Dynamics and Control of Instrumented Harmonic Drives

[+] Author and Article Information
H. Kazerooni

Mechanical Engineering Department, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720

J. Dyn. Sys., Meas., Control 117(1), 15-19 (Mar 01, 1995) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2798517 History: Received October 04, 1991; Revised January 19, 1994; Online December 03, 2007


Since torque in harmonic drives is transmitted by a pure couple, harmonic drives do not generate radial forces and therefore can be instrumented with torque sensors without interference from radial forces. The installation of torque sensors on the stationary component of harmonic drives (the Flexipline cup in this research work) produce backdrivability needed for robotic and telerobotic compliant maneuvers [3, 4, 6]. Backdrivability of a harmonic drive, when used as torque increaser, means that the output shaft can be rotated via finite amount of torque. A high ratio harmonic drive is non-backdrivable because its output shaft cannot be turned by applying a torque on it. This article first develops the dynamic behavior of a harmonic drive, in particular the non-backdrivability, in terms of a sensitivity transfer function. The instrumentation of the harmonic drive with torque sensor is then described. This leads to a description of the control architecture which allows modulation of the sensitivity transfer function within the limits established by the closed-loop stability. A set of experiments on an active hand controller, powered by a DC motor coupled to an instrumented harmonic drive, is given to exhibit this method’s limitations.

Copyright © 1995 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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