Variable impedance actuators: a review

B. Vanderborght, A. Albu-Schäffer, A. Bicchi, E. Burdet, D.G. Caldwell, Raffaella Carloni, M. Catalano, O. Eiberger, W. Friedl, G. Ganesh, M. Garabini, M. Grebenstein, G. Grioli, S. Haddadin, H. Hoppner, A. Jafari, M. Laffranchi, D. Lefeber, F. Petit, S. StramigioliN. Tsagarakis, M. van Damme, R. ten Ham, L.C. Visser, S. Wolf

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    Variable Impedance Actuators (VIA) have received increasing attention in recent years as many novel applications involving interactions with an un- known and dynamic environment including humans require actuators with dynamics that are not well-achieved by classical stiff actuators. This paper presents an overview of the different VIAs developed and proposes a clas- sification based on the principles through which the variable stiffness and damping are achieved. The main classes are active impedance by control, inherent compliance and damping actuators, inertial actuators, and combi- nations of them, which are then further divided into subclasses. This classi- fication allows for designers of new devices to orientate and take inspiration and users of VIA’s to be guided in the design and implementation process for their targeted application.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1601-1614
    Number of pages39
    JournalRobotics and autonomous systems
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


    • EWI-23578
    • Variable impedance actuators
    • IR-86985
    • METIS-297776
    • Soft robotics


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