A Variable Stiffness Actuator Module with Favorable Mass Distribution for a Bio-inspired Biped Robot

David Rodriguez-Cianca, Maarten Weckx, Rene Jimenez-Fabian, Diego Torricelli, Jose Gonzalez-Vargas, M. Carmen Sanchez-Villamañan, Massimo Sartori, Karsten Berns, Bram Vanderborght, J. Luis Pons, Dirk Lefeber

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Abstract

Achieving human-like locomotion with humanoid platforms often requires the use of variable stiffness actuators (VSAs) in multi-degree-of-freedom robotic joints. VSAs possess 2 motors for the control of both stiffness and equilibrium position. Hence, they add mass and mechanical complexity to the design of humanoids. Mass distribution of the legs is an important design parameter, because it can have detrimental effects on the cost of transport. This work presents a novel VSA module, designed to be implemented in a bio-inspired humanoid robot, Binocchio, that houses all components on the same side of the actuated joint. This feature allowed to place the actuator’s mass to more proximal locations with respect to the actuated joint instead of concentrating it at the joint level, creating a more favorable mass distribution in the humanoid. Besides, it also facilitated it’s usage in joints with centralized multi-degree of freedom (DoF) joints instead of cascading single DoF modules. The design of the VSA module is presented, including it’s integration in the multi-DoFs joints of Binocchio. Experiments validated the static characteristics of the VSA module to accurately estimate the output torque and stiffness. The dynamic responses of the driving and stiffening mechanisms are shown. Finally, experiments show the ability of the actuation system to replicate the envisioned human-like kinematic, torque and stiffness profiles for Binocchio.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalFrontiers in neurorobotics
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2019

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Actuators
Stiffness
Robots
Torque
Degrees of freedom (mechanics)
Dynamic response
Kinematics
Robotics
Experiments
Costs

Keywords

  • Bio-inspired biped robot
  • Human-like locomotion
  • Mass distribution
  • Muti-DoFs joints
  • Variable stiffness actuator

Cite this

Rodriguez-Cianca, D., Weckx, M., Jimenez-Fabian, R., Torricelli, D., Gonzalez-Vargas, J., Sanchez-Villamañan, M. C., ... Lefeber, D. (2019). A Variable Stiffness Actuator Module with Favorable Mass Distribution for a Bio-inspired Biped Robot. Frontiers in neurorobotics, 13, [20]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbot.2019.00020
Rodriguez-Cianca, David ; Weckx, Maarten ; Jimenez-Fabian, Rene ; Torricelli, Diego ; Gonzalez-Vargas, Jose ; Sanchez-Villamañan, M. Carmen ; Sartori, Massimo ; Berns, Karsten ; Vanderborght, Bram ; Luis Pons, J. ; Lefeber, Dirk. / A Variable Stiffness Actuator Module with Favorable Mass Distribution for a Bio-inspired Biped Robot. In: Frontiers in neurorobotics. 2019 ; Vol. 13.
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abstract = "Achieving human-like locomotion with humanoid platforms often requires the use of variable stiffness actuators (VSAs) in multi-degree-of-freedom robotic joints. VSAs possess 2 motors for the control of both stiffness and equilibrium position. Hence, they add mass and mechanical complexity to the design of humanoids. Mass distribution of the legs is an important design parameter, because it can have detrimental effects on the cost of transport. This work presents a novel VSA module, designed to be implemented in a bio-inspired humanoid robot, Binocchio, that houses all components on the same side of the actuated joint. This feature allowed to place the actuator’s mass to more proximal locations with respect to the actuated joint instead of concentrating it at the joint level, creating a more favorable mass distribution in the humanoid. Besides, it also facilitated it’s usage in joints with centralized multi-degree of freedom (DoF) joints instead of cascading single DoF modules. The design of the VSA module is presented, including it’s integration in the multi-DoFs joints of Binocchio. Experiments validated the static characteristics of the VSA module to accurately estimate the output torque and stiffness. The dynamic responses of the driving and stiffening mechanisms are shown. Finally, experiments show the ability of the actuation system to replicate the envisioned human-like kinematic, torque and stiffness profiles for Binocchio.",
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Rodriguez-Cianca, D, Weckx, M, Jimenez-Fabian, R, Torricelli, D, Gonzalez-Vargas, J, Sanchez-Villamañan, MC, Sartori, M, Berns, K, Vanderborght, B, Luis Pons, J & Lefeber, D 2019, 'A Variable Stiffness Actuator Module with Favorable Mass Distribution for a Bio-inspired Biped Robot' Frontiers in neurorobotics, vol. 13, 20. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbot.2019.00020

A Variable Stiffness Actuator Module with Favorable Mass Distribution for a Bio-inspired Biped Robot. / Rodriguez-Cianca, David; Weckx, Maarten; Jimenez-Fabian, Rene; Torricelli, Diego; Gonzalez-Vargas, Jose; Sanchez-Villamañan, M. Carmen; Sartori, Massimo; Berns, Karsten; Vanderborght, Bram; Luis Pons, J.; Lefeber, Dirk.

In: Frontiers in neurorobotics, Vol. 13, 20, 17.05.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AU - Rodriguez-Cianca, David

AU - Weckx, Maarten

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AU - Torricelli, Diego

AU - Gonzalez-Vargas, Jose

AU - Sanchez-Villamañan, M. Carmen

AU - Sartori, Massimo

AU - Berns, Karsten

AU - Vanderborght, Bram

AU - Luis Pons, J.

AU - Lefeber, Dirk

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KW - Human-like locomotion

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KW - Variable stiffness actuator

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Rodriguez-Cianca D, Weckx M, Jimenez-Fabian R, Torricelli D, Gonzalez-Vargas J, Sanchez-Villamañan MC et al. A Variable Stiffness Actuator Module with Favorable Mass Distribution for a Bio-inspired Biped Robot. Frontiers in neurorobotics. 2019 May 17;13. 20. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbot.2019.00020