Virtual Impedance Control for Safe Human-Robot Interaction

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Collision avoidance is essential for safe robot manipulation. Especially with humans around, robots should work only when safety can be robustly guaranteed. In this paper, we propose using virtual impedance control for reactive, smooth, and consistent collision avoidance that interferes minimally with the original task. The virtual impedance control operates in the risk space, a vector space describing the possibilities of all forthcoming collisions, and is designed to elude all risks in a consistent response in order to create assuring human-robot interaction experiences. The proposed scheme intrinsically handles kinematic singularity and the activation of avoidance using a boundary layer defined on the spectrum of Jacobian. In cooperation with the original controller, the proposed avoidance scheme provides a proof of convergence if the original controller is stable with and without projection. In simulations and experiments, we verified the characteristics of the proposed control scheme and integrated the system with Microsoft Kinect to monitor the workspace for real-time collision detection and avoidance. The results show that the proposed approach is suitable for robot operation with humans nearby.

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Correspondence to Han-Pang Huang.

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Lo, S., Cheng, C. & Huang, H. Virtual Impedance Control for Safe Human-Robot Interaction. J Intell Robot Syst 82, 3–19 (2016).

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  • Safe human-robot interaction
  • Collision avoidance
  • Risk space
  • Virtual impedance control