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Research Papers

Design and Control of a Sleeve Muscle-Actuated Robotic Elbow

[+] Author and Article Information
Tad A. Driver

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Alabama,
290 Hardaway Hall,
Box No. 870276,
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

Xiangrong Shen

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Alabama,
290 Hardaway Hall,
Box No. 870276,
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
e-mail: xshen@eng.ua.edu

Contributed by the Dynamic Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF DYNAMIC SYSTEMS, MEASUREMENT, AND CONTROL. Manuscript received January 18, 2013; final manuscript received February 5, 2014; published online April 28, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Evangelos Papadopoulos.

J. Dyn. Sys., Meas., Control 136(4), 041023 (Apr 28, 2014) (10 pages) Paper No: DS-13-1031; doi: 10.1115/1.4026834 History: Received January 18, 2013; Revised February 05, 2014

This paper describes the design and control of a robotic elbow system, which is actuated with a novel sleeve muscle actuator. The sleeve muscle is a significant step forward from the traditional pneumatic muscle, and provides a substantially improved performance through a fundamental structural change. Specifically, the sleeve muscle incorporates a cylindrical insert to the center of the pneumatic muscle, which eliminates the central portion of the internal volume. As a result of this change, the sleeve muscle provides multiple advantages over the traditional pneumatic muscle, including the increased force capacity over the entire range of motion, reduced energy consumption, and expedited dynamic response. Furthermore, utilizing the load-bearing tube as the insert, the sleeve muscle enables an innovative “actuation-load bearing” structure, which generates a highly compact robotic system to mimic the structure and functionality of biological limbs. The robotic elbow design in this paper serves an example that shows the design and control process of a robotic joint in this integrated structure. This robotic elbow provides a range of motion of 110 deg, approximately 80% of that for a human elbow, and an average torque capacity that exceeds the peak torque of the human elbow. The servo control capability is provided with a model-based sliding-mode control approach, which is able to provide good control performance in the presence of disturbances and model uncertainties. This controller is implemented on the robotic elbow prototype, and the effectiveness was demonstrated with step response and sinusoidal tracking experiments.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Structure (a) and actuation mechanism (b) of pneumatic muscle actuators

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Fig. 2

A pneumatic muscle-actuated robotic joint

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Fig. 3

Analysis of the pneumatic muscle functioning mechanism: (a) dividing the internal volume into two parts and (b) the corresponding contributions to the contraction force (F1: pushing force due to the internal pressure; F2: pulling force by the membrane)

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Fig. 4

Schematic of the sleeve muscle actuator

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Fig. 5

Schematic of the sleeve muscle-actuated robotic elbow joint. Note that the torsional spring providing the extensive torque is integrated into the rotary joint.

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Fig. 6

The design of the sleeve muscle prototype. (a) The end connectors of the commercial pneumatic muscle are drilled through to accommodate the insert and (b) the insert features an internal air pathway to enable the access to the internal volume.

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Fig. 7

The force capacity of the sleeve muscle as a function of the percentage of contraction

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Fig. 8

The joint torque capacity of the sleeve muscle-actuated robotic elbow

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Fig. 9

Solid model of the robotic elbow design: (a) the robotic elbow system and (b) the design details of the rotary joint

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Fig. 10

Photos of the robotic elbow prototype

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Fig. 11

Schematic of the Simulink model

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Fig. 12

Control performance in tracking a step signal. In this figure, the solid line displays the commanded motion (i.e., desired trajectory of the joint position), and the dashed line displays the measured motion (i.e., joint position measured with the rotary potentiometer).

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Fig. 13

Control performance in tracking 0.5 Hz sinusoidal signal. In this figure, the red line displays the commanded motion (i.e., desired trajectory of the joint position), and the blue line displays the measured motion (i.e., joint position measured with the rotary potentiometer).

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Fig. 14

Control performance in tracking 1.0 Hz sinusoidal signal. In this figure, the red line displays the commanded motion (i.e., desired trajectory of the joint position), and the blue line displays the measured motion (i.e., joint position measured with the rotary potentiometer).

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