A Low-cost Compliant 7-DOF Robotic Manipulator

We present the design of a new low-cost series- elastic robotic arm. The arm is unique in that it achieves reasonable performance for the envisioned tasks (backlash-free, sub-3mm repeatability, moves at 1.5m/s, 2kg payload) but with a significantly lower parts cost than comparable manipulators. The paper explores the design decisions and tradeoffs made in achieving this combination of price and performance. A new, human-safe design is also described: the arm uses stepper motors with a series-elastic transmission for the proximal four degrees of freedom (DOF), and non-series-elastic robotics servos for the distal three DOF. Tradeoffs of the design are discussed, especially in the areas of human safety and control bandwidth. The arm is used to demonstrate pancake cooking (pouring batter, flipping pancakes), using the intrinsic compliance of the arm to aid in interaction with objects. Authors: Morgan Quigley, Alan Asbeck, Andrew Y. Ng (2011)
AUTHORED BY
Morgan Quigley
Alan Asbeck
Andrew Y. Ng

Abstract

We present the design of a new low-cost series- elastic robotic arm. The arm is unique in that it achieves reasonable performance for the envisioned tasks (backlash-free, sub-3mm repeatability, moves at 1.5m/s, 2kg payload) but with a significantly lower parts cost than comparable manipulators. The paper explores the design decisions and tradeoffs made in achieving this combination of price and performance. A new, human-safe design is also described: the arm uses stepper motors with a series-elastic transmission for the proximal four degrees of freedom (DOF), and non-series-elastic robotics servos for the distal three DOF. Tradeoffs of the design are discussed, especially in the areas of human safety and control bandwidth. The arm is used to demonstrate pancake cooking (pouring batter, flipping pancakes), using the intrinsic compliance of the arm to aid in interaction with objects.

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