Application of Noncircular Pulleys to Straight-Fiber-Type Pneumatic Artificial Muscle Manipulator
Department of Mechanical Systems Engineering, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Yamagata University
4-3-16 Jonan, Yonezawa, Yamagata 992-8510, Japan
This study proposes a method for improving the performance of a manipulator driven by pneumatic artificial muscles. Although the straight-fiber-type pneumatic artificial muscle (SF-PAM), a kind of pneumatic artificial muscle, is lightweight and exhibits high contractile force and contraction percentage, its contractile force decreases as contraction increases. To compensate for the decrease in the SF-PAM contractile force, we developed a noncircular pulley and integrated it into the manipulator driven by a wire pulley mechanism. Because this noncircular pulley is designed in accordance with the output characteristics of SF-PAM, the contraction force of SF-PAM can be converted into manipulator torque efficiently. In addition, the radius of the noncircular pulley is expressed as a function, which can be incorporated into a numerical model for the manipulator’s controller. Subsequently, simulation and experimentation to verify the proposed method showed that, when using the same actuator, the manipulator with a noncircular pulley can optimize both output torque and range of motion better than that with a conventional circular pulley. However, a few differences between simulation results and experimental results were observed. These differences were caused by SF-PAM stretching which was not considered in the model. This drawback can be overcome by improving the SF-PAM and the numerical model in future studies. We believe that this study will provide designers of robots that coexist with humans with a high degree of freedom.
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