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  1. Lakhtakia, Akhlesh ; Martín-Palma, Raúl J. ; Knez, Mato (Ed.)
    In this study, the implementation and performance of bipennate topology fluidic artificial muscle (FAM) bundles operating under varying boundary conditions is investigated and quantified experimentally. Soft actuators are of great interest to design engineers due to their inherent flexibility and potential to improve safety in human robot interactions. McKibben fluidic artificial muscles are soft actuators which exhibit high force to weight ratios and dynamically replicate natural muscle movement. These features, in addition to their low fabrication cost, set McKibben FAMs apart as attractive components for an actuation system. Previous studies have shown that there are significant advantages in force and contraction outputs when using bipennate topology FAM bundles as compared to the conventional parallel topology1 . In this study, we will experimentally explore the effects of two possible boundary conditions imposed on FAMs within a bipennate topology. One boundary condition is to pin the muscle fiber ends with fixed pin spacings while the other is biologically inspired and constrains the muscle fibers to remain in contact. This paper will outline design considerations for building a test platform for bipennate fluidic artificial muscle bundles with varying boundary conditions and present experimental results quantifying muscle displacement and force output. These metrics aremore »used to analyze the tradespace between the two boundary conditions and the effect of varying pennation angles.« less
  2. Lakhtakia, Akhlesh ; Martín-Palma, Raúl J. ; Knez, Mato (Ed.)
    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 canmore »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