Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) researchers are developing the COmpliant huMANoid (COMAN) robot, which features joints with variable stiffness.
COMAN offers 25 degrees of freedom and a combination of stiff and compliant joints, which rely on a series of elastic actuators. The actuators are applied to the flexion and extension of the arms and legs. The researchers also have developed custom torque sensors for each of the elastic joints, including a six-axis force-and-torque sensor for the ankle joints.
In walking experiments, the robot's hardware absorbs the ground reaction forces of each footstep "without additional control enforcement, which is difficult to be realized by the stiff actuated humanoids if no particular foot mechanism or active control is applied," the IIT researchers say.
They also developed a method for determining the optimal joint elasticity, providing a framework for other researchers studying compliant robots.
The researchers note their method is based on resonance analysis and energy storage maximization criteria.
From IEEE Spectrum
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