Design and Control of a Bio-inspired Human-Friendly Robot

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Summary

The increasing demand for physical interaction between humans and robots has led to the development of robots that guarantee safe behavior when human contact occurs. However, attaining established levels of performance while ensuring safety poses formidable challenges in mechanical design, actuation, sensing and control. To achieve safety without compromising performance, the human-friendly robotic arm has been developed using the concept of hybrid actuation. The new design employs inherently-safe pneumatic artificial muscles augmented with small electrical actuators, human-bone-inspired robotic links, and newly designed distributed compact pressure regulators with proportional valves. The experimental results show that significant performance improvement that can be achieved with hybrid actuation over a system with pneumatic artificial muscles alone. The paper evaluates the safety of the new robot arm and demonstrates that the safety characteristics surpass those of previous human-friendly robots.