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A Novel Framework for a Systematic Integration of Pneumatic-Muscle-Actuator-Driven Joints into Robotic Systems Via a Torque Control Interface

Martens, Mirco; Seel, Thomas; Zawatzki, Johannes; Boblan, Ivo

In this paper, two different torque control approaches for PMA-driven (PMA = Pneumatic muscle actuator) revolute joints are presented and tested. In previous work controllers for PMA-driven robots are typically customized for the use on a specific robotic system. In contrast, the proposed controllers define a general control interface for every robot that is actuated by PMA-driven joints. It will be shown that controlling the torque of a PMA-driven joint enables the use of standard robotic motion control frameworks, because the torque represents the natural input of the robotic equation of motion. Therefore, both proposed torque control approaches are interconnecting PMAs and their challenging characteristics on the one hand and “conventional” motion control strategies for robots on the other hand. After a detailed discussion of two different torque control approaches, we show that a torque controller handles all characteristics and dynamics of a PMA-driven joint internally, which implies that only its bandwidth and its static torque characteristic must be taken into account for the design of the outer motion control loop. This feature simplifies the integration of PMA-driven joints in robotic systems enormously, as will be demonstrated by a design of a cascade-structured, flatness-based motion controller for an exemplary robot with one degree of freedom.
Published in: Actuators, 10.3390/act7040082, MDPI