Over the past two decades increased interest has been devoted to developing 'compliant' robotic systems, which incorporate a degree of 'give' or 'softness' into the typical rigid, linked system. In early applications, compliant systems allowed robots to perform force-sensitive tasks such as surface grinding. More recently, interest has grown in developing wearable robots & exoskeletons to enhance strength or restore lost functionality. In developing such systems, designers must face the issues of weight, power consumption, and operator safety.To meet the challenges inherent in these constraints, actuators based upon spring concepts offer a promising solution. Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a suite of leaf-spring actuator concepts which are inherently compliant, energy-conservative, and lightweight. These leaf-spring actuators dynamically vary the length, moment of inertia, or both to achieve varied stiffness and applied force. Due to this dynamic flexibility, the leaf-spring actuators are well suited for use in wearable systems.
|Published - May 17 2004