Effects of passive parallel compliance in tendon-driven robotic hands
Niehues, Taylor D.
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Humans utilize the inherent biomechanical compliance present in their fingers for increased stability and dexterity during manipulation tasks. While series elastic actuation has been explored, little research has been performed on the role of joint compliance arranged in parallel with the actuators. The goal of this thesis is to demonstrate, through simulation studies and experimental analyses, the advantages gained by employing human-like passive compliance in finger joints when grasping. We first model two planar systems: a single 2-DOF (degree of freedom) finger and a pair of 2-DOF fingers grasping an object. In each case, combinations of passive joint compliance and active stiffness control are implemented, and the impulse disturbance responses are compared. The control is carried out at a limited sampling frequency, and an energy analysis is performed to investigate stability. Our approach reveals that limited controller frequency leads to increased actuator energy input and hence a less stable system, and human-like passive parallel compliance can improve stability and robustness during grasping tasks. Then, an experimental setup is designed consisting of dual 2-DOF tendon-driven fingers. An impedance control law for two-fingered object manipulation is developed, using a novel friction compensation technique for improved actuator force control. This is used to experimentally quantify the advantages of parallel compliance during dexterous manipulation tasks, demonstrating smoother trajectory tracking and improved stability and robustness to impacts.