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Title: Control of a dynamic load emulator for hardware-in-the-loop testing of fluidic artificial muscle bundles
Fluidic artificial muscles (FAMs) have emerged as a viable and popular robotic actuation technique due to their low cost, compliant nature, and high force-to-weight-ratio. In recent years, the concept of variable recruitment has emerged as a way to improve the efficiency of conventional hydraulic robotic systems. In variable recruitment, groups of FAMs are bundled together and divided into individual motor units. Each motor unit can be activated independently, which is similar to the sequential activation pattern observed in mammalian muscle. Previous researchers have performed quasistatic characterizations of variable recruitment bundles and some simple dynamic analyses and experiments with a simple 1- DOF robot arm. We have developed a linear hydraulic characterization testing platform that will allow for the testing of different types of variable recruitment bundle configurations under different loading conditions. The platform consists of a hydraulic drive cylinder that acts as a cyber-physical hardware-in-the-loop dynamic loading emulator and interfaces with the variable recruitment bundle. The desired inertial, damping and stiffness properties of the emulator can be prescribed and achieved through an admittance controller. In this paper, we test the ability of this admittance controller to emulate different inertial, stiffness, and damping properties in simulation and demonstrate that it can more » be used in hardware through a proof-of-concept experiment. The primary goal of this work is to develop a unique testing setup that will allow for the testing of different FAM configurations, controllers, or subsystems and their responses to different dynamic loads before they are implemented on more complex robotic systems. « less
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Lakhtakia, Akhlesh; Martín-Palma, Raúl J.; Knez, Mato
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proc. SPIE 11586, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication XI
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract Fluidic artificial muscles (FAMs) are a popular actuation choice due to their compliant nature and high force-to-weight ratio. Variable recruitment is a bio-inspired actuation strategy in which multiple FAMs are combined into motor units that can be pressurized sequentially according to load demand. In a traditional ‘fixed-end’ variable recruitment FAM bundle, inactive units and activated units that are past free strain will compress and buckle outward, resulting in resistive forces that reduce overall bundle force output, increase spatial envelope, and reduce operational life. This paper investigates the use of inextensible tendons as a mitigation strategy for preventing resistive forces and outward buckling of inactive and submaximally activated motor units in a variable recruitment FAM bundle. A traditional analytical fixed-end variable recruitment FAM bundle model is modified to account for tendons, and the force–strain spaces of the two configurations are compared while keeping the overall bundle length constant. Actuation efficiency for the two configurations is compared for two different cases: one case in which the radii of all FAMs within the bundle are equivalent, and one case in which the bundles are sized to consume the same amount of working fluid volume at maximum contraction. Efficiency benefits can be foundmore »for either configuration for different locations within their shared force–strain space, so depending on the loading requirements, one configuration may be more efficient than the other. Additionally, a study is performed to quantify the increase in spatial envelope caused by the outward buckling of inactive or low-pressure motor units. It was found that at full activation of recruitment states 1, 2, and 3, the tendoned configuration has a significantly higher volumetric energy density than the fixed-end configuration, indicating that the tendoned configuration has more actuation potential for a given spatial envelope. Overall, the results show that using a resistive force mitigation strategy such as tendons can completely eliminate resistive forces, increase volumetric energy density, and increase system efficiency for certain loading cases. Thus, there is a compelling case to be made for the use of tendoned FAMs in variable recruitment bundles.« less
  2. Abstract Biological musculature employs variable recruitment of muscle fibers from smaller to larger units as the load increases. This orderly recruitment strategy has certain physiological advantages like minimizing fatigue and providing finer motor control. Recently fluidic artificial muscles (FAM) are gaining popularity as actuators due to their increased efficiency by employing bio-inspired recruitment strategies such as active variable recruitment (AVR). AVR systems use a multi-valve system (MVS) configuration to selectively recruit individual FAMs depending on the load. However, when using an MVS configuration, an increase in the number of motor units in a bundle corresponds to an increase in the number of valves in the system. This introduces greater complexity and weight. The objective of this paper is to propose, analyze, and demonstrate an orderly recruitment valve (ORV) concept that enables orderly recruitment of multiple FAMs in the system using a single valve. A mathematical model of an ORV-controlled FAM bundle is presented and validated by experiments performed on a proof-of-concept ORV experiment. The modeling is extended to explore a case study of a 1-DOF robot arm system consisting of an electrohydraulic pressurization system, ORV, and a FAM-actuated rotating arm plant and its dynamics are simulated to further demonstrate themore »capabilities of an ORV-controlled closed-loop system. An orderly recruitment strategy was implemented through a model-based feed forward controller. To benchmark the performance of the ORV, a conventional MVS with equivalent dynamics and controller was also implemented. Trajectory tracking simulations on both the systems revealed lower tracking error for the ORV controlled system compared to the MVS controlled system due to the unique cross-flow effects present in the ORV. However, the MVS, due to its independent and multiple valve setup, proved to be more adaptable for performance. For example, modifications to the recruitment thresholds of the MVS demonstrated improvement in tracking error, albeit with a sacrifice in efficiency. In the ORV, tracking performance remained insensitive to any variation in recruitment threshold. The results show that compared to the MVS, the ORV offers a simpler and more compact valving architecture at the expense of moderate losses in control flexibility and performance.« less
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