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Modular Hybrid Robots for Safe Human-Robot Interaction

Authors: J. Radojicic, D. Surdilovic, G. Schreck


The paper considers a novel modular and intrinsically safe redundant robotic system with biologically inspired actuators (pneumatic artificial muscles and rubber bellows actuators). Similarly to the biological systems, the stiffness of the internal parallel modules, representing 2 DOF joints in the serial robotic chains, is controlled by co-activation of opposing redundant actuator groups in the null-space of the module Jacobian, without influencing the actual robot position. The decoupled position/stiffness control allows the realization of variable joint stiffness according to different force-displacement relationships. The variable joint stiffness, as well as limited pneumatic muscle/bellows force ability, ensures internal system safety that is crucial for development of human-friendly robots intended for human-robot collaboration. The initial experiments with the system prototype demonstrate the capabilities of independently, simultaneously controlling both joint (Cartesian) motion and joint stiffness. The paper also presents the possible industrial applications of snake-like robots built using the new modules.

Keywords: Human-Robot Interaction, pneumatic muscle, bellows actuator, hyper redundant robot

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

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