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In this paper, a novel continuous fiber reinforced piezoelectric composite (CFRPC) actuator is proposed to improve the stability and reliability of piezoelectric actuators. A piezoelectric driving structure composed of a cantilever beam and the CFRPC actuator is utilized to research the actuation performance of the CFRPC actuator. The expression of the equivalent moment for the CFRPC actuator is obtained using the equivalent load method and electro-mechanical coupling theory. Based on Euler-Bernoulli beam theory, the analytical expression of the deflection for the cantilever beam is derived. The accuracy of the obtained analytical expressions is demonstrated by finite element simulation as well as published experimental results. The actuation performance of the CFRPC actuator is investigated through the analytical expressions of the equivalent moment and deflection. The results show that the key parameters such as driving voltage, fiber volume fraction, cantilever beam height, actuator height, actuator length and actuator position have great influence on the actuation performance of the CFRPC actuator. The CFRPC actuator has good mechanical and electrical properties, and has a wide application prospect in the field of structural shape control.
This paper considers the integrated guidance and control (IGC) problem for impact angle constrained interception against manoeuvring targets with actuator saturation constraint. Based on the backstepping technique, an adaptive IGC law is presented to address this problem, where a fixed-time differentiator is proposed to estimate the derivatives of virtual control inputs to avoid the inherent problem of “explosion of complexity” suffered by the typical backstepping. Furthermore, an auxiliary first-order filter is introduced into the IGC law to cope with the actuator saturation constraint. The stability of the closed-loop system is strictly proved. Finally, the superiority of the proposed IGC law is verified by comparison simulations.
In recent years, soft robotics is widely considered as the most promising field for both research and application. First of all, the actuator is fundamental for designing, modeling, and controlling of soft robots. This paper presents a new type of pneumatic trunk-like soft actuator, which contains a chamber for stiffness adjustment in addition to three chambers for driving. Thus, the salient feature of the proposed actuator is the ability of stiffness self-regulation. The structure of the proposed actuator is described in detail. Then the theoretical models for elongation and bending motion of the actuator are established. The elongation as well as single-chamber and multi-chamber driving bending of the actuator were tested to verify the mathematical models. Finally, a dual-segment soft robot based on the proposed trunk-like soft actuator was developed and tested by experiments, which implies its potential application in practice.
This paper presents a lower-limb exoskeleton that is actuated by pneumatic muscle actuators (PMAs). This exoskeleton system is composed of the mechanical structures, a treadmill, and a weight support system. With the cooperative work of the three parts, the system aims to assist either the elderly for muscle strengthening by conducting walking activities or the stroke patients during a rehabilitation training program. A mechanism is developed to separate the PMAs from the wearer’s legs to reduce the subject’s physical exertion. Furthermore, considering the difficulty in the modeling of proposed PMAs-driven exoskeleton, a safe and model-free control strategy called proxy-based sliding mode control (PSMC) is used to ensure proper control of the exoskeleton. However, the favorable performances are strongly dependent on the appropriate control parameters, which may be difficult to obtain with blind tuning. Therefore, we propose a global parameters optimization algorithm called switch-mode firefly algorithm (SMFA) to automatically calculate the pre-defined object function and attain the most applicable parameters. Experimental studies are conducted, and the results show the effectiveness of the proposed method.
This paper deals with the robust force and position control problems of series elastic actuators (SEAs). It is shown that an SEA’s force control problem can be described by a second-order dynamic model which suffers from only matched disturbances. However, the position control dynamics of an SEA is of fourth order and includes matched and mismatched disturbances. In other words, an SEA’s position control is more complicated than its force control, particularly when disturbances are considered. A novel robust motion controller is proposed for SEAs by using disturbance observer (DOb) and sliding mode control. When the proposed robust motion controller is implemented, an SEA can precisely track desired trajectories and safely contact with an unknown and dynamic environment. The proposed motion controller does not require precise dynamic models of environments and SEAs. Therefore, it can be applied to many different advanced robotic systems such as compliant humanoids, industrial robots and exoskeletons. The validity of the proposed motion controller is experimentally verified.
This paper addresses the neural network (NN) output feedback formation tracking control of nonholonomic wheeled mobile robots (WMRs) with limited voltage input. A desired formation is achieved based on the leader–follower strategy utilizing hyperbolic tangent saturation functions to reduce the risk of actuator saturation. The controller is developed by incorporating the high-gain observer and radial basis function (RBF) NNs using the inverse dynamics control technique. The high-gain observer is introduced to estimate velocities of the followers. The RBF NN preserves the robustness of the proposed controller against uncertain nonlinearities. The adaptive laws are also combined by a robust control term to estimate the weights of RBF NN, approximation errors, and bounds of unknown time-variant environmental disturbances. A Lyapunov-based stability analysis proves that all signals of the closed-loop system are bounded, and tracking errors are uniformly ultimately bounded. Finally, some simulations are carried out to show the effectiveness of the proposed controller for a number of WMRs.
In this study, the kinematics and dynamics of a single actuator wave (SAW)-like robot are explored. Comprising a helical spine and links, SAW has the potential for miniaturization. A kinematic model for SAW is firstly established, and the dynamic equation of motion is derived based on Kane’s method. For validation, the motion of SAW is simulated using both MATLAB and ADAMS, and the comparison of results demonstrates the effectiveness of the theoretical models. Then the inverse dynamic analysis is performed to reveal the power consumption. Finally, robot prototypes are developed and tested to confirm the robot velocity predicted by simulations.
Robots and artificial machines have been captivating the public for centuries, depicted first as threats to humanity, then as subordinates and helpers. In the last decade, the booming exposure of humans to robots has fostered an increasing interest in soft robotics. By empowering robots with new physical properties, autonomous actuation, and sensing mechanisms, soft robots are making increasing impacts on areas such as health and medicine. At the same time, the public sympathy to robots is increasing. However, there is still a great need for innovation to push robotics toward more diverse applications. To overcome the major limitation of soft robots, which lies in their softness, strategies are being explored to combine the capabilities of soft robots with the performance of hard metallic ones by using composite materials in their structures. After reviewing the major specificities of hard and soft robots, paths to improve actuation speed, stress generation, self-sensing, and actuation will be proposed. Innovations in controlling systems, modeling, and simulation that will be required to use composite materials in robotics will be discussed. Finally, based on recently developed examples, the elements needed to progress toward a new form of artificial life will be described.
For a real-time robotic prosthetic control, gait event detection plays an important role. In this paper, one novel sensor was proposed to realize gait event detection. The sensor includes one strain gauge bridge, which can reflect the entire deformation of carbon-fiber footplate on a robotic prosthesis. Three unilateral transtibial amputees participated in the experiments. Experimental results show that using the proposed sensor method, gait event detection (stance phase and swing phase) accuracy is approximately 100%. Based on the detected gait events, three locomotion modes (sit, stand, and walk) and the corresponding transition modes could be determined. Difference between different gait event detection systems was further conducted.
Materials can be endowed with unique properties by the integration of molecular motors. Molecular motors can have a biological origin or can be chemically synthesized and produce work from chemical energy or light. Their ability to access large internal or external reservoirs of energy enables a wide range of nonequilibrium behaviors, including the production of force, changes in shape, internal reorganization, and dynamic changes in mechanical properties—muscle tissue is one illustration of the possibilities. Current research efforts advance our experimental capabilities to create such “active matter” by using either biomolecular or synthetic motors, and also advance our theoretical understanding of these materials systems. Here, we introduce this exciting research field and highlight a few of the recent advances as well as open questions.
A Pneumatic Muscle Actuator (PMA) is a new pneumatic component sharing similar characteristics with biological muscles, and the flexible manipulator actuated by PMAs can better reflect the flexibility of the mechanism. First and foremost, based on the study of the characteristics of human shoulder joints, the configuration design of the flexible manipulator is analyzed, and its kinematics and dynamics models are established. Furthermore, with regard to the nonlinearity, time-invariance and uncertainty of the control system, three aspects of improvement are proposed, which are based on the Radial Basis Function (RBF) network torque control algorithm. The Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the initial values of RBF network parameters; RBF network parameters are adjusted dynamically by using the additional momentum method; the Levenberg--Marquardt (LM) algorithm, instead of the gradient descent method, is adopted to adjust Proportion Integration Differentiation (PID) parameters online in real time. At last, to test the effects that the improved algorithm exerts on the flexible manipulator control system, some physical platform experiments are carried out. It turns out that the control accuracy and robustness of the improved algorithm are well improved, and the mechanism can be controlled better to track the circular arc trajectory. It lays fundamental importance to the practical application for the working environment.
The piezoelectric properties of lead-free ferroelectric materials have been dramatically improved over the past two decades. For some limited applications, their properties have reached the same levels or have even surpassed the properties of the benchmark lead-based material Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 (PZT). Initial commercial lead-free products, including powders, ceramic components, films, and devices (e.g., ultrasonic cleaner, knocking sensor), are now available on the market. Several prototype devices, such as inkjet printheads, ultrasonic motors, angular sensors, and energy harvesters, have been developed. Their overall performance is still inferior to that of PZT-based devices; however, these prototypes and products point the way for future applications. Here, we provide an overview of recent industrial developments in the field and discuss the main advantages and disadvantages of lead-free piezoceramics for individual applications.
Electroactive conducting polymers are suitable for soft actuators (artificial muscles). The actuation is induced by electrochemical oxidation of conducting polymer (film) in an electrolyte solution, due to insertion of bulky counter ions (dopant ions). The magnitude of deformation (strain) depends on the size of dopant ions and the degree of oxidation. It is worthwhile to know the relationship between the magnitudes of deformation and ion size. An electrodeposited Polypyrrole film was electrochemically cycled in aqueous electrolytes of NaCl, NaBr, NaNO3, NaBF4 and NaClO4. The strain of film during electrochemical oxidation and reduction was precisely measured using a laser displacement meter and a handmade apparatus. From the strain and electrical charges inserted in the film during oxidation, the volumes and radii of dopant ions were estimated, assuming the isotropic expansion of the film. The estimated anion radii of Cl-, Br-, NO3-, BF4- and ClO4- were 235, 246, 250, 270 and 290, respectively. The results were discussed taking the crystallographic and hydrated ion radii in literatures into consideration.
This paper reports on what differentiates the field of soft (i.e. soft-bodied) robotics from the conventional hard (i.e. rigid-bodied) robotics. The main difference centres on seamlessly combining the actuation, sensing, motion transmission and conversion mechanism elements, electronics and power source into a continuum body that ideally holds the properties of morphological computation and programmable compliance (i.e. softness). Another difference is about the materials they are made of. While the hard robots are made of rigid materials such as metals and hard plastics with a bulk elastic modulus of as low as 1 GPa, the monolithic soft robots should be fabricated from soft and hard materials or from a strategic combination of them with a maximum elasticity modulus of 1 GPa. Soft smart materials with programmable mechanical, electrical and rheological properties, and conformable to additive manufacturing based on 3D printing are essential to realise soft robots. Selecting the actuation concept and its power source, which is the first and most important step in establishing a robot, determines the size, weight, performance of the soft robot, the type of sensors and their location, control algorithm, power requirement and its associated flexible and stretchable electronics. This paper outlines how crucial the soft materials are in realising the actuation concept, which can be inspired from animal and plant movements.
Macroscopic assembling of responsive hydrogels has been used to construct soft actuators that transform their shape upon external stimuli. It remains a challenge to establish a robust assembling interface between gels. Here, we demonstrate a fabrication of bilayered hydrogel actuators assembled by host-guest recognition at the interface. The supramolecular recognition enabled efficient, rapid, and robust macroscopic assembling of hydrogels, which was utilized to create gel bilayers that were actuated upon unbalanced swelling/deswelling.
In general, an airship is equipped with hybrid-heterogeneous actuators: the aerodynamic surfaces, the vectored propellers and the buoyant ballonets. The aerodynamic surfaces have high efficiency in attitude control at high speed. However, vectored propellers are also introduced here for attitude control under the special working condition of low airspeed. Due to the lower thrust-to-weight ratio, the composite control of hybrid-heterogeneous actuators is the primary object in controller design for an airship. In composite attitude control, first the attitude moment allocation between aerodynamic control surfaces and vectored propellers is designed according to different dynamic airspeed, to achieve the smooth motion transition from low to high airspeed, then the weighted generalised inverse (WGI) is used to design the reconfigurable actuator allocation among the homogeneous multi-actuators, where the authority of every actuator can be decided by setting the corresponding value of the weight matrix, thus the control law is unchanged under different actuator configurations. Taking the mid-altitude airship as an example, the simulations of position control, trace tracking and altitude control are provided. Simulation results demonstrate that the attitude moments allocation obtains moment distribution between the aerodynamic surfaces and the vectored propellers under different airspeeds; the reconfigurable actuator allocation achieves a good distribution and reconfiguration among homogeneous actuators, thereby enhancing the reliability of the control system.
In this paper, a non-linear tracking control algorithm is extended. The control objective of this research is to track a desired time-varying attitude of a satellite in the presence of inertia uncertainties and external disturbances, in order to be more suitable for implementation in a real-world application. In this investigation, the actuators are reaction wheels and the actuator dynamics are modelled in addition to the spacecraft dynamics. Thus, the control signal is DC motor voltage which is the most fundamental control variable and can be generated easily by a motor driver in practical cases. To achieve robust tracking of the desired time-varying attitude, a sliding mode controller is designed, and adaptive techniques are developed based on sliding mode control to overcome the inertia uncertainties and to estimate and compensate external disturbances. The kinematic equations of the satellite are expressed using quaternion parameters, and a novel control law will be derived by using a new facilitating approach in controller design, which is based on quaternion algebra, because of quaternion advantages, such as singularity rejection. Using this approach it will be more comfortable to deal with tedious mathematical operations, and on contrary with most of the previous studies, the terms corresponding to derivatives of the desired attitude are not neglected, and tracking capability is retained. The global stability of both methods (Sliding Mode Control (SMC) and adaptive sliding) is investigated using Lyapunov’s stability theorem. In order to validate the control methods, first, Simulink-ADAMS co-simulation of a 3-DOF attitude control is used to verify the algorithm performance and integrity, and finally, the control strategy is implemented on the Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT) 3-DOF attitude simulator for different types of non-linear attitudes. Both co-simulation and implementation results clearly illustrate the designed attitude control algorithm’s excellent performance in the various manoeuvres.
Most of the previous works on the motion control of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) assume that (i) the vehicle actuators are able to tolerate every level of the control signals, and (ii) the vehicle is equipped with the velocity sensors in all degrees of freedom. These assumptions are not desirable in practice. Toward this end, this paper addresses the trajectory tracking control of the underactuated AUVs with the limited torque, without the velocity measurements and under environmental disturbances in a three-dimensional space. At first, a variable transformation is introduced which helps us to derive a second-order dynamic model for underactuated AUVs. Then, a saturated tracking controller is proposed by employing the saturation functions to bound the closed-loop error variables. This technique reduces the risk of the actuators saturation by decreasing the amplitude of the generated control signals. In addition, a nonlinear saturated observer is introduced to remove the velocity sensors from the control system. The proposed controller copes with the uncertain vehicle parameters, and constant or time-varying environmental disturbances induced by the waves and ocean currents. Lyapunov's direct method is used to show the semi-global uniform ultimate boundedness of the tracking and state estimation errors. Finally, some simulation results illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed controller.
In this paper, we propose a novel type of serial robot with minimal actuation. The robot is a serial rigid structure consisting of multiple links connected by passive joints and of movable actuators. The novelty of this robot is that the actuators travel over the links to a given joint and adjust the relative angle between the two adjacent links. The joints passively preserve their angles until one of the actuators moves them again. This actuation can be applied to any serial robot with two or more links. This unique configuration enables the robot to undergo the same wide range of motions typically associated with hyper-redundant robots but with much fewer actuators. The robot is modular and its size and geometry can be easily changed. We describe the robot's mechanical design and kinematics in detail and demonstrate its capabilities for obstacle avoidance with some simulated examples. In addition, we show how an experimental robot fitted with a single mobile actuator can maneuver through a confined space to reach its target.
Variable stiffness can improve the capability of human–robot interacting. Based on the mechanism of a flexible rack and gear, a rotational joint actuator named vsaFGR is proposed to regulate the joint stiffness. The flexible gear rack can be regarded as a combination of a non-linear elastic element and a linear adjusting mechanism, providing benefits of compactness. The joint stiffness is in the range of 217–3527 N.m/rad, and it is inversely proportional to the 4th-order of the gear displacement, and nearly independent from the joint angular deflection, providing benefits of quick stiffness regulation in a short displacement of 20 mm. The gear displacement with respect to the flexible gear rack is perpendicular to the joint loading force, so the power required for stiffness regulating is as low as 14.4 W, providing benefits of energy saving. The working principles of vsaFGR are elaborated, followed by presentation on the mechanics model and the prototype. The high compactness, great stiffness range and low power cost of vsaFGR are proved by simulations and experiments.