of electrostatic bending plate actuators linked in a chain with increasing electrode gaps to allow a stepwise system displacement. A derived analytic transfer function permits to evaluate the influence of the system components on both the total and the stepwise system displacement. Based on calculation and simulation results, systems featuring 5, 8, 10, 13, and 16 steps are modeled and fabricated using a dicing-free SOI-fabrication process. During experimental voltage- and time-dependent system characterization, the minimum switching speed of the electrostatic actuators is 1 ms. Based on the guiding spring stiffness and the switching time, step-by-step and collective activations of the microsystems are performed and the system properties are derived. Furthermore, we analyze the influence of the number of steps on the total system displacement and present 16-step systems with a total maximum displacement of 230.7 ± 0.9 µm at 54 V. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cooperative Microactuator Systems)
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Article
Investigation of Hysteresis Effect in Torque Performance for a Magnetorheological Brake in Adaptive Knee Orthosis
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100271 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 681
Abstract
Semi-active knee orthosis (SAKO) is a kind of wearable lower-limb exoskeleton that uses actuators to support the regular biomechanical functions. It is much better than conventional knee orthosis (CKO) devices because of its high torque to volume ratio (TVR) and low mass. Magnetorheological [...] Read more.
Semi-active knee orthosis (SAKO) is a kind of wearable lower-limb exoskeleton that uses actuators to support the regular biomechanical functions. It is much better than conventional knee orthosis (CKO) devices because of its high torque to volume ratio (TVR) and low mass. Magnetorheological (MR) brake is one of the smart actuators that can be used as an active resistance device in SAKO. It has advantages of fast response, low power consumption, and low vibration operation. This smart brake also has wide applications in the robotic and automotive industries. However, the electromagnetic setup in MR brakes has a hysteresis problem. This paper aims to turn this hysteresis problem into an advantage to save the power consumption of MR brake. Since the SAKO needs precise torque control, this research studied the hysteresis effect on the torque performance of MR brake. A less energy-consuming PWM actuation signal is proposed to activate the MR brake. The effects of frequency and duty cycle of PWM actuation signal on MR brake performance are also investigated. The electromagnetic (EM) and mechanical models of the MR brake were developed to simulate performance. Initial validation of these models is done by simulating the MR brake model with the DC actuation signal in finite element analysis software. For the final validation, the model simulation results are compared with experimental results. The factors affecting the steady torque and the response time of the MR brake are studied to find the optimal frequency and duty cycle for the applied PWM signal. This study revealed that the proposed new PWM actuation signal with a 5 kHz frequency and 60% duty cycle can power the MR brake to maintain steady torque. By turning hysteresis into an advantage, it saves 40% power consumption of MR brake compared to DC signal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Actuators in Robotic Control)
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Article
Underwater Bending Actuator Based on Integrated Anisotropic Textile Materials and a Conductive Hydrogel Electrode
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100270 - 14 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 737
Abstract
Electroactive polymers (EAPs), especially dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs), belong to a very promising and emerging class of functional materials. While DEAs are mostly utilized to rely on carbon-based electrodes, there are certain shortcomings of the use of carbon electrodes in the field of [...] Read more.
Electroactive polymers (EAPs), especially dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs), belong to a very promising and emerging class of functional materials. While DEAs are mostly utilized to rely on carbon-based electrodes, there are certain shortcomings of the use of carbon electrodes in the field of soft robotics. In this work we present a fish-like bending structure to serve as possible propulsion element, completely avoiding carbon-based electrodes. The presented robot is moving under water, using a particularly tailored conductive hydrogel as inner electrode and a highly anisotropic textile material to manipulate the bending behavior of the robot. The charge separation to drive two DEAs on the outsides of the robot is provided by the conductive hydrogel while the surrounding water serves as counter electrode. To characterize the hydrogel, tensile tests and impedance spectroscopy are used as measurement methods of choice. The performance of the robot was evaluated using a digital image correlation (DIC) measurement for its bending deflections under water. The developed fish-like robot was able to perform a dynamic bending movement, based on a tri-stable actuator setup. The performed measurements underpin the sufficient characteristics for an underwater application of conductive hydrogel electrodes as well as the applicability of the robotic concept for under water actuations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electroactive Polymer Actuators)
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Article
Fully-Printable Soft Actuator with Variable Stiffness by Phase Transition and Hydraulic Regulations
by , , , and
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100269 - 14 Oct 2021
Viewed by 498
Abstract
Actuators with variable stiffness have vast potential in the field of compliant robotics. Morphological shape changes in the actuators are possible, while they retain their structural strength. They can shift between a rigid load-carrying state and a soft flexible state in a short [...] Read more.
Actuators with variable stiffness have vast potential in the field of compliant robotics. Morphological shape changes in the actuators are possible, while they retain their structural strength. They can shift between a rigid load-carrying state and a soft flexible state in a short transition period. This work presents a hydraulically actuated soft actuator fabricated by a fully 3D printing of shape memory polymer (SMP). The actuator shows a stiffness of 519 mN/mm at 20 C and 45 mN/mm at 50 C at the same pressure (0.2 MPa). This actuator demonstrates a high stiffness variation of 474 mN/mm (10 times the baseline stiffness) for a temperature change of 30 C and a large variation (≈1150%) in average stiffness. A combined variation of both temperature (20–50 C) and pressure (0–0.2 MPa) displays a stiffness variation of 501 mN/mm. The pressure variation (0–0.2 MPa) in the actuator also shows a large variation in the output force (1.46 N) at 50 C compared to the output force variation (0.16 N) at 20 C. The pressure variation is further utilized for bending the actuator. Varying the pressure (0–0.2 MPa) at 20 C displayed no bending in the actuator. In contrast, the same variation of pressure at 50 C displayed a bending angle of 80. A combined variation of both temperature (20–50 C) and pressure (0–0.2 MPa) shows the ability to bend 80. At the same time, an additional weight (300 g) suspended to the actuator could increase its bending capability to 160. We demonstrated a soft robotic gripper varying its stiffness to carry various objects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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Article
Multi-Agent Distributed Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient for Partially Observable Tracking
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100268 - 14 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 531
Abstract
In many existing multi-agent reinforcement learning tasks, each agent observes all the other agents from its own perspective. In addition, the training process is centralized, namely the critic of each agent can access the policies of all the agents. This scheme has certain [...] Read more.
In many existing multi-agent reinforcement learning tasks, each agent observes all the other agents from its own perspective. In addition, the training process is centralized, namely the critic of each agent can access the policies of all the agents. This scheme has certain limitations since every single agent can only obtain the information of its neighbor agents due to the communication range in practical applications. Therefore, in this paper, a multi-agent distributed deep deterministic policy gradient (MAD3PG) approach is presented with decentralized actors and distributed critics to realize multi-agent distributed tracking. The distinguishing feature of the proposed framework is that we adopted the multi-agent distributed training with decentralized execution, where each critic only takes the agent’s and the neighbor agents’ policies into account. Experiments were conducted in the distributed tracking tasks based on multi-agent particle environments where N(N=3,N=5) agents track a target agent with partial observation. The results showed that the proposed method achieves a higher reward with a shorter training time compared to other methods, including MADDPG, DDPG, PPO, and DQN. The proposed novel method leads to a more efficient and effective multi-agent tracking. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resilient Control and Estimation in Networked Systems)
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Article
Adaptive Kalman Filter with L2 Feedback Control for Active Suspension Using a Novel 9-DOF Semi-Vehicle Model
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 267; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100267 - 14 Oct 2021
Viewed by 413
Abstract
In order to further improve driving comfort, this paper takes the semi-vehicle active suspension as the research object. Furthermore, combined with a 5-DOF driver-seat model, a new 9-DOF driver seat-active suspension model is proposed. The adaptive Kalman filter combined with L2 feedback [...] Read more.
In order to further improve driving comfort, this paper takes the semi-vehicle active suspension as the research object. Furthermore, combined with a 5-DOF driver-seat model, a new 9-DOF driver seat-active suspension model is proposed. The adaptive Kalman filter combined with L2 feedback control algorithm is used to improve the controller. First, a discrete 9-DOF driver seat-active suspension model is established. Then, the L2 feedback algorithm is used to solve the optimal feedback matrix of the model, and the adaptive Kalman filter algorithm is used to replace the linear Kalman filter. Finally, the improved active suspension model and algorithm are verified through simulation and test. The results show that the new algorithm and model not only significantly improve the driver comfort, but also comprehensively optimize the other performance of the vehicle. Compared with the traditional LQG control algorithm, the RMS value of the acceleration experienced by the driver’s limb are, respectively, decreased by 10.9%, 15.9%, 6.4%, and 7.5%. The RMS value of pitch angle acceleration experienced by the driver decreased by 6.4%, and the RMS value of the dynamic tire deflection of front and rear tire decreased by 32.6% and 12.1%, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Land Transport)
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Article
New Type of Linear Magnetostrictive Motor Designed for Outer Space Applications, from Concept to End-Product
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 266; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100266 - 14 Oct 2021
Viewed by 547
Abstract
The use of the linear magnetostrictive motor (LMM) in outer space, in the absence of Earth’s gravitational field and where extreme temperatures manifest, involves innovative technical solutions that result in significant construction changes. This paper highlights these constructive changes and presents the mathematical [...] Read more.
The use of the linear magnetostrictive motor (LMM) in outer space, in the absence of Earth’s gravitational field and where extreme temperatures manifest, involves innovative technical solutions that result in significant construction changes. This paper highlights these constructive changes and presents the mathematical modeling followed by the numerical simulation of different operating regimes of LMM. The novelty of the design resides in using a bias coil instead, in addition to permanent magnets, to magnetize the magnetostrictive core and pulse width modulated (PWM) power sources to control the two coils of the LMM (bias and activation). The total absorbed current is less than 2 A, which results in the reduction of Joule losses. Moreover, a PWM source is provided to power and control a set of three Peltier elements aimed at cooling the device. The experiments validate the design of the LMM, which elicits it to power and control devices that may modulate fuel injection for rocket engines or for machines used to adjust positioning on circumterrestrial orbits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Design and Applications for Magnetoelastic Actuators)
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Article
High Speed Microactuators for Low Aspect Ratio High Speed Micro Aircraft Surfaces
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100265 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 471
Abstract
This paper covers a class of actuators for modern high speed, high performance subscale aircraft. The paper starts with an explanation of the challenges faced by micro aircraft, including low power, extremely tight volume constraints, and high actuator bandwidth requirements. A survey of [...] Read more.
This paper covers a class of actuators for modern high speed, high performance subscale aircraft. The paper starts with an explanation of the challenges faced by micro aircraft, including low power, extremely tight volume constraints, and high actuator bandwidth requirements. A survey of suitable actuators and actuator materials demonstrates that several classes of piezoceramic actuators are ideally matched to the operational environment. While conventional, linear actuation of piezoelectric actuators can achieve some results, dramatic improvements via reverse-biased spring mechanisms can boost performance and actuator envelopes by nearly an order of magnitude. Among the highest performance, low weight configurations are post-buckled precompressed (PBP) actuator arrangements. Analytical models display large deflections at bandwidths compatible with micro aircraft flight control speed requirements. Bench testing of an example PBP micro actuator powered low aspect ratio flight control surface displays +/−11° deflections through 40 Hz, with no occupation of volume within the aircraft fuselage and good correlation between theory and experiment. A wind tunnel model of an example high speed micro aircraft was fabricated along with low aspect ratio PBP flight control surfaces, demonstrating stable deflection characteristics with increasing speed and actuator bandwidths so high that all major aeromechanical modes could be easily controlled. A new way to control such a PBP stabilator with a Limit Dynamic Driver is found to greatly expand the dynamic range of the stabilator, boosting the dynamic response of the stabilator by more than a factor of four with position feedback system engaged. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Actuators for Aerospace Systems)
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Article
Event-Based, Intermittent, Discrete Adaptive Control for Speed Regulation of Artificial Legs
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100264 - 12 Oct 2021
Viewed by 460
Abstract
For artificial legs that are used in legged robots, exoskeletons, and prostheses, it suffices to achieve velocity regulation at a few key instants of swing rather than tight trajectory tracking. Here, we advertise an event-based, intermittent, discrete controller to enable set-point regulation for [...] Read more.
For artificial legs that are used in legged robots, exoskeletons, and prostheses, it suffices to achieve velocity regulation at a few key instants of swing rather than tight trajectory tracking. Here, we advertise an event-based, intermittent, discrete controller to enable set-point regulation for problems that are traditionally posed as trajectory following. We measure the system state at prior-chosen instants known as events (e.g., vertically downward position), and we turn on the controller intermittently based on the regulation errors at the set point. The controller is truly discrete, as these measurements and controls occur at the time scale of the system to be controlled. To enable set-point regulation in the presence of uncertainty, we use the errors to tune the model parameters. We demonstrate the method in the velocity control of an artificial leg, a simple pendulum, with up to 50% mass uncertainty. Starting with a 100% regulation error, we achieve velocity regulation of up to 10% in about five swings with only one measurement per swing. Full article
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Article
An Improved Equivalent-Input-Disturbance Method for Uncertain Networked Control Systems with Packet Losses and Exogenous Disturbances
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100263 - 12 Oct 2021
Viewed by 499
Abstract
In a networked control system (NCS), time delays, uncertainties, packet losses, and exogenous disturbances seriously affect the control performance. To solve these problems, a modified disturbance suppression configuration of NCS was built. In the configuration, a proportional–integral observer (PIO) reproduces the state of [...] Read more.
In a networked control system (NCS), time delays, uncertainties, packet losses, and exogenous disturbances seriously affect the control performance. To solve these problems, a modified disturbance suppression configuration of NCS was built. In the configuration, a proportional–integral observer (PIO) reproduces the state of a plant and reduces the observation error; an equivalent input disturbance (EID) estimator estimates and compensates for the disturbance in the control input channel. The stability conditions of the NCS are given by using a linear matrix inequality, and the gains of the PIO and state feedback controller are obtained. Numerical simulation results and an application of a magnetic levitation ball system verifies the effectiveness of the presented method. Comparison with the conventional PIO and EID methods shows that the presented method reduced the tracking error to about one-fifth and two-thirds of their original values, respectively. This demonstrates the validity and superiority of the presented method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Control Systems in the Presence of Time Delays)
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Article
Kinematic Analysis of a Parallel Manipulator Driven by Perpendicular Linear Actuators
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100262 - 09 Oct 2021
Viewed by 466
Abstract
In this paper, a goniometer-type specimen stage with a linear actuation mechanism mounted on a rotation mechanism is introduced. The linear actuation mechanism was modeled as a spatial parallel manipulator consisting of a moving body, three linear actuators, and an anti-rotation mechanism. The [...] Read more.
In this paper, a goniometer-type specimen stage with a linear actuation mechanism mounted on a rotation mechanism is introduced. The linear actuation mechanism was modeled as a spatial parallel manipulator consisting of a moving body, three linear actuators, and an anti-rotation mechanism. The three linear actuators were arranged perpendicular to each other. In the specimen stage, the linear actuators were in ball contact with the surface of a holder designed to hold a specimen. For the parallel manipulator, the ball contact was replaced with two prismatic joints and a spherical joint. The mobility of the manipulator without the anti-rotation mechanism was one degree of freedom greater than the number of actuators. Therefore, the redundant one degree-of-freedom motion was restrained using an anti-rotation mechanism with three rotation joints and two prismatic joints. The inverse and direct kinematics of the goniometer mechanism were derived and verified. In addition, the inverse Jacobian was derived, and local and global performance indices were analyzed by the terms of manipulability and isotropy. Finally, the goniometer-type specimen stage was designed by the global performance indices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Actuators in Manufacturing Robotics and Mechatronics)
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Article
Stabilization of Switched Time-Delay Linear Systems through a State-Dependent Switching Strategy
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 261; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100261 - 05 Oct 2021
Viewed by 525
Abstract
This paper considers the problem of stabilizing switched time-delay linear systems through a state-dependent switching strategy. In contrast to the existing works, we adopt a less restrictive assumption of the system, and show that this assumption is sufficient to guarantee asymptotic stability of [...] Read more.
This paper considers the problem of stabilizing switched time-delay linear systems through a state-dependent switching strategy. In contrast to the existing works, we adopt a less restrictive assumption of the system, and show that this assumption is sufficient to guarantee asymptotic stability of the considered system under the min-projection switching strategy. Our results also imply that the min-projection switching strategy, originally designed for delay-free switched systems, is robust with respect to small state delays. An optimization problem is formulated to estimate the upper bound of the tolerable time delay. Numerical examples are presented to show that our method is applicable to a larger class of switched systems and leads to a greater delay bound. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Control Systems in the Presence of Time Delays)
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Article
A Real-Time Realization Method for the Pneumatic Positioning System of the Industrial Automated Production Line Using Low-Cost On–Off Valves
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 260; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100260 - 01 Oct 2021
Viewed by 634
Abstract
In the industrial automated production line, how to use the existing low-cost pneumatic equipment to obtain the best positioning effect has become a significant engineering problem. In this paper, a differential switching method is proposed in a pneumatic servo system consisting of four [...] Read more.
In the industrial automated production line, how to use the existing low-cost pneumatic equipment to obtain the best positioning effect has become a significant engineering problem. In this paper, a differential switching method is proposed in a pneumatic servo system consisting of four low-cost on–off valves for more precise control and lower prices. All valves are simultaneously open at the initial stage of each control period, and the differential closing time of the desired valves is calculated through the theoretical models. A sliding mode controller is applied with the proposed method, and the system stability is proven. The real-time control setup including three software layers is proposed to implement the algorithm. Several experiments are performed on a real-time embedded controller. Average 0.83% overshoot and 0.18 mm steady-state error are observed in the step response experiment. The highest frequency of sine wave that can be tracked is 1 Hz, and the average error is 1.68 mm. The maximum steady-state error is about 0.5 mm in the step response under payloads of 5.25 kg. All the simulation and experimental results prove the effectiveness of the control method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Control Systems)
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Article
Design of an Anti-Slip Mechanism for Wheels of Step Climbing Robots
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 259; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100259 - 30 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 698
Abstract
This manuscript presents a shape memory alloy (SMA) actuated anti-slip mechanism for the wheels of step climbing robots. The proposed mechanism comprises three kinematic chains considering the Lazy Tong and the bi-stable four-bar mechanism. Chain 1 of the mechanism is used to clamp [...] Read more.
This manuscript presents a shape memory alloy (SMA) actuated anti-slip mechanism for the wheels of step climbing robots. The proposed mechanism comprises three kinematic chains considering the Lazy Tong and the bi-stable four-bar mechanism. Chain 1 of the mechanism is used to clamp on the edges of the stairs to avoid slipping. The second chain of the mechanism is used to switch the mechanism between two stable positions, i.e., open position and closed position, of chain 1. For activating the mechanism, the third chain is employed which is based on SMA wire. Furthermore, the mechanism is designed to achieve passive switching from the open position to the closed position. Equations are developed to determine the dimensions of various members. Using those parameters, a 3D model of the proposed mechanism is developed. Stress analysis is performed and the model is found to be safe under a load of 250 N with a factor of safety of 3.025. The mechanism is attached to either side of a wheel of the outer radius of 290 mm. To analyze the kinematics of the mechanism, a three-dimensional model in MSC Adams is developed and studied. The force required by SMA actuator is found to be less than 5 N. The proposed mechanism may be used for various unmanned robotic systems while mitigating step-like obstacles in the path. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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Article
Improvement of Torque Estimation for Series Viscoelastic Actuator Based on Dual Extended Kalman Filter
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100258 - 30 Sep 2021
Viewed by 553
Abstract
Adding damping such as viscoelastic element in series elastic actuators (SEA) can improve the force control bandwidth of the system and suppression of high frequency oscillations induced by the environment. Thanks to such advantages, series viscoelastic actuators (SVA) have recently gained increasing research [...] Read more.
Adding damping such as viscoelastic element in series elastic actuators (SEA) can improve the force control bandwidth of the system and suppression of high frequency oscillations induced by the environment. Thanks to such advantages, series viscoelastic actuators (SVA) have recently gained increasing research interests from the community of robotic device design. Due to the inconvenience of mounting torque sensors, employing the viscoelastic elements to directly estimate the output torque is of great significance regarding the real-world applications of SVA. However, the nonlinearity and time-varying properties of viscoelastic materials would degrade the torque estimation accuracy. In such a case, it is paramount to simultaneously estimate the output torque state and viscoelastic model coefficients in order to enhance the torque estimation accuracy. To this end, this paper first completed the design of a rubber-based SVA device and used the Zenner linear viscoelastic model to model the viscoelastic element of the rubber. Subsequently, this paper proposed a dual extended Kalman filter- (DEFK) based torque estimation method to estimate the output torque and viscoelastic model coefficients simultaneously. The noisy observations of two Kalman filters were provided by motor current-based estimated torque. Moreover, the dynamic friction of harmonic drive of the designed SVA was modeled and compensated to enhance the reliability of current-based torque estimation. Finally, a number of experiments were carried out on SVA, and the experimental results confirmed the DEFK effectiveness of improving torque estimation accuracy compared to only-used rubber and only-used motor current torque estimation methods. Thus, the proposed method could be considered as an effective alternative approach of torque estimation for SVA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design and Control of Self-Sensing Actuators for Soft Robotics)
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Article
A Comparative Study of Four Parametric Hysteresis Models for Magnetorheological Dampers
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100257 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 523
Abstract
The dynamics of the magnetorheological damper is complex, including the inherent hysteresis characteristics and nonlinear creep behavior in the low-velocity region. Mathematical models for these complex dynamics are very important to the function of the damper. In this paper, a comparative study of [...] Read more.
The dynamics of the magnetorheological damper is complex, including the inherent hysteresis characteristics and nonlinear creep behavior in the low-velocity region. Mathematical models for these complex dynamics are very important to the function of the damper. In this paper, a comparative study of the four parametric dynamic models, which are the hysteresis bi–viscous model, viscoelastic-plastic model, Bouc–Wen model, and improved Bouc–Wen model, is performed. The study includes the building of a common test apparatus and the parameter identification for the four models. The comparison of the four models concludes that (1) all four models are comparative and that (2) the improved Bouc–Wen model has the highest accuracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Precision Actuators)
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Article
On the Static Pull-In of Tilting Actuation in Electromagnetically Levitating Hybrid Micro-Actuator: Theory and Experiment
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 256; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100256 - 29 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 640
Abstract
This work presents the results of the experimental and theoretical study of the static pull-in of tilting actuation executed by a hybrid levitation micro-actuator (HLMA) based on the combination of inductive levitation and electrostatic actuation. A semi-analytical model to study such a pull-in [...] Read more.
This work presents the results of the experimental and theoretical study of the static pull-in of tilting actuation executed by a hybrid levitation micro-actuator (HLMA) based on the combination of inductive levitation and electrostatic actuation. A semi-analytical model to study such a pull-in phenomenon is developed, for the first time, as a result of using the qualitative technique based on the Lagrangian approach to analyze inductive contactless suspensions and a recent progress in the calculation of mutual inductance and force between two circular filaments. The obtained non-linear model, accounting for two degrees of freedom of the actuator, allows us to predict accurately the static pull-in displacement and voltage. The results of modeling were verified experimentally and agree well with measurements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cooperative Microactuator Systems)
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Article
Constrained Path Planning for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in 3D Terrain Using Modified Multi-Objective Particle Swarm Optimization
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 255; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100255 - 29 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 620
Abstract
This paper considered the constrained unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) path planning problem as the multi-objective optimization problem, in which both costs and constraints are treated as the objective functions. A novel multi-objective particle swarm optimization algorithm based on the Gaussian distribution and the [...] Read more.
This paper considered the constrained unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) path planning problem as the multi-objective optimization problem, in which both costs and constraints are treated as the objective functions. A novel multi-objective particle swarm optimization algorithm based on the Gaussian distribution and the Q-Learning technique (GMOPSO-QL) is proposed and applied to determine the feasible and optimal path for UAV. In GMOPSO-QL, the Gaussian distribution based updating operator is adopted to generate new particles, and the exploration and exploitation modes are introduced to enhance population diversity and convergence speed, respectively. Moreover, the Q-Learning based mode selection logic is introduced to balance the global search with the local search in the evolution process. Simulation results indicate that our proposed GMOPSO-QL can deal with the constrained UAV path planning problem and is superior to existing optimization algorithms in terms of efficiency and robustness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligent Control and Robotic System in Path Planning)
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Article
A Deep Reinforcement Learning Algorithm Based on Tetanic Stimulation and Amnesic Mechanisms for Continuous Control of Multi-DOF Manipulator
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 254; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100254 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 501
Abstract
Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) has been an active research area in view of its capability in solving large-scale control problems. Until presently, many algorithms have been developed, such as Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient (DDPG), Twin-Delayed Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient (TD3), and so on. [...] Read more.
Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) has been an active research area in view of its capability in solving large-scale control problems. Until presently, many algorithms have been developed, such as Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient (DDPG), Twin-Delayed Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient (TD3), and so on. However, the converging achievement of DRL often requires extensive collected data sets and training episodes, which is data inefficient and computing resource consuming. Motivated by the above problem, in this paper, we propose a Twin-Delayed Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient algorithm with a Rebirth Mechanism, Tetanic Stimulation and Amnesic Mechanisms (ATRTD3), for continuous control of a multi-DOF manipulator. In the training process of the proposed algorithm, the weighting parameters of the neural network are learned using Tetanic stimulation and Amnesia mechanism. The main contribution of this paper is that we show a biomimetic view to speed up the converging process by biochemical reactions generated by neurons in the biological brain during memory and forgetting. The effectiveness of the proposed algorithm is validated by a simulation example including the comparisons with previously developed DRL algorithms. The results indicate that our approach shows performance improvement in terms of convergence speed and precision. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Robots: Design, Control and Application)
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Article
Fault-Tolerant Control of a Three-Phase Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor for Lightweight UAV Propellers via Central Point Drive
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 253; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100253 - 29 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 796
Abstract
This paper deals with the development and the performance characterization of a novel Fault-Tolerant Control (FTC) aiming to the diagnosis and accommodation of electrical faults in a three-phase Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (PMSM) employed for the propulsion of a modern lightweight fixed-wing UAV. [...] Read more.
This paper deals with the development and the performance characterization of a novel Fault-Tolerant Control (FTC) aiming to the diagnosis and accommodation of electrical faults in a three-phase Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (PMSM) employed for the propulsion of a modern lightweight fixed-wing UAV. To implement the fault-tolerant capabilities, a four-leg inverter is used to drive the reference PMSM, so that a system reconfiguration can be applied in case of a motor phase fault or an inverter fault, by enabling the control of the central point of the three-phase connection. A crucial design point is to develop Fault-Detection and Isolation (FDI) algorithms capable of minimizing the system failure transients, which are typically characterized by high-amplitude high-frequency torque ripples. The proposed FTC is composed of two sections: in the first, a deterministic model-based FDI algorithm is used, based the evaluation of the current phasor trajectory in the Clarke’s plane; in the second, a novel technique for fault accommodation is implemented by applying a reference frame transformation to post-fault commands. The FTC effectiveness is assessed via detailed nonlinear simulation (including sensors errors, digital signal processing, mechanical transmission compliance, propeller loads and electrical faults model), by characterizing the FDI latency and the post-fault system performances when open circuit faults are injected. Compared with reports in the literature, the proposed FTC demonstrates relevant potentialities: the FDI section of the algorithm provides the smallest ratio between latency and monitoring samples per electrical period, while the accommodation section succeeds in both eliminating post-fault torque ripples and maintaining the mechanical power output with negligible efficiency degradation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robust, Fault-Tolerant Control Design)
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Communication
Gripper Control Design and Simulation for OpenROV Submarine Robot
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 252; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100252 - 29 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 660
Abstract
In this work, a design of a gripper for the underwater OpenROV vehicle is presented. OpenROV is an open-source underwater vehicle design for remote underwater exploration. It can enable systems of underwater internet of things and real-time monitoring. Mechanical aspects of the presented [...] Read more.
In this work, a design of a gripper for the underwater OpenROV vehicle is presented. OpenROV is an open-source underwater vehicle design for remote underwater exploration. It can enable systems of underwater internet of things and real-time monitoring. Mechanical aspects of the presented gripper design are discussed including actuation, motion transmission, kinematics and general arrangement, which resembles a delta robot. The Denavit-Hartenberg (DH) notation will be employed to define reference frames on one of the fingers in order to build transformation matrices and the forward kinematics matrix. The results from the forward kinematics are used to define the workspace that can be covered by each finger. The maximum force from the fingertip is estimated using Newton-Euler equations. Finally, the transfer function and the mass moment of inertia of the second link in the finger, that is, the fingertip is calculated for control simulations. A control stability analysis is provided and shows a stable system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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Article
Buttons on Demand Sliding Mechanism Driven by Smart Materials and Mechanical Design
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100251 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 482
Abstract
In this paper, we describe a novel human interaction platform in a car, called buttons on demand, that will serve as buttons inside the interior of a car, which can be called upon and activated when required but remain concealed and inactive when [...] Read more.
In this paper, we describe a novel human interaction platform in a car, called buttons on demand, that will serve as buttons inside the interior of a car, which can be called upon and activated when required but remain concealed and inactive when not required. The mechanism to obtain such interaction is driven by a combination of smart materials and mechanical design. The elaboration of smart materials and mechanical design employed to achieve this mechanism is discussed. A demonstration of how the buttons on demand mechanism described in this paper can potentially substitute or minimize the use of bulkier physical buttons in cars and provide the user with haptic and tactile feedback with low power consumption and fast response time is also presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Shape Memory Alloy Actuators)
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Article
A Tillage Depth Monitoring and Control System for the Independent Adjustment of Each Subsoiling Shovel
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100250 - 28 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 578
Abstract
Subsoiling can break the compacted hardpan without turning or mixing soil layers. It has significant advantages in improving soil structure, promoting rainwater infiltration, and increasing air permeability of soil. The soil compacted hardpan will not be completely broken and more power consumption will [...] Read more.
Subsoiling can break the compacted hardpan without turning or mixing soil layers. It has significant advantages in improving soil structure, promoting rainwater infiltration, and increasing air permeability of soil. The soil compacted hardpan will not be completely broken and more power consumption will be generated unless the desired tillage depth is obtained. However, due to uneven surface between and within each row of subsoiling shovel in the field, the existing adjustment methods, adjusting via the lifting device of the whole machine or a group of tillage components, cannot ensure each subsoiling shovel avoiding undesired tillage depth. Therefore, a tillage depth monitoring and control system for the independent adjustment of each subsoiling shovel was developed, and the methods of detecting, adjusting, displaying, and recording tillage depth were described. Field experiments were conducted to evaluate detecting accuracy, stability of tillage depth, transient response time, and advantages. The results showed that the value obtained by sensor differed from manual measurement at the speed of 3 km/h, 4 km/h, and 5 km/h averagely by 8.28%. The mean value of the coefficient of the tillage depth stability at three speeds were all greater than 94%. The mean transient response time was 0.6 s. The standard deviation of tillage depth obtained under system control was 38.31, which was less than the 51.52 obtained by only adjusting on the three-point suspension. The subsoiler equipped with this system was capable of obtaining a desired tillage depth of each subsoiling shovel in every second. Full article
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Article
Continuous Control Strategy of Planar 3-Linkage Underactuated Manipulator Based on Broad Neural Network
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 249; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100249 - 27 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 676
Abstract
For the position control of a planar 3-linkage underactuated manipulator (PTUM) with a passive first linkage, a continuous control strategy is developed in this paper. In particular, a broad neural network (BNN)-based model is first established to accurately describe the motion coupling relationship [...] Read more.
For the position control of a planar 3-linkage underactuated manipulator (PTUM) with a passive first linkage, a continuous control strategy is developed in this paper. In particular, a broad neural network (BNN)-based model is first established to accurately describe the motion coupling relationship between the passive linkage and the second linkage. Based on this model, by using the particle swarm optimization algorithm, the target angles of all linkages are calculated combining the start states of all linkages and the target position of the PTUM. Then, the target angles of the active linkages are directly achieved by their respective actuators, and that of the passive linkage is also achieved by the rotation of the second linkage. By carrying out several experiments, the effectiveness of the above strategy is verified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning and Control of Underactuated Mechanical System)
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Article
Axial Motion Characterization of a Helical Ionic Polymer Metal Composite Actuator and Its Application in 3-DOF Micro-Parallel Platforms
Actuators 2021, 10(10), 248; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10100248 - 27 Sep 2021
Viewed by 670
Abstract
In this work, a helical ionic polymer metal composite (IPMC) was fabricated by thermal treatment in a mold with helix grooves. The axial actuation behaviors of the helical IPMC actuator were observed, and the electromechanical and electrochemical characteristics were evaluated. The experimental results [...] Read more.
In this work, a helical ionic polymer metal composite (IPMC) was fabricated by thermal treatment in a mold with helix grooves. The axial actuation behaviors of the helical IPMC actuator were observed, and the electromechanical and electrochemical characteristics were evaluated. The experimental results showed that as the voltage increased and the frequency decreased, the axial displacement, axial force, and electric current of the actuator all increased. Compared with square wave and sinusoidal signals, the actuator exhibited the most satisfactory motion under the direct current (DC) signal. For the electrochemical test, as the scanning rate decreased, the gravimetric specific capacitance increased. Within a suitable voltage range, the actuator was chemically stable. In addition, we coupled the Electrostatics module, Transport of Diluted Species module, and Solid Mechanics module in COMSOL Multiphysics software to model and analyze the helical IPMC actuator. The simulation data obtained were in good agreement with the experimental data. Finally, by using three helical IPMC actuators as driving components, an innovative three-degree-of-freedom (3-DOF) micro-parallel platform was designed, and it could realize a complex coupling movement of pitch, roll, and yaw under the action of an electric field. This platform is expected to be used in micro-assembly, flexible robots, and other fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electroactive Polymer Material Based Soft Actuators)
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