Series Elastic Actuators

Unknown author (1995-09-07)

This thesis presents the design, construction, control and evaluation of a novel force controlled actuator. Traditional force controlled actuators are designed from the premise that "Stiffer is better''. This approach gives a high bandwidth system, prone to problems of contact instability, noise, and low power density. The actuator presented in this thesis is designed from the premise that "Stiffness isn't everything". The actuator, which incorporates a series elastic element, trades off achievable bandwidth for gains in stable, low noise force control, and protection against shock loads. This thesis reviews related work in robot force control, presents theoretical descriptions of the control and expected performance from a series elastic actuator, and describes the design of a test actuator constructed to gather performance data. Finally the performance of the system is evaluated by comparing the performance data to theoretical predictions.