A force-controlled planar haptic device for movement control analysis of the human arm

Erwin de Vlugt*, Alfred C. Schouten, Frans C.T. van der Helm, Piet C. Teerhuis, Guido G. Brouwn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes the design and application of a haptic device to study the mechanical properties of the human arm during interaction with compliant environments. Estimates of the human endpoint admittance can be obtained by recording position deviations as a result of force perturbations. Previous studies attempted to estimate the impedance by recording force as a result of position perturbations, but these experiments do not require a feasible task of human beings. A general problem of force-controlled haptic devices is the occurrence of contact instability, especially where a small virtual mass is required. This negative effect is reduced by the use of a lightweight but stiff manipulator and a robust servo-based admittance controller. The virtual admittance is accurate to at least 13 Hz, attaining a minimum virtual mass of 1.7 kg (isotropic, without damping and stiffness). The properties of known test loads were estimated with an accuracy higher than 98%, up to 20 Hz. The application of the manipulator is evaluated by an experiment with a subject performing a position maintenance task. With this device it is possible to study the adaptability of the neuromuscular system to a variety of environments, enabling a new and functional approach to human motion research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-168
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of neuroscience methods
Issue number2
Early online date22 Aug 2003
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Arm admittance
  • Contact instability
  • Haptic device
  • Identification
  • Reflexive feedback
  • Virtual environment

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