Tensegrity-based robot joint offers mechanical compliance under external impact and in man-robot interaction. So its practical bionic design has become a research hotspot. A variety of tensegrity-based flexible joints have been proposed and verified, but the research is not in-depth enough on control and motion modeling, transmission characteristics, and load performance analysis for robot joints with coupled driving cables and tensegrity structure. Based on the current situation, an elbow-inspired rotary joint is proposed following human anatomy. With the help of tensegrity node balance, the inherent relationships between the joint’s rotation and translation and between the driving cables” tension and the joint’s rotation are derived. The load performance of the joint is also explored, and the end load is calculated from the deviation between cables’ tension of a no-load condition. A prototype and an antagonistic cable driver with tension sensors are designed and manufactured to verify the proposed model, and the experimental results are well in agreement with the theoretical prediction. In the future, the model and the method proposed will be applied to bionic joints with similar structures.
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics Open Issues