Latest Papers

ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics

  • Mechanical Characterization of Supernumerary Robotic Tails for Human Balance Augmentation
    on August 31, 2023 at 12:00 am

    AbstractHumans are intrinsically unstable in quiet stance from a rigid body system viewpoint; however, they maintain balance, thanks to neuro-muscular sensory control properties. With increasing levels of balance related incidents in industrial and ageing populations globally each year, the development of assistive mechanisms to augment human balance is paramount. This work investigates the mechanical characteristics of kinematically dissimilar one and two degrees-of-freedom (DoF) supernumerary robotic tails for balance augmentation. Through dynamic simulations and manipulability assessments, the importance of variable coupling inertia in creating a sufficient reaction torque is highlighted. It is shown that two-DoF tails with solely revolute joints are best suited to address the balance augmentation issue. Within the two-DoF options, the characteristics of open versus closed loop tails are investigated, with the ultimate design selection requiring trade-offs between environmental workspace, biomechanical factors, and manufacturing ease to be made.

Flexible-Joint Humanoid Balancing Augmentation via Full-State Feedback Variable Impedance Control


This paper attempts to address the quandary of flexible-joint humanoid balancing performance augmentation, via the introduction of the Full-State Feedback Variable Impedance Control (FSFVIC), and Model-Free Compliant Floating-base VIC (MCFVIC) schemes. In comparison to rigid-joint humanoid robots, efficient balancing control of compliant bipeds, powered by Series Elastic Actuators (or harmonic drives), requires the design of more sophisticated controllers encapsulating both the motor and underactuated link dynamics. It has been demonstrated that Variable Impedance Control (VIC) can improve robotic interaction performance, albeit by introducing energy-injecting elements that may jeopardize closed-loop stability. To this end, the novel FSFVIC and MCFVIC schemes are proposed, which amalgamate both collocated and non-collocated feedback gains, with power-shaping signals that are capable of preserving the system’s stability/passivity during VIC. The FSFVIC and MCFVIC stably modulate the system’s collocated state gains to augment balancing performance, in addition to the non-collocated state gains that dictate the position control accuracy. Utilization of arbitrarily low-impedance gains is permitted by both the FSFVIC and MCFVIC schemes propounded herein. An array of experiments involving the COmpliant huMANoid reveals that significant balancing performance amelioration is achievable through online modulation of the full-state feedback gains (VIC), as compared to utilization of invariant impedance control.
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