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Variable Stiffness Links VSL - Toward Inherently Safe Robotic Manipulators

Stilli, A; Grattarola, L; Feldmann, H; Wurdemann, HA; Althoefer, K; (2017) Variable Stiffness Links VSL - Toward Inherently Safe Robotic Manipulators. In: Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2017 IEEE International Conference on. IEEE Green open access

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Abstract

Nowadays, the field of industrial robotics focuses particularly on collaborative robots that are able to work closely together with a human worker in an inherently safe way. To detect and prevent harmful collisions, a number of solutions both from the actuation and sensing sides have been suggested. However, due to the rigid body structures of the majority of systems, the risk of harmful collisions with human operators in a collaborative environment remains. In this paper, we propose a novel concept for a collaborative robot made of Variable Stiffness Links (VSLs). The idea is to use a combination of silicone based structures and fabric materials to create stiffness-controllable links that are pneumatically actuated. According to the application, it is possible to change the stiffness of the links by varying the value of pressure inside their structure. Moreover, the pressure readings from the pressure sensors inside the regulators can be utilised to detect collisions between the manipulator body and a human worker, for instance. A set of experiments are performed with the aim to assess the performance of the VSL when embedded in a robotic manipulator. The effects of different loads and pressures on the workspace of the manipulator are evaluated together with the efficiency of the collision detection control system and hardware.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Variable Stiffness Links VSL - Toward Inherently Safe Robotic Manipulators
Event: ICRA 2017 - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 29 May-3 June 2017, Singapore, Singapore
Location: Singapore
Dates: 28 May 2017 - 02 June 2017
ISBN-13: 978-1-5090-4634-8
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1109/ICRA.2017.7989578
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ICRA.2017.7989578
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Collision avoidance; Manipulators; Robot sensing systems; Service robots; Shape
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Mechanical Engineering
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Med Phys and Biomedical Eng
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1541265
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