Variable Stiffness Link (VSL): Toward inherently safe robotic manipulators
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Nowadays, the field of industrial robotics focuses particularly on collaborative robots that are able to work closely together with a human worker in an inherently safe way. To detect and prevent harmful collisions, a number of solutions both from the actuation and sensing sides have been suggested. However, due to the rigid body structures of the majority of systems, the risk of harmful collisions with human operators in a collaborative environment remains. In this paper, we propose a novel concept for a collaborative robot made of Variable Stiffness Links (VSLs). The idea is to use a combination of silicone based structures and fabric materials to create stiffness-controllable links that are pneumatically actuated. According to the application, it is possible to change the stiffness of the links by varying the value of pressure inside their structure. Moreover, the pressure readings from the pressure sensors inside the regulators can be utilised to detect collisions between the manipulator body and a human worker, for instance. A set of experiments are performed with the aim to assess the performance of the VSL when embedded in a robotic manipulator. The effects of different loads and pressures on the workspace of the manipulator are evaluated together with the efficiency of the collision detection control system and hardware.
AuthorsStilli, A; Grattarola, L; Feldmann, H; Wurdemann, HA; Althoefer, K
- College Publications