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.

A Novel Variable Stiffness Compliant Robotic Link Based on Discrete Variable Stiffness Units for Safe Human–Robot Interaction


Variable stiffness manipulators balance the trade-off between manipulation performance needing high stiffness and safe human–robot interaction desiring low stiffness. Variable stiffness links enable this flexible manipulation function during human–robot interaction. In this paper, we propose a novel variable stiffness link based on discrete variable stiffness units (DSUs). A DSU is a parallel guided beam that can adjust stiffness discretely by changing the cross-sectional area properties of the hollow beam segments. The variable stiffness link (Tri-DSU) consists of three tandem DSUs to achieve eight stiffness modes and a stiffness ratio of 31. To optimize the design, stiffness analysis of the DSU and Tri-DSU under various configurations and forces was performed by a derived linear analytical model which applies to small/intermediate deflections. The model is derived using the approach of serially connected beams and superposition combinations. 3D-Printed prototypes were built to verify the feature and performance of the Tri-DSU in comparison with the finite element analysis and analytical model results. It’s demonstrated that our model can accurately predict the stiffnesses of the DSU and Tri-DSU within a certain range of parameters. Impact tests were also conducted to validate the performance of the Tri-DSU. The developed method and analytical model are extendable to multiple DSUs with parameter configurations to achieve modularization and customization, and also provide a tool for the design of reconfigurable collaborative robot (cobot) manipulators.

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