Collaborative robots (or cobots) are robots that can safely work together or interact with humans in a common space. They gradually become noticeable nowadays. Compliant actuators are very relevant for the design of cobots. This type of actuation scheme mitigates the damage caused by unexpected collision. Therefore, elastic joints are considered to outperform rigid joints when operating in a dynamic environment. However, most of the available elastic robots are relatively costly or difficult to construct. To give researchers a solution that is inexpensive, easily customisable, and fast to fabricate, a newly-designed low-cost, and open-source design of an elastic joint is presented in this work. Based on the newly design elastic joint, a highly-compliant multi-purpose 2-DOF robot arm for safe human-robot interaction is also introduced. The mechanical design of the robot and a position control algorithm are presented. The mechanical prototype is 3D-printed. The control algorithm is a two loops control scheme. In particular, the inner control loop is designed as a model reference adaptive controller (MRAC) to deal with uncertainties in the system parameters, while the outer control loop utilises a fuzzy proportional-integral controller to reduce the effect of external disturbances on the load. The control algorithm is first validated in simulation. Then the effectiveness of the controller is also proven by experiments on the mechanical prototype.
Keywords: collaborative robot; human-robot interaction; robot arm; robotics; series elastic actuator.
Copyright © 2021 Tuan, Sanfilippo and Hao.