Control of a Heavy-Lift Robotic Manipulator with Pneumatic Artificial Muscles

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Robinson, R.M.; Kothera, C.S.; Wereley, N.M. Control of a Heavy-Lift Robotic Manipulator with Pneumatic Artificial Muscles. Actuators 2014, 3, 41-65.


Lightweight, compliant actuators are particularly desirable in robotic systems intended for interaction with humans. Pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs) exhibit these characteristics and are capable of higher specific work than comparably-sized hydraulic actuators and electric motors. The objective of this work is to develop a control algorithm that can smoothly and accurately track the desired motions of a manipulator actuated by pneumatic artificial muscles. The manipulator is intended for lifting humans in nursing assistance or casualty extraction scenarios; hence, the control strategy must be capable of responding to large variations in payload over a large range of motion. The present work first investigates the feasibility of two output feedback controllers (proportional-integral-derivative and fuzzy logic), but due to the limitations of pure output feedback control, a model-based feedforward controller is developed and combined with output feedback to achieve improved closed-loop performance. The model upon which the controller is based incorporates the internal airflow dynamics, the physical parameters of the pneumatic muscles and the manipulator dynamics. Simulations were performed in order to validate the control algorithms, guide controller design and predict optimal gains. Using real-time interface software and hardware, the controllers were implemented and experimentally tested on the manipulator, demonstrating the improved capability.