A Scalable Variable Stiffness Revolute Joint Based on Layer Jamming for Robotic Exoskeletons

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 12228)


Robotic exoskeletons have been a focal point of research due to an ever-increasing ageing population, longer life expectancy, and a desire to further improve the existing capabilities of humans. However, their effectiveness is often limited, with strong rigid structures poorly interfacing with humans and soft flexible mechanisms providing limited forces. In this paper, a scalable variable stiffness revolute joint is proposed to overcome this problem. By using layer jamming, the joint has the ability to stiffen or soften for different use cases. A theoretical and experimental study of maximum stiffness with size was conducted to determine the suitability and scalablity of this technology. Three sizes (50 mm, 37.5 mm, 25 mm diameter) of the joint were developed and evaluated. Results indicate that this technology is most suitable for use in human fingers, as the prototypes demonstrate a sufficient torque (0.054 Nm) to support finger movement.


Variable stiffness Layer jamming Exoskeleton 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.REDS Lab, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College LondonLondonUK

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