The purpose of the experiment MODUL is the transfer of results from research on series elastic actuation (SEA) principles into a modular, robust, and self-contained product. To this end, the Autonomous Systems Lab (ASL) refines the existing mechanical design and control algorithms while the industrial partner CDD Ltd. is developing compact motor control electronics that are tightly integrated in the device. This modular actuator will combine multiple advantages such as accurate output torque controllability, minimal impedance, impact robustness as well as the capabilities for temporary energy storage and peak power amplification. These properties make our SEAs ideal for robotic machines interacting with humans or the environment. Thanks to an elaborated arrangement of components and a sophisticated sealing concept, the entire device will be protected against ingress of solid particles and liquids and will thus be well-suited for outdoor operation. Furthermore, a solid hollow shaft with large bearing capabilities simplifies cable routing and ensures that the actuator can be used as self-contained joint.
The performance and applicability of the developed actuator module is tested in a quadrupedal walking robot developed by ASL as part of the experiment. Due to the high specific actuator torque and power, the quadrupedal robot will be able to carry more than 10kg (50% of body weight) as payload. The large range of motion in all joints provides the basis for advanced climbing skills while the fast joint speed and impact robustness make high-dynamic maneuvers possible. The ultimate goal of MODUL is the performance validation of the complete platform in outdoor experiments.
By providing the proposed actuator units and a field-ready legged robot, ASL and CDD plan to path the road for coming applications in industry and research with robots that are well-suited to work in and to interact with unstructured environments.
The partner of our group in this project is:
CDD Ltd., Greece (http://www.cdd.gr)
CDD Limited is a small company based in Greece, operating in the field of electronics and automation systems. CDD Ltd is currently developing an open robotic platform, which has already been applied to control an 8-DOF robotic system, and thus successfully controlling a walking robotic mechanism (EU project: Walk-X). Within the experiment MODUL, CDD is responsible for the development and production of customized motor control electronics for the actuator module.