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Actuators, Volume 11, Issue 3 (March 2022) – 34 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): In this work, a biped robot AIRO designed by the authors from Zhejiang Lab is presented, which is 30 kg in weight and 1.4 m in height. The influence of the stiffness of the leg’s drive chain is discussed based on AIRO using a mass–spring model. Relations between the executed accuracy of the joint trajectories and the stiffness were analyzed, and the stiffness parameters were optimized after that. The results show that special attention should be paid to the stiffness of the drive train of the leg when designing a biped robot to ensure the walking capability of the robot. Additionally, the results show that attention should be paid to manufacturing tolerances to ensure the symmetry of the legs of the bipedal robot to reduce the vibration of the robot body. Experiments were conducted on AIRO for validating the simulation analysis. View this paper
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Communication
A Model-Free Output Feedback Control Approach for the Stabilization of Underactuated TORA System with Input Saturation
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030097 - 21 Mar 2022
Viewed by 891
Abstract
The horizontal translational oscillator with a rotational actuator (TORA) is a typical underactuated mechanical system, whose control problem is still open and theoretically challenging. At present, the existing control methods are structurally complicated and require an exact knowledge of the system parameters. Moreover, [...] Read more.
The horizontal translational oscillator with a rotational actuator (TORA) is a typical underactuated mechanical system, whose control problem is still open and theoretically challenging. At present, the existing control methods are structurally complicated and require an exact knowledge of the system parameters. Moreover, few works have considered the output feedback stabilization of the TORA system subject to practical constraints of input saturation and angular velocity unmeasurement. To address these problems, this paper proposes a novel model-free amplitude-limited control approach to stabilize the TORA system at the origin using only angle feedback. Firstly, the passivity of the horizontal TORA system is analyzed, based on which a novel Lyapunov function augmented with an auxiliary signal is constructed by taking the input saturation into account. Then, an amplitude-limited control law is derived in a straightforward manner. In order to make the control law independent of velocity feedback, the auxiliary signal is designed in terms of the ball rotational angle and an output of a dynamic system. The asymptotic stability of the entire control system is rigorously guaranteed by utilizing Lyapunov theory and LaSalle’s invariance principle. Finally, simulation results with comparisons to existing methods demonstrate the effectiveness and superiority of the proposed control approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Learning and Control of Underactuated Mechanical System)
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Article
High-Frequency Position Servo Control of Hydraulic Actuator with Valve Dynamic Compensation
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030096 - 20 Mar 2022
Viewed by 857
Abstract
Hydraulic actuators play an important role in various industries. In the last decades, to improve system performance, some advanced control methods have been developed. Backstepping control, which can deal with the system nonlinearities, is widely used in hydraulic system motion control. This paper [...] Read more.
Hydraulic actuators play an important role in various industries. In the last decades, to improve system performance, some advanced control methods have been developed. Backstepping control, which can deal with the system nonlinearities, is widely used in hydraulic system motion control. This paper focuses on the high-frequency position servo control of hydraulic systems with proportional valves. In backstepping controllers, valve dynamics are usually ignored due to difficulty of controller implementation. In this paper, valve dynamics of the proportional valve were decoupled into phase delay and amplitude delay. The valve dynamics are compensated without increasing the system order. The phase delay is compensated by desired engine valve lifts transformation. For amplitude delay, the paper proposes a compensation strategy based on the integral flow error. By introducing the feedback of the integral flow error to the backstepping controller, the system has faster dynamic responses. Besides, the controller also synthesized proportional valve dead-zone and system uncertainties. The comparative experiment results show that the controller with integral flow compensation can improve engine valve lift tracking precision both in steady and transient conditions. Full article
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Article
High-Precision Anti-Interference Control of Direct Drive Components
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030095 - 19 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 745
Abstract
This study presents a compound control algorithm that enhances the servo accuracy and disturbance suppression capability of direct drive components (DDCs). The servo performance of DDCs is easily affected by external disturbance and the deterioration of assembly characteristics due to a lack of [...] Read more.
This study presents a compound control algorithm that enhances the servo accuracy and disturbance suppression capability of direct drive components (DDCs). The servo performance of DDCs is easily affected by external disturbance and the deterioration of assembly characteristics due to a lack of deceleration device. The purpose of this study is to compensate for the impact of external and internal disturbances on the system. First, a linear state space model of the system is established. Second, we analyzed the main factors restricting the performance of DDCs which includes sensor noise, friction and external disturbance. Then, a fractional-order proportional integral (FOPI) controller was used to eliminate the steady-state error caused by the time-invariable disturbance which can also improve the system’s anti-interference capability. A state-augmented Kalman filter (SAKF) was proposed to suppress the quantization noise and compensate for the time-varying disturbances simultaneously. The effectiveness of the proposed compound algorithm was demonstrated by comparative experiments, demonstrating a maximum 89.34% improvement. The experimental results show that, compared with the traditional PI controller, the FOPISAKF controller can not only improve the tracking accuracy of the system, but also enhance the disturbance suppression ability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Motion Planning and Control for Robotics)
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Article
A Paper-Based Cantilever Beam Mini Actuator Using Hygro-Thermal Response
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030094 - 17 Mar 2022
Viewed by 777
Abstract
New technological and scientific advances in the development of sensors and actuators demand the development of new devices to deal with recent problems and challenges in these new and emerging processes. Moreover, paper-based devices have tremendous potential for developing actuators as paper exhibits [...] Read more.
New technological and scientific advances in the development of sensors and actuators demand the development of new devices to deal with recent problems and challenges in these new and emerging processes. Moreover, paper-based devices have tremendous potential for developing actuators as paper exhibits capillary transport and hygroexpansion due to swelling of the fibers when absorbing water. Therefore, this paper proposes a mini actuator that is based on a hygro-thermal-paper-based cantilever beam that is activated by means of a droplet of an aqueous solution in combination with a circulating electrical current to analyze its response. The contribution of this proposal includes the analysis of the flexural response of the mini actuator when it is tested by using two different solutions: distilled water and a water/alcohol solution. Additionally, four cases related to the droplet volume are studied and a statistical analysis of the bending responses is presented. The results achieved show that that water-alcohol solutions have a lower deviation in comparison with water only. Moreover, it is demonstrated that a specific change in the maximum displacement is obtained according to the volume and the type of solution. Thus, it is suggested that the response of the mini actuator can be tuned using different aqueous solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Miniature and Micro-Actuators)
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Article
A Compound Scheme Based on Improved ADRC and Nonlinear Compensation for Electromechanical Actuator
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030093 - 17 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 778
Abstract
A compound scheme, based on an improved active disturbance rejection controller (ADRC) and nonlinear compensation, is developed for the electromechanical actuator (EMA) system in this paper. First, considering the influences of backlash, friction on the EMA system, a model for the EMA system [...] Read more.
A compound scheme, based on an improved active disturbance rejection controller (ADRC) and nonlinear compensation, is developed for the electromechanical actuator (EMA) system in this paper. First, considering the influences of backlash, friction on the EMA system, a model for the EMA system is presented. The LuGre model and Hysteresis inverse model are used to compensate for the friction and backlash phenomenon. Then, the method of improved ADRC, based on the Fal function filter and a Linear extended state observer (LESO), is investigated. Simultaneously, since the controller parameters of the improved ADRC are complicated, the non-dominated sorting genetic algorithm II (NSGA-II) is presented to optimize the controller parameters, to achieve the best dynamic response. Finally, simulation and experiment are presented to validate the effectiveness of the proposed method. Under the nonlinear compensation, the performance of the proposed compound scheme is compared with the conventional proportional integral (PI) controller, in terms of step response analysis and sine wave response analysis. Simulation and experiments show that the proposed controller provides high-performance dynamic characteristics. Full article
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Review
Pneumatic Soft Robots: Challenges and Benefits
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030092 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1212
Abstract
In the field of robotics, soft robots have been showing great potential in the areas of medical care, education, service, rescue, exploration, detection, and wearable devices due to their inherently high flexibility, good compliance, excellent adaptability, and natural and safe interactivity. Pneumatic soft [...] Read more.
In the field of robotics, soft robots have been showing great potential in the areas of medical care, education, service, rescue, exploration, detection, and wearable devices due to their inherently high flexibility, good compliance, excellent adaptability, and natural and safe interactivity. Pneumatic soft robots occupy an essential position among soft robots because of their features such as lightweight, high efficiency, non-pollution, and environmental adaptability. Thanks to its mentioned benefits, increasing research interests have been attracted to the development of novel types of pneumatic soft robots in the last decades. This article aims to investigate the solutions to develop and research the pneumatic soft robot. This paper reviews the status and the main progress of the recent research on pneumatic soft robots. Furthermore, a discussion about the challenges and benefits of the recent advancement of the pneumatic soft robot is provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robot Control in Human-Machine Systems)
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Article
Control Strategies for Highly Gyroscopic Outer Rotors with Diametral Enlargement in Active Magnetic Bearings
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030091 - 15 Mar 2022
Viewed by 770
Abstract
Flywheels are used for peak shaving or load smoothing to generate a higher efficiency and a more stable power supply. Therefore, this paper investigates highly integrated outer rotor flywheels levitated by active magnetic bearings (AMB). Due to the highly gyroscopic behavior and the [...] Read more.
Flywheels are used for peak shaving or load smoothing to generate a higher efficiency and a more stable power supply. Therefore, this paper investigates highly integrated outer rotor flywheels levitated by active magnetic bearings (AMB). Due to the highly gyroscopic behavior and the diametrical enlargement under rotation, the system behavior changes with the speed, leading to a significant decrease in the maximum force and maximum force slew rate of the AMB. Thus, the speed range in which a decentralized feedback control stabilizes the system is reduced. In the literature, there are numerous approaches for coping with gyroscopic behavior. However, there are far fewer investigations for explicit consideration of the change in the air gap in the control structure. Therefore, the goal of this work is to find a control strategy to reduce the effect of the gyroscopic behavior as well as the change of the air gap. The authors propose a control strategy combining a cross feedback control with a decentralized variable feedback control. With this combination, the drawbacks of the previously described effects are compensated, leading to a higher operating range of the system and a reduced utilization of the amplifier without overcompensation at lower rotational speeds. Full article
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Article
Modeling and Control Design of a Contact-Based, Electrostatically Actuated Rotating Sphere
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030090 - 15 Mar 2022
Viewed by 735
Abstract
The performance of micromirrors in terms of their maximum deflection is often limited due to mechanical constraints in the design. To increase the range of achievable deflection angles, we present a novel concept in which a free-lying sphere with a flat side as [...] Read more.
The performance of micromirrors in terms of their maximum deflection is often limited due to mechanical constraints in the design. To increase the range of achievable deflection angles, we present a novel concept in which a free-lying sphere with a flat side as reflector can be rotated. Due to the large forces needed to move the sphere, multiple electrostatic actuators are used to cooperatively rotate the sphere in iterative steps by impacts and friction. A parameterized system-level model of the configuration is derived, which considers arbitrary multi-contact scenarios and can be used for simulation, analysis, and control design purposes. Due to the complex, indirect relation between the actuator voltages and the sphere motion, model-based numerical optimization is applied to obtain suitable system inputs. This results in rotation sequences, which can be understood as a sequence of motion primitives, thus transforming the continuous time model into an abstract discrete time model. Based on this, we propose a feedback control strategy for trajectory following, considering model uncertainties by a learning scheme. High precision is achieved by an extension controlling the angular change of each rotation step. The suitability of the overall approach is demonstrated in simulation for maximum angles of 40°, achieving angular velocities of approximately 10°/s. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Miniaturized and Micro Actuators)
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Article
Development of Variable Viscoelastic Joint Module Performance Evaluation and Proposal of Application Examples
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030089 - 14 Mar 2022
Viewed by 741
Abstract
With the diversification of robots, modularization of robots has been attracting attention. In our previous study, we developed a robot that mimics the principle of human joint drive using a straight-fiber-type pneumatic rubber artificial muscle (“artificial muscle”) and a magnetorheological fluid brake (“MR [...] Read more.
With the diversification of robots, modularization of robots has been attracting attention. In our previous study, we developed a robot that mimics the principle of human joint drive using a straight-fiber-type pneumatic rubber artificial muscle (“artificial muscle”) and a magnetorheological fluid brake (“MR brake”). The variable viscoelastic joints have been modularized. Therefore, this paper evaluates the basic characteristics of the developed Joint Module, characterizes the variable viscoelastic joint, and compares it with existing modules. As basic characteristics, we confirmed that the Joint Module has a variable viscoelastic element by experimentally verifying the joint angle, stiffness, viscosity, and tracking performance of the generated torque to the command value. As a characteristic evaluation, we verified the change in motion and response to external disturbances due to differences in driving methods through simulations and experiments and proved the strength of the variable viscoelastic joint against external disturbances, which is a characteristic of variable viscoelastic joints. Based on the results of the basic characterization and the characterization of the variable viscoelastic drive joint, we discussed what kind of device the Joint Module is suitable to be applied to and clarified the position of the variable viscoelastic joint as an actuator system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Materials for Smart Actuators and Semi-active Components)
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Article
Study on Buckling Characteristics of a Convex Tape-Shaped Ti-Ni Shape Memory Alloy Element for Application to Passive Vibration Isolator Devices and Force Limit Devices
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030088 - 14 Mar 2022
Viewed by 704
Abstract
The tape-shaped Ti-Ni shape memory alloy (SMA) shows negative or quasi-zero stiffness during post-buckling deformation, and this characteristic can be applied to passive vibration isolator devices and force limit devices. Design calculation of the buckling load and the negative stiffness gradient after buckling [...] Read more.
The tape-shaped Ti-Ni shape memory alloy (SMA) shows negative or quasi-zero stiffness during post-buckling deformation, and this characteristic can be applied to passive vibration isolator devices and force limit devices. Design calculation of the buckling load and the negative stiffness gradient after buckling of tape-shaped SMA element are required to apply the SMA element to these devices. When the cross-section of the SMA element is convex tape shaped, an improvement in buckling properties is expected. In this study, the effects of the curvature of the cross-section on the buckling characteristics of convex tape-shaped SMA elements were investigated by the 3D finite element method (3D-FEM) and material testing. The results of the study indicate that the buckling load and negative stiffness gradient of convex tape-shaped SMA elements tend to increase with increasing curvature of the cross-section. Furthermore, when the convex tape-shaped SMA elements buckled in the convex direction of the cross-section, the loading stress was approximately equivalent to that of buckling a flat tape-shaped SMA elements. Therefore, the convex tape-shaped SMA element is considered to be more suitable for device application compared to the flat tape-shaped SMA element, because the buckling characteristics of convex tape-shaped SMA elements can be controlled by adjusting the curvature of the cross-section without changing the dimensions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Materials for Smart Actuators and Semi-active Components)
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Article
Evaluation Method of Soil Surface Roughness after Ditching Operation Based on Wavelet Transform
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030087 - 12 Mar 2022
Viewed by 823
Abstract
Soil surface roughness (SSR) is an important parameter affecting surface hydrology, erosion, gas exchange and other processes. The surface roughness of the farmland environment is directly related to the tillage process. In order to accurately characterize the random roughness (RR) parameters of the [...] Read more.
Soil surface roughness (SSR) is an important parameter affecting surface hydrology, erosion, gas exchange and other processes. The surface roughness of the farmland environment is directly related to the tillage process. In order to accurately characterize the random roughness (RR) parameters of the surface after ditching, a three-dimensional (3D) digital model of the surface was obtained by laser scanning under the conditions of an indoor ditching test, and the influence of oriented roughness components formed by removing ridge characteristics on the RR of the surface was analyzed by introducing the wavelet processing method. For this reason, four groups of ditching depths and two types of surface conditions (whether the surface was agglomerated or not) were designed in this paper. By comparing the root mean squared height (RMSH) and correlation length (CL) data calculated before and after wavelet processing under each group of tests, it was concluded that the RMSH values of the four groups before and after wavelet processing all change more than 200%, the change amplitude reached 271.02% under the treatment of 12 cm ditching depth, meanwhile, the average CL value of five cross-sections under each group of ditching depths decreased by 1.43–2.28 times, which proves that the oriented roughness component formed by furrows and ridges has a significant influence on the calculation of RR. By further analyzing the roughness value differences of clods and pits in different directions and local areas before and after wavelet transform, it was shown that the wavelet transform can effectively remove the surface anisotropy characteristics formed in the tillage direction and provide a uniform treatment method for the evaluation of surface RR at different ditching depths. Full article
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Article
A Bi-State Shape Memory Material Composite Soft Actuator
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030086 - 11 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 961
Abstract
Shape memory materials have been widely used as programmable soft matter for developing multifunctional hybrid actuators. Several challenges of fabrication and effective modelling of these soft actuating systems can be addressed by implementing novel 3D printing techniques and simulations to aid the designer. [...] Read more.
Shape memory materials have been widely used as programmable soft matter for developing multifunctional hybrid actuators. Several challenges of fabrication and effective modelling of these soft actuating systems can be addressed by implementing novel 3D printing techniques and simulations to aid the designer. In this study, the temperature-dependent recovery of an embedded U-shaped Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) and the shape fixity of a 3D-printed Shape Memory Polymer (SMP) matrix were exploited to create a bi-state Shape Memory Composite (SMC) soft actuator. Electrical heating allowed the SMA to achieve the bi-state condition, undergoing phase transformation to a U shape in the rubbery phase and a flat shape in the glassy phase of the SMP. A COMSOL Multiphysics model was developed to predict the deformation and recovery of the SMC by leveraging the in-built SMA constitutive relations and user-defined material subroutine for the SMP. The bi-state actuation model was validated by capturing the mid-point displacement of the 80 mm length × 10 mm width × 2 mm-thick 3D-printed SMC. The viability of the SMC as a periodic actuator in terms of shape recovery was addressed through modelling and simulation. Results indicated that the proposed COMSOL model was in good agreement with the experiment. In addition, the effect of varying the volume ratio of the SMA wire in the SMC on the maximum and recovered deflection was also obtained. Our model can be used to design SMC actuators with various performance profiles to facilitate future designs in soft robotics and wearable technology applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Shape Memory Alloy Actuators)
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Article
Distributed Drive Electric Bus Handling Stability Control Based on Lyapunov Theory and Sliding Mode Control
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030085 - 10 Mar 2022
Viewed by 760
Abstract
To improve the handling stability of distributed drive electric buses, a vehicle stability control system based on direct yaw moment control (DYC) with a hierarchical control structure was designed. Considering that the vehicle dynamics system is highly nonlinear, a nonlinear controller based on [...] Read more.
To improve the handling stability of distributed drive electric buses, a vehicle stability control system based on direct yaw moment control (DYC) with a hierarchical control structure was designed. Considering that the vehicle dynamics system is highly nonlinear, a nonlinear controller based on Lyapunov stability theory was designed to calculate the required additional yaw moment of the vehicle in the upper controller. In the lower controller, the additional yaw moment is distributed to four wheel-side motors according to the equal proportion torque distribution method, and the direction of wheel-side motor output torque is determined based on the steering state of the vehicle. A co-simulation based on Simulink and Trucksim was conducted to verify the designed controller under two extreme conditions. Simulation results indicate that the proposed method performs feasibly and effectively in the handling stability of vehicles. Compared with traditional sliding mode control (SMC), the proposed control strategy can significantly reduce the chattering of the system, which provides a theoretical basis for the application of this yaw stability control method in engineering practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vehicle Modeling and Control)
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Article
Evaluation of Fiber-Reinforced Modular Soft Actuators for Individualized Soft Rehabilitation Gloves
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030084 - 09 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 970
Abstract
Applying soft actuators to hand motion assist for rehabilitation has been receiving increasing interest in recent years. Pioneering research efforts have shown the feasibility of soft rehabilitation gloves (SRGs). However, one important and practical issue, the effects of users’ individual differences in finger [...] Read more.
Applying soft actuators to hand motion assist for rehabilitation has been receiving increasing interest in recent years. Pioneering research efforts have shown the feasibility of soft rehabilitation gloves (SRGs). However, one important and practical issue, the effects of users’ individual differences in finger size and joint stiffness on both bending performance (e.g., Range of motion (ROM) and torque) and the mechanical loads applied to finger joints when the actuators are placed on a patient’s hand, has not been well investigated. Moreover, the design considerations of SRGs for individual users, considering individual differences, have not been addressed. These, along with the inherent safety of soft actuators, should be investigated carefully before the practical use of SRGs. This work aimed to clarify the effects of individual differences on the actuator’s performance through a series of experiments using dummy fingers designed with individualized parameters. Two types of fiber-reinforced soft actuators, the modular type for assisting each joint and conventional (whole-finger assist) type, were designed and compared. It was found that the modular soft actuators respond better to individual differences set in the experiment and exhibit a superior performance to the conventional ones. By suitable connectors and air pressure, the modular soft actuators could cope with the individual differences with minimal effort. The effects of the individualized parameters are discussed, and design considerations are extracted and summarized. This study will play an important role in pushing forward the SRGs to real rehabilitation practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Medical Instruments)
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Article
Cutting Mechanism Rotor System Dynamic Characteristics of Cantilever Roadheader under Random Hard Rock Load
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030083 - 09 Mar 2022
Viewed by 760
Abstract
Accurately mastering the power transmission characteristics of the cutting arm transmission shaft system is key to improving the reliability and working capacity of the cantilever roadheader. Based on the rigid–flexible coupling vibration characteristic modeling of the roadheader cutting arm, the vibration characteristics of [...] Read more.
Accurately mastering the power transmission characteristics of the cutting arm transmission shaft system is key to improving the reliability and working capacity of the cantilever roadheader. Based on the rigid–flexible coupling vibration characteristic modeling of the roadheader cutting arm, the vibration characteristics of different substructures in the transmission shaft system of the roadheader cutting arm were considered, the dynamic characteristic model was comprehensively constructed, and the numerical analysis was carried out with the parameters of the XTR260 tunnel hard rock roadheader to compare the vibration characteristics of the cutting head under different cutting conditions. The experiment was carried out by using an artificial concrete wall, and the measurement results verify the established dynamic model that lays the foundation for the dynamic design of a high-performance roadheader. Full article
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Article
Implications of Spatially Constrained Bipennate Topology on Fluidic Artificial Muscle Bundle Actuation
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030082 - 09 Mar 2022
Viewed by 744
Abstract
In this paper, we investigate the design of pennate topology fluidic artificial muscle bundles under spatial constraints. Soft fluidic actuators are of great interest to roboticists and engineers, due to their potential for inherent compliance and safe human–robot interaction. McKibben fluidic artificial muscles [...] Read more.
In this paper, we investigate the design of pennate topology fluidic artificial muscle bundles under spatial constraints. Soft fluidic actuators are of great interest to roboticists and engineers, due to their potential for inherent compliance and safe human–robot interaction. McKibben fluidic artificial muscles are an especially attractive type of soft fluidic actuator, due to their high force-to-weight ratio, inherent flexibility, inexpensive construction, and muscle-like force-contraction behavior. The examination of natural muscles has shown that those with pennate fiber topology can achieve higher output force per geometric cross-sectional area. Yet, this is not universally true for fluidic artificial muscle bundles, because the contraction and rotation behavior of individual actuator units (fibers) are both key factors contributing to situations where bipennate muscle topologies are advantageous, as compared to parallel muscle topologies. This paper analytically explores the implications of pennation angle on pennate fluidic artificial muscle bundle performance with spatial bounds. A method for muscle bundle parameterization as a function of desired bundle spatial envelope dimensions has been developed. An analysis of actuation performance metrics for bipennate and parallel topologies shows that bipennate artificial muscle bundles can be designed to amplify the muscle contraction, output force, stiffness, or work output capacity, as compared to a parallel bundle with the same envelope dimensions. In addition to quantifying the performance trade space associated with different pennate topologies, analyzing bundles with different fiber boundary conditions reveals how bipennate fluidic artificial muscle bundles can be designed for extensile motion and negative stiffness behaviors. This study, therefore, enables tailoring the muscle bundle parameters for custom compliant actuation applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuator Materials)
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Article
Understanding Shape Memory Alloy Torsional Actuators: From the Conceptual to the Preliminary Design
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030081 - 06 Mar 2022
Viewed by 886
Abstract
Shape memory alloy actuators have been studied for more than thirty years. Many experimental tests have been performed, and several patents have been registered. However, designing such devices is still a challenging task. On the one hand, models are not yet able to [...] Read more.
Shape memory alloy actuators have been studied for more than thirty years. Many experimental tests have been performed, and several patents have been registered. However, designing such devices is still a challenging task. On the one hand, models are not yet able to provide the accuracy required to replace a substantial portion of the experimental tests; on the other hand, it seems that a gap exists in the literature between the main ideas behind SMA torsional actuators and their actual implementation. This work is a systematic effort to fill this gap, helping researchers and designers in developing SMA torsional actuators with a particular focus on aeronautical applications. This paper reports all the steps toward the preliminary design of such devices, using a state-of-the-art, commercially available FEM software. Moreover, the SMA rods’ behaviour under mechanical and thermal loading is thoroughly examined, looking at monitoring stress, temperature, torque and martensite evolution simultaneously, and thus providing a holistic vision of the macroscopic phenomena involved during phase transformations. Simple aerodynamic load predictions are also performed, using Xfoil for three classes of aircraft (medium size UAV, Four-Seat Aircraft and Regional Transport Aircraft). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design of Sensing and Actuation Systems)
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Review
Review of Brake-by-Wire System and Control Technology
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030080 - 04 Mar 2022
Viewed by 939
Abstract
In accordance with the developing trend of “safety, comfort and low-carbon” technology, the market for intelligent X-by-wire chassis is huge. A new requirement of the X-by-wire system, including the response, accuracy, energy consumption and fault-tolerance, is put forward. Based on the analysis of [...] Read more.
In accordance with the developing trend of “safety, comfort and low-carbon” technology, the market for intelligent X-by-wire chassis is huge. A new requirement of the X-by-wire system, including the response, accuracy, energy consumption and fault-tolerance, is put forward. Based on the analysis of the structure and design flow of the brake-by-wire (BBW) system, this paper analyzes the research status and development trend of the control methods of braking force, coordination control strategies and fault-tolerant control of the BBW system. The application possibilities of direct-driving technology in the BBW system are analyzed. At present, the key points of research focus on considering the influence of the multi-field coupling effect in the design, observing and compensating various nonlinear factors, and having a higher requirement for fault-tolerant control. Finally, an intelligent direct-driving BBW system is proposed as a research direction, which takes high efficiency and energy saving as a foothold and aims at breakthroughs in dynamic response, control accuracy and fault-tolerant abilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligent Control of Actuator Systems)
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Article
Discussion on the Stiffness of the Drive Chain in the Legs of Biped Robots
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030079 - 04 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 843
Abstract
Biped robots’ locomotion is realized by driving the joint motion via a drive chain. Therefore, the stiffness of the drive chain is an important factor that affects the drive performance and can influence the locomotion behavior of the biped robot. This work focused [...] Read more.
Biped robots’ locomotion is realized by driving the joint motion via a drive chain. Therefore, the stiffness of the drive chain is an important factor that affects the drive performance and can influence the locomotion behavior of the biped robot. This work focused on the influence of the stiffness of the leg’s drive chain using a mass-spring model based on the biped robot AIRO built in Zhejiang Lab. Methods for determination of the parameters in the proposed model were presented, including the use of ANSYS Workbench to determine the stiffness parameters and the determination of the inertia parameters by dynamic modelling of the biped robot. Simulation results show that special attention should be paid to the stiffness of the drive train of the leg when designing a biped robot to ensure the walking capability of the robot. Using the model proposed in this work, relations between the executed accuracy of the joint trajectories and the stiffness can be analyzed; after that, the stiffness parameters can be optimized. In addition, simulation results also showed that attention should be paid to manufacturing tolerances to ensure the symmetry of the legs of the bipedal robot in order to reduce the vibration of the robot body. Experiments were conducted on AIRO for validating the proposed model and the simulation analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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Article
Robust Adaptive Control of Knee Exoskeleton-Assistant System Based on Nonlinear Disturbance Observer
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030078 - 04 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 912
Abstract
This study presents a control design of an angular position for the exoskeleton knee assistance system based on a model reference adaptive control (MRAC) strategy. Three schemes of the MRAC design have been proposed: the classical MRAC, MRAC with an adaptive disturbance observer, [...] Read more.
This study presents a control design of an angular position for the exoskeleton knee assistance system based on a model reference adaptive control (MRAC) strategy. Three schemes of the MRAC design have been proposed: the classical MRAC, MRAC with an adaptive disturbance observer, and MRAC with a nonlinear observer. The stability analysis for each scheme has been conducted and developed based on the Lyapunov theorem to prove the uniform ultimate bound of tracking and estimation errors. In addition, the adaptive laws have been developed for the proposed schemes according to the stability analysis. The effectiveness of the proposed state and output feedback controllers has been verified via computer simulation. The results based on numerical simulation have shown that the MRAC with a nonlinear observer could give better robustness characteristics and better performance in terms of tracking and estimation errors as compared to the other controllers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotics and Control: State of the Art)
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Article
Design and Testing of a New Piezoelectric-Actuated Symmetric Compliant Microgripper
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030077 - 03 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 788
Abstract
Precise and stable operations in micromanipulation and microassembly require a high-performance microgripper. To improve the predominant static and dynamic characteristics, a novel piezoelectric-actuated compliant microgripper is designed, analyzed, and tested in this paper. The microgripper realizes a large gripping stroke by integrating a [...] Read more.
Precise and stable operations in micromanipulation and microassembly require a high-performance microgripper. To improve the predominant static and dynamic characteristics, a novel piezoelectric-actuated compliant microgripper is designed, analyzed, and tested in this paper. The microgripper realizes a large gripping stroke by integrating a compliant bridge mechanism, an L-shaped mechanism, and a levered parallelogram mechanism. Optimization technology based on response surface analysis is applied to demonstrate the influence of structural parameters on the microgripper performance. Simulation results of finite element analysis reveal the superior performance of the designed microgripper in terms of gripping displacement, mechanism stiffness, equivalent stress, and natural frequency. A gripper prototype has been fabricated, and experimental studies have been conducted to test the microgripper’s physical properties. Experimental results show that the microgripper can grasp micro-objects with a maximum jaw motion stroke of 312.8 μm, natural frequency of 786 Hz, motion resolution of ±0.6 μm, and force resolution of ±1.69 mN. The gripping tests of an optical fiber with a diameter of 200 μm and a metal sheet with a thickness of 100 μm have been performed to demonstrate its gripping capability with position and force control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design and Control of Compliant Manipulators: Volume II)
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Article
Power-Efficient Soft Pneumatic Actuator Using Spring-Frame Collateral Compression Mechanism
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030076 - 02 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1037
Abstract
With the ongoing research on soft robots, the performance of soft actuators needs to be enhanced for more wide robotic applications. Currently, most soft robots based on pneumatic actuation are capable of assisting small systems, but they are not fully suited for supporting [...] Read more.
With the ongoing research on soft robots, the performance of soft actuators needs to be enhanced for more wide robotic applications. Currently, most soft robots based on pneumatic actuation are capable of assisting small systems, but they are not fully suited for supporting joints requiring large force and range of motion. This is due to the actuation characteristics of the pneumatic artificial muscle (PAM); they are relatively slow, inefficient, and experience a significant force reduction when the PAM contracts. Hence, we propose a novel PAM based on a spring-frame collateral compression mechanism. With only a single compressed air source, the external mesh-covered and inner spring-frame actuators of the proposed PAM operate simultaneously to generate considerable force. Additionally, the design of the internal actuator within the void space of PAM reduces the air consumption and consequently improves the actuator’s operating speed and efficiency. We experimentally confirmed that the proposed PAM exhibited 31.2% greater force, was 25.6% faster, and consumed 21.5% lower air compared to the conventional McKibben muscles. The performance enhancement of the proposed PAM improves the performance of soft robots, allowing the development of more compact robots with greater assistive range. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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Article
Leg Configuration Analysis and Prototype Design of Biped Robot Based on Spring Mass Model
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030075 - 02 Mar 2022
Viewed by 861
Abstract
The leg structure with high dynamic stability can make the bionic biped robot have the inherent conditions to perform elastic and highly dynamic motion. Compared with the quadruped robot, the leg structure of the biped robot is more complex and has more degrees [...] Read more.
The leg structure with high dynamic stability can make the bionic biped robot have the inherent conditions to perform elastic and highly dynamic motion. Compared with the quadruped robot, the leg structure of the biped robot is more complex and has more degrees of freedom. This also complicates kinematic and dynamic modeling. In this paper, the kinematics model of a bionic biped robot is established. The leg configuration of the robot is a series parallel hybrid mechanism with five active joints and six passive joints. The mechanism is a spring mass model that interacts organically with the environment and mimics the characteristics of human walking well. By analyzing the topological configuration of leg mechanism, we use the screw theory to establish the forward and inverse kinematics models. Then, we build the prototype, and use a step gait to test the model and prototype. The research of this paper has obvious application significance for the design and iteration of biped robot prototype. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design and Control for Robotics)
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Article
A Soft Electro-Hydraulic Pneumatic Actuator with Self-Sensing Capability toward Multi-Modal Haptic Feedback
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030074 - 02 Mar 2022
Viewed by 926
Abstract
Haptic feedback is appealing for achieving the realistic perception of environmental changes for human bodies in human–computer interaction fields. However, existing haptic actuators have some hurdles such as single mode, poor compatibility, or incomplete tactile information. In this study, we proposed a novel [...] Read more.
Haptic feedback is appealing for achieving the realistic perception of environmental changes for human bodies in human–computer interaction fields. However, existing haptic actuators have some hurdles such as single mode, poor compatibility, or incomplete tactile information. In this study, we proposed a novel way to generate haptic feedback by designing a soft electro-hydraulic pneumatic actuator (SEHPA) with dual drive modes. The SEHPA was structured with silicone films, a silicone air chamber, flexible electrodes, and an insulating liquid dielectric for good human–machine compatibility. The SEHPA had the advantages of high output force (1.5 N at 10 kPa) and displacement (4.5 mm at 5 kPa), as well as various haptic notifications (0~400 Hz vibration). The electro-hydraulic drive method realized smooth output force changes at the millinewton level (0~40 mN) and output displacement changes at the micron level (0~800 μm), which further enriched the details of the tactile experience. In addition, the self-sensing capability of the SEHPA can be dedicated to monitoring and ensuring precise output. The SEHPAs can be potentially mounted on the fingertips to provide accurate tactile sensation once the manipulator touches an object through teleoperation. More invisible information can also be obtained by customizing various haptic notifications. The excellent response behavior and accurate tactile haptic feedback demonstrate the candidate for teleoperation fields. Full article
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Article
Motion Trajectories Prediction of Lower Limb Exoskeleton Based on Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) Networks
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030073 - 26 Feb 2022
Viewed by 961
Abstract
A typical man–machine coupling system could provide the wearer a coordinated and assisted movement by the lower limb exoskeleton. The process of cooperative movement relies on the accurate perception of the wearer’s human movement information and the accurate planning and control of the [...] Read more.
A typical man–machine coupling system could provide the wearer a coordinated and assisted movement by the lower limb exoskeleton. The process of cooperative movement relies on the accurate perception of the wearer’s human movement information and the accurate planning and control of the joint movement of the lower limb exoskeleton. In this paper, a neural network and a Long-Short Term Memory (LSTM) machine learning model method is proposed to predict the actual movement trajectory of the human body’s lower limbs. Then a wearable joint angle measurement device was designed for gait trajectory prediction, which can be used for predictive control through machine learning methods. The experimental results show that the LSTM model can accurately predict the gait trajectory with an average mean square error. This method has practical significance for prediction the trajectory of the lower limb exoskeleton. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design and Control of High-Precision Motion Systems)
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Article
Fault-Tolerant Control of Skid Steering Vehicles Based on Meta-Reinforcement Learning with Situation Embedding
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030072 - 25 Feb 2022
Viewed by 861
Abstract
Meta-reinforcement learning (meta-RL), used in the fault-tolerant control (FTC) problem, learns a meta-trained model from a set of fault situations that have a high-level similarity. However, in the real world, skid-steering vehicles might experience different types of fault situations. The use of a [...] Read more.
Meta-reinforcement learning (meta-RL), used in the fault-tolerant control (FTC) problem, learns a meta-trained model from a set of fault situations that have a high-level similarity. However, in the real world, skid-steering vehicles might experience different types of fault situations. The use of a single initial meta-trained model limits the ability to learn different types of fault situations that do not possess a strong similarity. In this paper, we propose a novel FTC method to mitigate this limitation, by meta-training multiple initial meta-trained models and selecting the most suitable model to adapt to the fault situation. The proposed FTC method is based on the meta deep deterministic policy gradient (meta-DDPG) algorithm, which includes an offline stage and an online stage. In the offline stage, we first train multiple meta-trained models corresponding to different types of fault situations, and then a situation embedding model is trained with the state-transition data generated from meta-trained models. In the online stage, the most suitable meta-trained model is selected to adapt to the current fault situation. The simulation results demonstrate that the proposed FTC method allows skid-steering vehicles to adapt to different types of fault situations stably, while requiring significantly fewer fine-tuning steps than the baseline. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Land Transport)
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Article
Downsizing Effects on Micro and Nano Comb Drives
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030071 - 25 Feb 2022
Viewed by 701
Abstract
Downscaling has been a focal task of Electronics and Electromechanics in the last few decades, and a great engine for technological progress as well. Nevertheless, a scaling operation affects device physics, functioning and performance. The present paper investigates about the impact of scaling [...] Read more.
Downscaling has been a focal task of Electronics and Electromechanics in the last few decades, and a great engine for technological progress as well. Nevertheless, a scaling operation affects device physics, functioning and performance. The present paper investigates about the impact of scaling on a test case compliant electrostatic micro or nano actuator that is under development with two preferred micro fabrication methods, namely, thick SOI and thin amorphous silicon. A series of numerical trials on materials strength, electro-mechanical characteristics, sensitivity and overall actuation performance have been carried out at different grades of down-scaling and of aspect ratio. This gave rise to new design charts that we propose here as a predictive and friendly guide to select the most appropriate micro fabrication method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Miniaturized and Micro Actuators)
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Article
A 2-DOF Impact Actuator for Haptic Application
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030070 - 24 Feb 2022
Viewed by 871
Abstract
The demand for realistic haptic feedback actuators has increased as mobile devices have increased in popularity. However, most current haptic actuators provide limited 1-DOF tactile sensations, such as vibrations. This paper presents a 2-DOF haptic impact actuator that can provide planar directional (e.g., [...] Read more.
The demand for realistic haptic feedback actuators has increased as mobile devices have increased in popularity. However, most current haptic actuators provide limited 1-DOF tactile sensations, such as vibrations. This paper presents a 2-DOF haptic impact actuator that can provide planar directional (e.g., x and y directional) and magnitude tactile cues to a user. We built an impact actuator that was designed to be of such a size that a user can grasp it with one hand. Multiple electromagnets of the actuator drive a permanent magnet to hit the actuator housing, creating an impact. For the control of the impact direction, we assumed the direction of a magnetic field vector at the centre of the actuator would follow that of a reference vector formed by voltage heading into the electromagnet array. The results of magnetic field measurements support our assumption by showing that the trend of the magnetic field vector coincided with that of the reference voltage vector. Furthermore, the measurement of the impact acceleration showed the trend that the impact direction follows the reference voltage vector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Actuators for Haptics)
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Article
Research on an Intelligent Driving Algorithm Based on the Double Super-Resolution Network
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030069 - 23 Feb 2022
Viewed by 822
Abstract
Semantic segmentation plays a very important role in image processing, and has been widely used in intelligent driving, medicine, and other fields. With the development of semantic segmentation, the model has become more and more complex and the resolution of training pictures is [...] Read more.
Semantic segmentation plays a very important role in image processing, and has been widely used in intelligent driving, medicine, and other fields. With the development of semantic segmentation, the model has become more and more complex and the resolution of training pictures is higher and higher, so the requirements for required hardware facilities have become higher and higher. Many high-precision networks are difficult to apply in intelligent driving vehicles with limited hardware conditions, and will bring delay to recognition, which is not allowed in practical application. Based on the Dual Super-Resolution Learning (DSRL) network, this paper proposes a network model for training high-resolution pictures, adding a high-resolution convolution module which improves segmentation accuracy and speed while reducing computation. In a CamVid dataset, taking the road category as an example, IOU is 95.23%, which is 4% higher than DSRL, the real-time segmentation time of the same video is reduced by 46% from 120 s to 65 s, and the segmentation effect is better and faster, which greatly alleviates the recognition delay caused by high-resolution input. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Actuators for Intelligent Electric Vehicles)
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Article
Design and Control of a Nonlinear Series Elastic Cable Actuator Based on the Hill Muscle Model
Actuators 2022, 11(3), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/act11030068 - 22 Feb 2022
Viewed by 782
Abstract
The bionic design of muscles is a research hotspot at present. Many researchers have designed bionic elastic actuators based on the Hill muscle model, and most of them include an active contraction element, passive contraction element and series elastic element, but they need [...] Read more.
The bionic design of muscles is a research hotspot at present. Many researchers have designed bionic elastic actuators based on the Hill muscle model, and most of them include an active contraction element, passive contraction element and series elastic element, but they need more parametric design of mechanical structure and control under the guidance of Hill muscle model. In this research, a nonlinear series elastic cable actuating mechanism is designed in which the parameters of the elastic mechanism are optimized based on the Hill muscle model to fit the nonlinear passive elasticity of a muscle. Through the force–position relationship determined by the Hill muscle model, the output force and position of a nonlinear series elastic cable actuator are controlled to simulate the active contraction performance of a muscle. The experiments show that the proposed design and control method can make the nonlinear cable actuator have good muscle-like output force–displacement characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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