|Commenced in January 2007||Frequency: Monthly||Edition: International||Paper Count: 5|
The utilization of pneumatic muscles in the actuation of industrial systems is still in its early stages, hence studies on the constructive solutions which include an assessment of their functional performance with a focus on one of the most important characteristics-energy efficiency are required. A quality indicator that adequately reflects the energy efficiency of an actuator is the energy-to-mass ratio. This ratio is computed in the paper for various types and sizes of pneumatic muscles manufactured by Festo, and is subsequently compared to the similar ratios determined for two categories of pneumatic cylinders.
Deployment of pneumatic muscles in various industrial applications is still in its early days, considering the relative newness of these components. The field of robotics holds particular future potential for pneumatic muscles, especially in view of their specific behaviour known as compliance. The paper presents and discusses an innovative constructive solution for a gripper system mountable on an industrial robot, based on actuation by a linear pneumatic muscle and transmission of motion by gear and rack mechanism. The structural, operational and constructive models of the new gripper are presented, along with some of the experimental results obtained subsequently to the testing of a prototype. Further presented are two control variants of the gripper system, one by means of a 3/2-way fast-switching solenoid valve, the other by means of a proportional pressure regulator. Advantages and disadvantages are discussed for both variants.
The Ambidextrous Robot Hand is a robotic device with the purpose to mimic either the gestures of a right or a left hand. The symmetrical behavior of its fingers allows them to bend in one way or another keeping a compliant and anthropomorphic shape. However, in addition to gestures they can reproduce on both sides, an asymmetrical mechanical design with a three tendons routing has been engineered to reduce the number of actuators. As a consequence, control algorithms must be adapted to drive efficiently the ambidextrous fingers from one position to another and to include grasping features. These movements are controlled by pneumatic muscles, which are nonlinear actuators. As their elasticity constantly varies when they are under actuation, the length of pneumatic muscles and the force they provide may differ for a same value of pressurized air. The control algorithms introduced in this paper take both the fingers asymmetrical design and the pneumatic muscles nonlinearity into account to permit an accurate control of the Ambidextrous Robot Hand. The finger motion is achieved by combining a classic PID controller with a phase plane switching control that turns the gain constants into dynamic values. The grasping ability is made possible because of a sliding mode control that makes the fingers adapt to the shape of an object before strengthening their positions.
The paper considers a novel modular and intrinsically safe redundant robotic system with biologically inspired actuators (pneumatic artificial muscles and rubber bellows actuators). Similarly to the biological systems, the stiffness of the internal parallel modules, representing 2 DOF joints in the serial robotic chains, is controlled by co-activation of opposing redundant actuator groups in the null-space of the module Jacobian, without influencing the actual robot position. The decoupled position/stiffness control allows the realization of variable joint stiffness according to different force-displacement relationships. The variable joint stiffness, as well as limited pneumatic muscle/bellows force ability, ensures internal system safety that is crucial for development of human-friendly robots intended for human-robot collaboration. The initial experiments with the system prototype demonstrate the capabilities of independently, simultaneously controlling both joint (Cartesian) motion and joint stiffness. The paper also presents the possible industrial applications of snake-like robots built using the new modules.