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Actuators, Volume 9, Issue 4 (December 2020) – 50 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Recently, great progress has been made in materials science in terms of the development of new materials with advanced functionalities. The robotics community has paid particular interest to active soft materials for their potential as transducers responding to various stimuli aiming to produce mechanical work. The present review targets encompassing and rationalizing a framework that will help a wider scientific audience to understand, sort, and design future soft actuators and methods enabling complex motions. In this context, a challenging overview of the new materials, as well as their classification and comparison (performances and characteristics), is presented. A series of manufacturing methods are described and compared. The review concludes by considering the future challenges of the field, from materials science and microrobotics points of view. View this paper.
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Open AccessReview
Recent Advances in Design and Actuation of Continuum Robots for Medical Applications
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 142; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040142 - 19 Dec 2020
Viewed by 628
Abstract
Traditional rigid robot application in the medical field is limited due to the limited degrees of freedom caused by their material and structure. Inspired by trunk, tentacles, and snakes, continuum robot (CR) could traverse confined space, manipulate objects in complex environment, and conform [...] Read more.
Traditional rigid robot application in the medical field is limited due to the limited degrees of freedom caused by their material and structure. Inspired by trunk, tentacles, and snakes, continuum robot (CR) could traverse confined space, manipulate objects in complex environment, and conform to curvilinear paths in space. The continuum robot has broad prospect in surgery due to its high dexterity, which can reach circuitous areas of the body and perform precision surgery. Recently, many efforts have been done by researchers to improve the design and actuation methods of continuum robots. Several continuum robots have been applied in clinic surgical interventions and demonstrated superiorities to conventional rigid-link robots. In this paper, we provide an overview of the current development of continuum robots, including the design principles, actuation methods, application prospect, limitations, and challenge. And we also provide perspective for the future development. We hope that with the development of material science, Engineering ethics, and manufacture technology, new methods can be applied to manufacture continuum robots for specific surgical procedures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soft Actuation: State of the Art and Outlook)
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Open AccessArticle
A Compact Adjustable Stiffness Rotary Actuator Based on Linear Springs: Working Principle, Design, and Experimental Verification
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040141 - 18 Dec 2020
Viewed by 458
Abstract
Inspired by improving the adaptive capability of the robot to external impacts or shocks, the adjustable stiffness behavior in joints is investigated to ensure conformity with the safety index. This paper proposes a new soft actuation unit, namely Adjustable Stiffness Rotary Actuator (ASRA), [...] Read more.
Inspired by improving the adaptive capability of the robot to external impacts or shocks, the adjustable stiffness behavior in joints is investigated to ensure conformity with the safety index. This paper proposes a new soft actuation unit, namely Adjustable Stiffness Rotary Actuator (ASRA), induced by a novel optimization of the elastic energy in an adjusting stiffness mechanism. Specifically, a stiffness transmission is configured by three pairs of antagonistically linear springs with linkage bars. The rotational disk and link bars assist the simplified stiffness control based on a linear transmission. To enhance the elastic energy efficiency, the force compressions of the linear springs are set to be perpendicular to the three-spoke output element, i.e., the output link direction. Besides, the ASRA model is also formed to investigate the theoretical capabilities of the stiffness output and passive energy. As a simulated result, a high passive energy storage ability can be achieved. Then, several experimental scenarios are performed with integral sliding mode controllers to verify the physical characteristics of the ASRA. As trial results, the fast transient response and high accuracy of both the position and stiffness tracking tests are expressed, in turn, independent and simultaneous control cases. Moreover, the real output torque is measured to investigate its reflecting stiffness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Fluid Power Systems and Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Microgripper Based on Simple Compliance Configurations, Improved by Using Parameterization
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040140 - 15 Dec 2020
Viewed by 416
Abstract
The design of a novel electrothermal microgripper device is shown, which is based on an improved chevron type actuator developed considering their elements parameterization, whose resistive model is also provided. The performance of the microgripper’s parameters, such as displacement, force, and temperature distribution, [...] Read more.
The design of a novel electrothermal microgripper device is shown, which is based on an improved chevron type actuator developed considering their elements parameterization, whose resistive model is also provided. The performance of the microgripper’s parameters, such as displacement, force, and temperature distribution, with convection for the voltage range from 0 up to 5 V, is evaluated through numerical and analytical simulation. Microgripper design was also improved with aid of parameterization. The effect on the microgripper performance due to its thickness is also analyzed, finding a considerable increment in force, when thickness increases. Its main advantage is given by the simplicity of the compliance arrangement of the microgrippers jaws. Considering convection, when 5 V are applied, 37.72 °C was generated at the jaw’s tips of the Improved Microgripper 2 (IMG2), implemented with silicon, this relatively low temperature increases its capabilities of application. When the IMG2 is implemented with polysilicon, its response is competitive comparing with a more complex microgripper, increase of displacement (50%) is shown, but a decrement of force (30%). The diameters allowed for the subjection objects are found between 84.64 µm and 108 µm, with weights lower than 612.2 µg. Some tests of subjection were performed using microcylinders of Au, glass ceramic, polycarbonate and carbon fiber, showing a permissible stress on them, considering its Young’s modulus, as well as the total reaction force induced. All simulations were done on Ansys software. The results demonstrate the feasibility of the future microgripper fabrication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Precision Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Performance of TMDI for Tall Building Damping
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 139; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040139 - 15 Dec 2020
Viewed by 376
Abstract
This study investigates the vibration reduction of tall wind-excited buildings using a tuned mass damper (TMD) with an inerter (TMDI). The performance of the TMDI is computed as a function of the floor to which the inerter is grounded as this parameter strongly [...] Read more.
This study investigates the vibration reduction of tall wind-excited buildings using a tuned mass damper (TMD) with an inerter (TMDI). The performance of the TMDI is computed as a function of the floor to which the inerter is grounded as this parameter strongly influences the vibration reduction of the building and for the case when the inerter is grounded to the earth whereby the absolute acceleration of the corresponding inerter terminal is zero. Simulations are made for broadband and harmonic excitations of the first three bending modes, and the conventional TMD is used as a benchmark. It is found that the inerter performs best when grounded to the earth because, then, the inerter force is in proportion to the absolute acceleration of only the pendulum mass, but not to the relative acceleration of the two inerter terminals, which is demonstrated by the mass matrix. However, if the inerter is grounded to a floor below the pendulum mass, the TMDI only outperforms the TMD if the inerter is grounded to a floor within approximately the first third of the building’s height. For the most realistic case, where the inerter is grounded to a floor in the vicinity of the pendulum mass, the TMDI performs far worse than the classical TMD. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Design and Evaluation of a Pediatric Lower-Limb Exoskeleton Joint Actuator
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040138 - 11 Dec 2020
Viewed by 469
Abstract
Lower-limb exoskeletons have undergone significant developments for aiding in the ambulation of adults with gait impairment. However, advancements in exoskeletons for the pediatric population have comparatively been lacking. This paper presents a newly developed joint actuator designed to drive the hip and knee [...] Read more.
Lower-limb exoskeletons have undergone significant developments for aiding in the ambulation of adults with gait impairment. However, advancements in exoskeletons for the pediatric population have comparatively been lacking. This paper presents a newly developed joint actuator designed to drive the hip and knee joints of a pediatric lower-limb exoskeleton. The performance requirements associated with the actuators were determined based on a target audience of children ages 6–11 years old. The developed actuators incorporate a hybrid belt-chain transmission driven by a frameless brushless DC motor. One actuator underwent benchtop testing to evaluate its performance with respect to their torque production, bandwidth properties, backdrivability in terms of inertia and friction characteristics, speed capabilities, and operational noise levels. As a preliminary validation, a set of actuators were placed in a prototype orthosis to move a pediatric test dummy in gait tracking via state-feedback control. The results showed that the newly developed actuators meet the design specifications and are suitable for use in the pediatric exoskeleton being developed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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Open AccessReview
Biointerface Materials for Cellular Adhesion: Recent Progress and Future Prospects
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040137 - 11 Dec 2020
Viewed by 358
Abstract
While many natural instances of adhesion between cells and biological macromolecules have been elucidated, understanding how to mimic these adhesion events remains to be a challenge. Discovering new biointerface materials that can provide an appropriate environment, and in some cases, also providing function [...] Read more.
While many natural instances of adhesion between cells and biological macromolecules have been elucidated, understanding how to mimic these adhesion events remains to be a challenge. Discovering new biointerface materials that can provide an appropriate environment, and in some cases, also providing function similar to the body’s own extracellular matrix, would be highly beneficial to multiple existing applications in biomedical and biological engineering, and provide the necessary insight for the advancement of new technology. Such examples of current applications that would benefit include biosensors, high-throughput screening and tissue engineering. From a mechanical perspective, these biointerfaces would function as bioactuators that apply focal adhesion points onto cells, allowing them to move and migrate along a surface, making biointerfaces a very relevant application in the field of actuators. While it is evident that great strides in progress have been made in the area of synthetic biointerfaces, we must also acknowledge their current limitations as described in the literature, leading to an inability to completely function and dynamically respond like natural biointerfaces. In this review, we discuss the methods, materials and, possible applications of biointerface materials used in the current literature, and the trends for future research in this area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Medical Instruments)
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Open AccessArticle
A Novel Computer-Controlled Maskless Fabrication Process for Pneumatic Soft Actuators
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040136 - 11 Dec 2020
Viewed by 423
Abstract
Template-based and additive manufacturing techniques have demonstrated some fabrication routes for creating pneumatic soft actuators. However, as the complexity and capability of the actuators continue to develop, the limitations of these approaches are becoming evident. These include difficulties for design variations, process speed [...] Read more.
Template-based and additive manufacturing techniques have demonstrated some fabrication routes for creating pneumatic soft actuators. However, as the complexity and capability of the actuators continue to develop, the limitations of these approaches are becoming evident. These include difficulties for design variations, process speed and resolution, material compatibility and scalability, which hinder and restrict both the possible capabilities of the technology and its transition from research to industry. This body of work presents a computer-controlled, maskless manufacturing process with a different approach to allow for high-speed, low-cost and flexible creation of pneumatic soft actuation networks comprising multi-material construction. This was investigated through a bespoke fabrication platform that provides computer-controlled localised plasma treatment to selectively modify the chemical behaviour on the surface of silicone and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bodies. The altered surface chemistry facilitated selective bond formation between the treated parts of the surface and, consequently, greater design variation and control over the pneumatic chambers that were formed. Selective treatment patterns allowed nonlinear pneumatic chamber designs to be created, and the strength of bonded silicone structures was shown to facilitate large deformations in the actuators. Furthermore, the different interactions between the plasma and silicone were leveraged to achieve feature sizes of <1 mm and treatment speeds of 20 mm2 per second of exposure. Two multi-material pneumatic soft actuators were then fabricated to demonstrate the potential of the platform as an automated manufacturing route for soft actuators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pneumatic Soft Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
A Robust Method Based on Dual Encoders to Eliminate Velocity Ripple for Modular Drive Joints
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040135 - 10 Dec 2020
Viewed by 360
Abstract
Velocity ripple is one of the common problems of modular drive joints, which easily induces vibration and noise and affects motion accuracy. In order to improve the motion control accuracy, a robust method based on dual encoders to eliminate velocity ripple is proposed [...] Read more.
Velocity ripple is one of the common problems of modular drive joints, which easily induces vibration and noise and affects motion accuracy. In order to improve the motion control accuracy, a robust method based on dual encoders to eliminate velocity ripple is proposed in this paper. The method contains a velocity ripple elimination controller (VREC), a rigid-body velocity solver (RBVS), and a proportional–integral (PI) controller. Feeding back the VREC output to the PI controller based on the rigid-body velocity obtained from the weighted sum of dual encoders in the RBVS, an equivalent system damping term was added into the system. Therefore, the velocity ripple can be suppressed effectively with the adjustable damping term composed of control parameters. Above all, the proposed method has only one more parameter to further eliminate velocity ripple compared to the pure PI method and, meanwhile, has apparent advantages over the conventional method, such as fewer parameters and full frequency ripple elimination, as well as robustness to input disturbance and modular drive joint load inertia changes. This proposed method’s effectiveness is verified by simulations in MATLAB and experiments in the modular drive joint platform. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Actuators for Robot Manipulators)
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Open AccessArticle
Active Motion Control of a Knee Exoskeleton Driven by Antagonistic Pneumatic Muscle Actuators
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040134 - 10 Dec 2020
Viewed by 392
Abstract
The pneumatic muscle actuator (PMA) has been widely applied in the researches of rehabilitation robotic devices for its high power to weight ratio and intrinsic compliance in the past decade. However, the high nonlinearity and hysteresis behavior of PMA limit its practical application. [...] Read more.
The pneumatic muscle actuator (PMA) has been widely applied in the researches of rehabilitation robotic devices for its high power to weight ratio and intrinsic compliance in the past decade. However, the high nonlinearity and hysteresis behavior of PMA limit its practical application. Hence, the control strategy plays an important role in improving the performance of PMA for the effectiveness of rehabilitation devices. In this paper, a PMA-based knee exoskeleton based on ergonomics is proposed. Based on the designed knee exoskeleton, a novel proxy-based sliding mode control (PSMC) is introduced to obtain the accurate trajectory tracking. Compared with conventional control approaches, this new PSMC can obtain better performance for the designed PMA-based exoskeleton. Experimental results indicate good tracking performance of this controller, which provides a good foundation for the further development of assist-as-needed training strategies in gait rehabilitation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Medical Instruments)
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of High Force Voice Coil Motors for Magnetic Levitation
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040133 - 09 Dec 2020
Viewed by 425
Abstract
A voice coil motor is a simple and linear electromagnetic actuator. Since it has a non-contact force and very low stiffness, it is widely used for precision positioning devices including magnetic levitation systems. During magnetic levitation, high force of a voice coil motor [...] Read more.
A voice coil motor is a simple and linear electromagnetic actuator. Since it has a non-contact force and very low stiffness, it is widely used for precision positioning devices including magnetic levitation systems. During magnetic levitation, high force of a voice coil motor is required to compensate for the weight of the device and ensure a fast dynamic response. In this paper, two types of voice coil motors were analyzed by their volumetric change. The change of the generated force according to the volumetric change was inspected by finite element simulation models. The enhancement of force was dependent on which type of the voice coil motor is used, which component is enlarged, and which direction is the voice coil motor expands in. Based on the analysis results, two voice coil motors were optimally designed for a magnetic levitation positioning device. As a result of the design, it was confirmed that different types of voice coil motor generate different forces even if they have the same volume. For the two types of voice coil motors, the force differed by up to 40%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electromagnetic Levitation Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Fault Estimation and Fault-Tolerant Control for the Pump-Controlled Electrohydraulic System
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040132 - 05 Dec 2020
Viewed by 508
Abstract
This paper proposes a fault estimation and fault-tolerant control strategy with two observers for a pump-controlled electro-hydraulic system (PCEHS) under the presence of internal leakage faults and an external loading force. The mathematical model of the PCEHS is dedicatedly derived in the state-space [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a fault estimation and fault-tolerant control strategy with two observers for a pump-controlled electro-hydraulic system (PCEHS) under the presence of internal leakage faults and an external loading force. The mathematical model of the PCEHS is dedicatedly derived in the state-space form for developing control methodology. Two different observers are developed in which an extended state observer is applied to estimate the internal leakage flow rate, and a disturbance observer is used to deal with the external loading force. Then, the proposed control is designed based on the backstepping sliding mode technique in which estimated information from the observers is taken into consideration to guarantee the working performance of the system. With the proposed methodology, the robustness and stability of the controlled system are theoretically analyzed and proven by the Lyapunov theorem. Comparative simulation results are given to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed methodology through different testing conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Fluid Power Systems and Actuators)
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Open AccessReview
Programmable Stimuli-Responsive Actuators for Complex Motions in Soft Robotics: Concept, Design and Challenges
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040131 - 05 Dec 2020
Viewed by 702
Abstract
During the last years, great progress was made in material science in terms of concept, design and fabrication of new composite materials with conferred properties and desired functionalities. The scientific community paid particular interest to active soft materials, such as soft actuators, for [...] Read more.
During the last years, great progress was made in material science in terms of concept, design and fabrication of new composite materials with conferred properties and desired functionalities. The scientific community paid particular interest to active soft materials, such as soft actuators, for their potential as transducers responding to various stimuli aiming to produce mechanical work. Inspired by this, materials engineers today are developing multidisciplinary approaches to produce new active matters, focusing on the kinematics allowed by the material itself more than on the possibilities offered by its design. Traditionally, more complex motions beyond pure elongation and bending are addressed by the robotics community. The present review targets encompassing and rationalizing a framework which will help a wider scientific audience to understand, sort and design future soft actuators and methods enabling complex motions. Special attention is devoted to recent progress in developing innovative stimulus-responsive materials and approaches for complex motion programming for soft robotics. In this context, a challenging overview of the new materials as well as their classification and comparison (performances and characteristics) are proposed. In addition, the great potential of soft transducers are outlined in terms of kinematic capabilities, illustrated by the related application. Guidelines are provided to design actuators and to integrate asymmetry enabling motions along any of the six basic degrees of freedom (translations and rotations), and strategies towards the programming of more complex motions are discussed. As a final note, a series of manufacturing methods are described and compared, from molding to 3D and 4D printing. The review ends with a Perspectives section, from material science and microrobotic points of view, on the soft materials’ future and close future challenges to be overcome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soft Actuation: State of the Art and Outlook)
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Open AccessArticle
A Low-Cost Miniature Electrohydrostatic Actuator System
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040130 - 04 Dec 2020
Viewed by 389
Abstract
Hydraulic linear actuators dominate in high power applications but are much less common in low power (<100 W) systems. One reason for this is the cost: electric actuators in this power range generally exhibit lower performance but are also much less expensive than [...] Read more.
Hydraulic linear actuators dominate in high power applications but are much less common in low power (<100 W) systems. One reason for this is the cost: electric actuators in this power range generally exhibit lower performance but are also much less expensive than hydraulic systems. However, in recent years, some miniature hydraulic components have been mass produced, driving down prices. This paper presents the application of these low-cost components, together with a novel very low-cost 3D-printed valve to create an electrohydrostatic actuator. Capable of very high power and force density, this system is competitive on cost with lower-performing electric actuators. This paper presents models for the system’s performance, as well as experimental validation data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electro-Hydraulic Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Hydraulic Switching Control Supplementing Speed Variable Hydraulic Drives
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040129 - 04 Dec 2020
Viewed by 379
Abstract
Primary control of linear motion by variable speed electric motors driving a hydraulic cylinder via a constant displacement pump is an established and successful concept with a frequent use in industry. One problem arises when low or zero motion speed has to be [...] Read more.
Primary control of linear motion by variable speed electric motors driving a hydraulic cylinder via a constant displacement pump is an established and successful concept with a frequent use in industry. One problem arises when low or zero motion speed has to be realized under high pump pressure conditions. Such load scenarios occur frequently in certain pressing processes, e.g., for sintering or veneering. Most pumps have a lower speed limit, below which critical tribological conditions occur which impair lifespan and efficiency. In addition, pump speed control and pump fluctuation suffer from the mixed lubrication conditions in such an operation range. For a circumvention of such low speed pump operation, a digital valve control concept is presented and studied in this paper. Valve control is used in load holding phases with low speed. Pressure is provided by an accumulator which is charged by the pump in short charging cycles at reasonable pump speeds. It is shown that the mean control error during load holding phase lies within the desired band and the fluctuations of the control force are lower than those of the pump control. In addition, the unfavorable pump operation conditions can be avoided via digital control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electro-Hydraulic Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Compound Fault Diagnosis and Sequential Prognosis for Electric Scooter with Uncertainties
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040128 - 03 Dec 2020
Viewed by 324
Abstract
This paper addresses diagnosis and prognosis problems for an electric scooter subjected to parameter uncertainties and compound faults (i.e., permanent fault and intermittent fault with non-monotonic degradation). First, the diagnostic bond graph in linear fractional transformation form is used to model the uncertain [...] Read more.
This paper addresses diagnosis and prognosis problems for an electric scooter subjected to parameter uncertainties and compound faults (i.e., permanent fault and intermittent fault with non-monotonic degradation). First, the diagnostic bond graph in linear fractional transformation form is used to model the uncertain electric scooter and derive the analytical redundancy relations incorporating the nominal part and uncertain part, based on which the adaptive thresholds for robust fault detection and the fault signature matrix for fault isolation can be obtained. Second, an adaptive enhanced unscented Kalman filter is proposed to identify the fault magnitudes and distinguish the fault types where an auxiliary detector is introduced to capture the appearing and disappearing moments of intermittent fault. Third, a dynamic model with usage dependent degradation coefficient is developed to describe the degradation process of intermittent fault under various usage conditions. Due to the variation of degradation coefficient and the presence of non-monotonic degradation characteristic under some usage conditions, a sequential prognosis method is proposed where the reactivation of the prognoser is governed by the reactivation events. Finally, the proposed methods are validated by experiment results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Land Transport)
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Open AccessArticle
Manufacturing Technology on a Mechatronics Line Assisted by Autonomous Robotic Systems, Robotic Manipulators and Visual Servoing Systems
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040127 - 03 Dec 2020
Viewed by 542
Abstract
This paper proposes the implementation of an assisting technology to a processing/reprocessing mechatronics line (P/RML), comprising the following: two autonomous robotic systems (ARSs), two robotic manipulators (RMs) and three visual servoing systems (VSSs). The P/RML has four line-shaped workstations assisted by two ARSs—wheeled [...] Read more.
This paper proposes the implementation of an assisting technology to a processing/reprocessing mechatronics line (P/RML), comprising the following: two autonomous robotic systems (ARSs), two robotic manipulators (RMs) and three visual servoing systems (VSSs). The P/RML has four line-shaped workstations assisted by two ARSs—wheeled mobile robots (WMRs): one of them equipped with an RM, used for manipulation, and the other one used for transport. Two types of VSSs—eye to hand and eye in hand—are used as actuators for precise positioning of RMs to catch and release the work-piece. The work-piece visits stations successively as it is moved along the line for processing. If the processed piece does not pass the quality test, it is taken from the last stations of the P/RML and it is transported to the first station where it will be considered for reprocessing. The P/RML, assisted by ARSs, RMs and VSSs, was modelled with the synchronized hybrid Petri nets (SHPN). To control the ARSs, we propose the use of trajectory-tracking and sliding-mode control (TTSMC). The precise positioning that allows the picking up and releasing of the work-piece was performed using two types of VSSs. In the case of the first one, termed eye to hand VSS, the cameras have a fixed position, located at the last and the first workstations of the P/RML. For the second one, named eye in hand VSS, the camera is located at the end effector of the RM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Actuators for Robot Manipulators)
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Open AccessArticle
Improvement of Comfort in Suspension Seats with a Pneumatic Negative Stiffness System
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040126 - 03 Dec 2020
Viewed by 378
Abstract
This paper presents a Negative Stiffness System (NSS) for vibration isolation and comfort improvement of vehicle seats, which enhances the performance of optimized traditional passive seat suspensions. The NSS is based on a set of two Pneumatic Linear Actuators (PLAs) added to a [...] Read more.
This paper presents a Negative Stiffness System (NSS) for vibration isolation and comfort improvement of vehicle seats, which enhances the performance of optimized traditional passive seat suspensions. The NSS is based on a set of two Pneumatic Linear Actuators (PLAs) added to a seat supported by a pneumatic spring. One end of each PLA is joined to the seat while the other end is joined to the vehicle frame. In static conditions, the PLAs remain horizontal, whereas in dynamic conditions, their vertical forces work against the pneumatic spring, reducing the overall dynamic stiffness and improving passenger comfort. The paper presents a stability analysis of the highly nonlinear dynamic system, as well as the numerical determination of the optimum PLA pressure for a given passenger mass that maximises comfort without instabilities. Finally, the performance of the proposed NSS is compared to that of a traditionally optimized passive seat suspension via simulations of an eight-degree-of-freedom vehicle model traversing several road profiles and speed bumps. Comfort improvements between 10% and 35% are found in all tests considered. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Highly Stretchable Polymer Optical Fiber for Mechanical Sensing in Artificial Tendons: Towards Novel Sensors for Soft Robotics
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040125 - 30 Nov 2020
Viewed by 418
Abstract
The control of tendon-driven actuators is mainly affected by the tendon behavior under stress or strain. The measurement of these parameters on artificial tendons brings benefits on the control and novel approaches for soft robotics actuators. This paper presents the development of polymer [...] Read more.
The control of tendon-driven actuators is mainly affected by the tendon behavior under stress or strain. The measurement of these parameters on artificial tendons brings benefits on the control and novel approaches for soft robotics actuators. This paper presents the development of polymer optical fiber sensors fabricated through the light spinning polymerization process (LPS-POF) in artificial tendons. This fiber has exceptionally low Young’s modulus and high strain limits, suitable for sensing applications in soft structures. Two different configurations are tested, indicating the possibility of measuring strain and stress applied in the tendon with determination coefficients of 0.996 and 0.994, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Actuators Technologies for the Next Generation of Robots and Industry)
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Open AccessArticle
A Dumbbell Shaped Piezoelectric Motor Driven by the First-Order Torsional and the First-Order Flexural Vibrations
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040124 - 30 Nov 2020
Viewed by 356
Abstract
A piezoelectric motor driven by the first-order torsional and first-order flexural (T/F) vibrations is designed, fabricated, and tested in this study. The actuating force is generated by the torsional vibration of the dumbbell-shaped vibrator, while the elliptical motion shape is adjusted with the [...] Read more.
A piezoelectric motor driven by the first-order torsional and first-order flexural (T/F) vibrations is designed, fabricated, and tested in this study. The actuating force is generated by the torsional vibration of the dumbbell-shaped vibrator, while the elliptical motion shape is adjusted with the flexural vibration. The rotor, pressed onto the vibrator’s lateral surface, is frictionally driven with the vibrator. Here, the torsional vibration, the shear modes of piezoelectric ceramics, and the driving method may contribute to high torque and high output power. To test the feasibility of our proposal, first, a prototype of the T/F vibrator is built and its vibration properties are explored. As predicted, the torsional and flexural vibrations are excited on the vibrator. Then, the load characteristics of the piezoelectric motor are investigated. The maximal torque, the no-load rotation speed, and maximal output power are 4.3 Nm, 125 r/min, and 16.9 W, respectively. The results imply that using the first-order torsional and the first-order flexural vibrations is a feasible method to achieve high torque and high output power of piezoelectric motors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section High Torque/Power Density Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Control and Performance Analysis of Variable Speed Pump-Controlled Asymmetric Cylinder Systems under Four-Quadrant Operation
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040123 - 28 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 359
Abstract
Since the energy crisis, the further development of a variable speed pump-controlled hydraulic system driven by an electric machine has attracted increasing attention during the past few years. As a response to this, an innovative double pump-controlled asymmetric cylinder system (DPC) and its [...] Read more.
Since the energy crisis, the further development of a variable speed pump-controlled hydraulic system driven by an electric machine has attracted increasing attention during the past few years. As a response to this, an innovative double pump-controlled asymmetric cylinder system (DPC) and its control method are proposed in this study. The purpose of this study is to investigate the performance of two variable speed pump-controlled systems for asymmetric cylinders under a four-quadrant operating condition, in comparison with single pump control (SPC). The four-quadrant operating principles of the two systems are analyzed by simulation. Simulation models for both systems are introduced, and a position control method is proposed, with a tracking differentiator and speed feedforward, plus proportional-integral-derivative (PID) for four-quadrant operation. The DPC model was validated with the measurement of a crane. The simulations using the validated model were performed with a position reference and a varying load (four-quadrant operating arm of an excavator). The results demonstrated that the velocity fluctuation is eliminated by using the DPC instead of the SPC, and the position control performance of the DPC is better compared to the SPC, although the energy efficiency decreases slightly. Hence, the proposed DPC and its position control method are feasible for the four-quadrant operation of asymmetric cylinders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electro-Hydraulic Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Active Fault-Tolerant Control Strategy for More Electric Aircraft under Actuation System Failure
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040122 - 27 Nov 2020
Viewed by 451
Abstract
The aircraft hydraulic system is very important for the actuation system and its failure has led to a number of catastrophic accidents in the past few years. The reasons for hydraulic loss can be leakage, blockage, and structural damage. Fortunately, the development of [...] Read more.
The aircraft hydraulic system is very important for the actuation system and its failure has led to a number of catastrophic accidents in the past few years. The reasons for hydraulic loss can be leakage, blockage, and structural damage. Fortunately, the development of more electric aircraft (MEA) provides a new means of solving this difficult problem. This paper designs an active fault tolerant control (AFTC) method for MEA suffering from total hydraulic loss and actuation system failure. Two different kinds of scenarios are considered: leakage/blockage and vertical tail damage. With the application of the dissimilar redundant actuation system (DRAS) in MEA, a switching mechanism can be used to change the hydraulic actuation (HA) system into an electro-hydrostatic actuation (EHA) system when the whole hydraulic system fails. Taking account of the gap between HA and EHA, a degraded model is built. As for vertical tail damage, engine differential thrust control is adopted to help regain lateral-directional stability. The engine thrust dynamics are modeled and the mapping relationship between engine differential thrust and rudder deflection is formulated. Moreover, model reference control (MRC) and linear quadratic regulator (LQR) are used to design the AFTC method. Comparative simulation with the NASA generic transportation model (GTM) is carried out to prove the proposed strategy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Aircraft Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Thinner Compliant Electrodes on Self-Clearability of Dielectric Elastomer Actuators
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040121 - 26 Nov 2020
Viewed by 419
Abstract
A metalized plastic capacitor stands a higher chance to clear faults when embodied with thinner electrodes. However, it is not clear whether the same thickness effect applies to carbon-based compliant electrodes in clearing the defects in dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA). This experimental study [...] Read more.
A metalized plastic capacitor stands a higher chance to clear faults when embodied with thinner electrodes. However, it is not clear whether the same thickness effect applies to carbon-based compliant electrodes in clearing the defects in dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA). This experimental study showed that charcoal-powder compliant electrodes act like fuses and current limiters to successfully clear the defects of an acrylic dielectric elastomer actuator, provided a very thin electrode coating. For example, DEAs with 3 μm thick (average) charcoal-powder electrodes fast cleared faults and sustained high breakdown strength (300 to 400 MV/m), but the ones with thicker charcoal-powder electrodes (30 μm thick on average) succumbed to persisting breakdowns in a weaker electric field (200 to 300 MV/m). Thermo-gravitational analysis and differential scanning calorimetry showed that dielectric elastomer (3M VHB F9473PC) started to ignite at 350 C, and charcoal powders (Mungyo charcoal pastel MP-12CP) started burning above 450 C. This confirmed that flash ignition and its damping of charcoal powder is possible only with a very thin electrode coating relative to acrylic elastomer substrate thickness. Too thick of a charcoal-powder coating could lead to the spread of burning beyond the initial flash point, and incomplete burning that punctures the dielectric layer but shorts across opposite electrodes. With this insight, one can design self-clearable electrodes to improve the dielectric strength of dielectric elastomer actuators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (DEAs))
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Open AccessArticle
Fault Tolerant Control of Vehicle Lateral Dynamic Using a New Pneumatic Forces Multiple Model
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040120 - 26 Nov 2020
Viewed by 464
Abstract
This paper presents a new accurate multiple model of nonlinear pneumatic lateral forces. The bicycle representation is used in order to build up an easy implemented vehicle dynamic model. Moreover, the Takagi–Sugeno fuzzy approach is applied in order to handle the vehicle model [...] Read more.
This paper presents a new accurate multiple model of nonlinear pneumatic lateral forces. The bicycle representation is used in order to build up an easy implemented vehicle dynamic model. Moreover, the Takagi–Sugeno fuzzy approach is applied in order to handle the vehicle model nonlinearities. This structure allows for taking into account the small variation of the vehicle longitudinal velocity. Subsequently, a Fault Tolerant Control strategy that is based on a bank of fuzzy Luenberger observers is proposed. The robustness of the control scheme against external noises is guaranteed by applying H performance. Sufficient stability conditions that are based on Lyapunov method are formulated as Linear Matrix Inequality. Thus, allowing the computation of the observers’ and the controllers’ gains by using MATLAB. Finally, the simulation examples are performed to show the effectiveness of our proposal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Land Transport)
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Open AccessArticle
On-Line Modal Parameter Identification Applied to Linear and Nonlinear Vibration Absorbers
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040119 - 25 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 425
Abstract
A solution of the vibration attention problem on a flexible structure from a dynamic vibration absorption perspective is experimentally and numerically studied in this article. Linear and nonlinear dynamic vibration absorbers are properly implemented on a primary structure of n degrees of freedom [...] Read more.
A solution of the vibration attention problem on a flexible structure from a dynamic vibration absorption perspective is experimentally and numerically studied in this article. Linear and nonlinear dynamic vibration absorbers are properly implemented on a primary structure of n degrees of freedom through a modal decomposition analysis and using the tuning condition when the primary system has one single degree of freedom. A time-domain algebraic identification scheme for on-line modal parameter estimation of flexible structures is presented. A fast frequency estimation of harmonic excitation force is also obtained. A Hilbert transform analysis of the frequency response function for the case of nonlinear dynamic vibration absorption is introduced. In this way, influence of this particular passive nonlinear control device on system dynamic response can be determined. The proposed approach is validated on an harmonically perturbed building-like structure, which is discretized in a finite number of degrees of freedom. The flexible structure is subjected to resonant operational conditions, and coupled to a pendulum vibration absorber configured as a tuned mass damper as well as an autoparametric system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Actuators for System Identification, Vibration Analysis, and Control)
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Open AccessArticle
An Adaptive Fast Terminal Sliding Mode Controller of Exercise-Assisted Robotic Arm for Elbow Joint Rehabilitation Featuring Pneumatic Artificial Muscle Actuator
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040118 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 482
Abstract
Due to the time-varying nonlinear dynamic, uncertain model and hysteresis characteristics of the pneumatic artificial muscle (PAM) actuator, it is not easy to apply model-based control algorithms for monitoring, as well as controlling, the operation of systems driven by PAM actuators. Hence, the [...] Read more.
Due to the time-varying nonlinear dynamic, uncertain model and hysteresis characteristics of the pneumatic artificial muscle (PAM) actuator, it is not easy to apply model-based control algorithms for monitoring, as well as controlling, the operation of systems driven by PAM actuators. Hence, the main aim of this work is to propose an intelligent controller named adaptive sliding controller adding compensator (ASC + C) to operate a robotic arm, featuring a pneumatic artificial muscle actuator, which assists rehabilitation exercise of the elbow joint function. The structure of the proposed controller is a combination between the fuzzy logic technique and Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) algorithm. In which, the input of fuzzy logic controller is the sliding surface, meanwhile, its output is the estimated value of the unknown nonlinear function, meaning that the model-based requirement is released. A PID controller works as a compensator with online learning ability and is designed to compensate because of the approximate error and hysteresis characteristic. Additionally, to improve convergence and to obtain stability, a fast terminal sliding manifold is introduced and online learning laws for parameters of the controller are attainted through the stable criterion of Lyapunov. Finally, an experimental apparatus is also fabricated to evaluate control response of the system. The experimental result confirmed strongly the ability of the proposed controller, which indicates that the ASC + C can obtain a steady state tracking error less than 5 degrees and a position response without overshoot. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Medical Instruments)
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Open AccessArticle
On-Line Open-Phase Fault Detection Method for Switched Reluctance Motors with Bus Current Measurement
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040117 - 16 Nov 2020
Viewed by 503
Abstract
This article introduces an on-line fault diagnosis (FD) system to detect and recognize open-phase faults in switched reluctance motors (SRMs). Both tasks, detection and recognition, are based on functions built with the same information but from different sources. Specifically, these functions are constructed [...] Read more.
This article introduces an on-line fault diagnosis (FD) system to detect and recognize open-phase faults in switched reluctance motors (SRMs). Both tasks, detection and recognition, are based on functions built with the same information but from different sources. Specifically, these functions are constructed from bus current measurement provided by a sensor and from the estimate of such a current provided by an extended Kalman filter (EKF) that performs the estimation from only rotor angular position measurements. In short, the FD system only requires two measurements for employment: bus current and angular position. In order to show its efficacy, results from numerical simulations (performed in a virtual test bench) are presented. Specifically, these simulations involve the dynamics of the SRM, including the magnetic phenomena caused by the analyzed faults. The motor dynamics were obtained with finite element simulations, which guarantee results close to the actual ones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Precision Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis and Modeling of Attractive Force Using an Electropermanent Magnet and Electromagnetic in a Novel Wobble Gripper
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040116 - 14 Nov 2020
Viewed by 536
Abstract
An electropermanent magnet (EM) can be fixed or rotated without applying the additional power of a wobble motor. This consists of a neodymium magnet and semi-hard magnet. A model to design a wobble motor for a wobble gripper without finite element analyses and [...] Read more.
An electropermanent magnet (EM) can be fixed or rotated without applying the additional power of a wobble motor. This consists of a neodymium magnet and semi-hard magnet. A model to design a wobble motor for a wobble gripper without finite element analyses and to predict the attraction force according to the permanent magnet and current is necessary. In this paper, a force model is derived using distribution parameter and magnetic circuit analyses, including flux loss and fringing effects. It is not easy to design a complete magnetic circuit model considering the loss effects, but it can be constructed using a relatively straightforward method that simplifies the paths of leaked fluxes into arcs and straight lines. The model was verified by comparing the results of finite element analyses with measurements of two prototypes using internal and external fixed cases. The model properly predicts the attractive force between the rotor and stator and can be used in the initial design of a gripper that holds or rotates with the electropermanent magnet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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Open AccessReview
Advances in Stimuli-Responsive Soft Robots with Integrated Hybrid Materials
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040115 - 14 Nov 2020
Viewed by 794
Abstract
Hybrid stimuli-responsive soft robots have been extensively developed by incorporating multi-functional materials, such as carbon-based nanoparticles, nanowires, low-dimensional materials, and liquid crystals. In addition to the general functions of conventional soft robots, hybrid stimuli-responsive soft robots have displayed significantly advanced multi-mechanical, electrical, or/and [...] Read more.
Hybrid stimuli-responsive soft robots have been extensively developed by incorporating multi-functional materials, such as carbon-based nanoparticles, nanowires, low-dimensional materials, and liquid crystals. In addition to the general functions of conventional soft robots, hybrid stimuli-responsive soft robots have displayed significantly advanced multi-mechanical, electrical, or/and optical properties accompanied with smart shape transformation in response to external stimuli, such as heat, light, and even biomaterials. This review surveys the current enhanced scientific methods to synthesize the integration of multi-functional materials within stimuli-responsive soft robots. Furthermore, this review focuses on the applications of hybrid stimuli-responsive soft robots in the forms of actuators and sensors that display multi-responsive and highly sensitive properties. Finally, it highlights the current challenges of stimuli-responsive soft robots and suggests perspectives on future directions for achieving intelligent hybrid stimuli-responsive soft robots applicable in real environments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Miniaturized Dual-Slider Linear Actuator Using Electrostatic Adhesion and Inertia Drive
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040114 - 12 Nov 2020
Viewed by 427
Abstract
Dual-slider positioning in a miniaturized system is crucial in many industrial applications. This paper presents a miniaturized dual-slider linear actuator by employing one piezoelectric element (PZT) and integrating the methods of electrostatic adhesion and inertia drive. Two inertia drive methods can be converted [...] Read more.
Dual-slider positioning in a miniaturized system is crucial in many industrial applications. This paper presents a miniaturized dual-slider linear actuator by employing one piezoelectric element (PZT) and integrating the methods of electrostatic adhesion and inertia drive. Two inertia drive methods can be converted by clamping and releasing one of the sliders on a base. Two thin-film electrodes are mounted on the base for clamping and releasing the slider by electrostatic adhesion. The actuator can thus drive dual sliders independently by converting the two inertia drive methods. A prototype is developed with a compact size of 30 mm (L) × 11 mm (W) × 11 mm (H) to evaluate the basic performance of the actuator. The maximum driving speeds of the two sliders are 31.7 mm/s and 16 mm/s, respectively, while the resolution of them is 60 nm and 13 nm, respectively. Additionally, the actuator can drive both the two sliders for long motion ranges of 14 mm. With a compact size and excellent physical performance, the proposed device has the potential for multi-slider positioning in miniaturized equipment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Precision Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Design Methodology for a Novel Bending Pneumatic Soft Actuator for Kinematically Mirroring the Shape of Objects
Actuators 2020, 9(4), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9040113 - 10 Nov 2020
Viewed by 581
Abstract
In the landscape of Industry 4.0, advanced robotics awaits a growing use of bioinspired adaptive and flexible robots. Collaborative robotics meets this demand. Due to human–robot coexistence and interaction, the safety, the first requirement to be satisfied, also depends on the end effectors. [...] Read more.
In the landscape of Industry 4.0, advanced robotics awaits a growing use of bioinspired adaptive and flexible robots. Collaborative robotics meets this demand. Due to human–robot coexistence and interaction, the safety, the first requirement to be satisfied, also depends on the end effectors. End effectors made of soft actuators satisfy this requirement. A novel pneumatic bending soft actuator with high compliance, low cost, high versatility and easy production is here proposed. Conceived to be used as a finger of a collaborative robot, it is made of a hyper-elastic inner tube wrapped in a gauze. The bending is controlled by cuts in the gauze: the length and the angular extension of them, the pressure value and the dimensions of the inner tube determine the bending amplitude and avoid axial elongation. A design methodology, oriented to kinematically mirror the shape of the object to be grasped, was defined. Firstly, it consists of the development of a non-linear parametric numerical model of a bioinspired finger; then, the construction of a prototype for the experimental validation of the numerical model was performed. Hence, a campaign of simulations led to the definition of a qualitatively predictive formula, the basis for the design methodology. The effectiveness of the latter was evaluated for a real case: an actuator for the grasping of a light bulb was designed and experimentally tested. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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