- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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A Comparative Study on the Effect of Mechanical Compliance for a Safe Physical Human–Robot InteractionAbstract In this paper, we study the effects of mechanical compliance on safety in physical human–robot interaction (pHRI). More specifically, we compare the effect of joint compliance and link compliance on the impact force assuming a contact occurred between a robot and a human head. We first establish pHRI system models that are composed of robot dynamics, an impact contact model, and head dynamics. These models are validated by Simscape simulation. By comparing impact results with a robotic arm made of a compliant link (CL) and compliant joint (CJ), we conclude that the CL design produces a smaller maximum impact force given the same lateral stiffness as well as other physical and geometric parameters. Furthermore, we compare the variable stiffness joint (VSJ) with the variable stiffness link (VSL) for various actuation parameters and design parameters. While decreasing stiffness of CJs cannot effectively reduce the maximum impact force, CL design is more effective in reducing impact force by varying the link stiffness. We conclude that the CL design potentially outperforms the CJ design in addressing safety in pHRI and can be used as a promising alternative solution to address the safety constraints in pHRI.
Abstract In this paper, we present a novel compliant robotic gripper with three variable stiffness fingers. While the shape morphing of the fingers is cable-driven, the stiffness variation is enabled by layer jamming. The inherent flexibility makes compliant gripper suitable for tasks such as grasping soft and irregular objects. However, their relatively low load capacity due to intrinsic compliance limits their applications. Variable stiffness robotic grippers have the potential to address this challenge as their stiffness can be tuned on demand of tasks. In our design, the compliant backbone of finger is made of 3D-printed PLA materials sandwiched between thin film materials. The workflow of the robotic gripper follows two basic steps. First, the compliant skeleton is driven by a servo motor via a tension cable and bend to a desired shape. Second, upon application of a negative pressure, the finger is stiffened up because friction between contact surfaces of layers that prevents their relative movement increases. As a result, their load capacity will be increased proportionally. Tests for stiffness of individual finger and load capacity of the robotic gripper are conducted to validate capability of the design. The results showed a 180-fold increase in stiffness of individual finger andmore »
This paper details the mechanical design and control of a human safety robotic arm with variable stiffness, starting from conceptual design to prototype. The mechanism designed is based on parallel guided beam with a roller slider actuated by a power screw and a DC motor with an encoder for position feedback. Unlike conventional robotic systems that control the stiffness in joints, this design introduces compliance to the robotic arm link itself. By controlling the slider position, the effective length of the link can be adjusted to provide the necessary stiffness change. A PID position controller is employed and the position accuracy is experimentally evaluated. The stiffness variation of the prototype is validated by experiments and FEA simulation. The overall stiffness change achieved is 20-fold.
Physical interaction between humans and robots can help robots learn to perform complex tasks. The robot arm gains information by observing how the human kinesthetically guides it throughout the task. While prior works focus on how the robot learns, it is equally important that this learning is transparent to the human teacher. Visual displays that show the robot’s uncertainty can potentially communicate this information; however, we hypothesize that visual feedback mechanisms miss out on the physical connection between the human and robot. In this work we present a soft haptic display that wraps around and conforms to the surface of a robot arm, adding a haptic signal at an existing point of contact without significantly affecting the interaction. We demonstrate how soft actuation creates a salient haptic signal while still allowing flexibility in device mounting. Using a psychophysics experiment, we show that users can accurately distinguish inflation levels of the wrapped display with an average Weber fraction of 11.4%. When we place the wrapped display around the arm of a robotic manipulator, users are able to interpret and leverage the haptic signal in sample robot learning tasks, improving identification of areas where the robot needs more training and enabling themore »
Continuous and controlled shape morphing is essential for soft machines to conform, grasp, and move while interacting safely with their surroundings. Shape morphing can be achieved with two-dimensional (2D) sheets that reconfigure into target 3D geometries, for example, using stimuli-responsive materials. However, most existing solutions lack the ability to reprogram their shape, face limitations on attainable geometries, or have insufficient mechanical stiffness to manipulate objects. Here, we develop a soft, robotic surface that allows for large, reprogrammable, and pliable shape morphing into smooth 3D geometries. The robotic surface consists of a layered design composed of two active networks serving as artificial muscles, one passive network serving as a skeleton, and cover scales serving as an artificial skin. The active network consists of a grid of strips made of heat-responsive liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) containing stretchable heating coils. The magnitude and speed of contraction of the LCEs can be controlled by varying the input electric currents. The 1D contraction of the LCE strips activates in-plane and out-of-plane deformations; these deformations are both necessary to transform a flat surface into arbitrary 3D geometries. We characterize the fundamental deformation response of the layers and derive a control scheme for actuation. We demonstrate thatmore »