Variable Stiffness Actuators for Fast and Safe Motion Control

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In this paper we propose Variable Stiffness actuation [1] as a viable mechanical/ control co-design approach for guaranteeing control performance for robot arms that are inherently safe to humans in their environment. A new actuator under development in our Lab is then proposed, which incorporate the possibility to vary transmission stiffness during motion execution, thus allowing substantial motion speed-up while maintaining low injury risk levels.