You are here

A New Generation of Actuators for Robotic Systems


OBJECTIVE: Design and prototype adaptive actuators for medical robotic systems to improve the robotic capacity needed for future medical robotic applications, such as heavy patient lifting, combat casualty evacuation, dexterous manipulation, and combat casualty care. DESCRIPTION: Background. Today"s robot systems have been evolving from industrial applications into human services. Robots are transferred from a caged or fenced application environment into a human co-existing world. Many service robotic systems have been built for supporting human interactions and servicing, such as rehabilitation robots, assistive robots, etc. The most important feature for the robots applied in the human world and with human interactions, is intrinsic safety built into the actuation. For a wide variety of applications robotic system designers have been facing challenges in developing robotic systems with necessary safe actuation, sufficient strength, desirable agility in response, and control accuracy and flexibility, for dexterous manipulation. Adaptive actuation is highly desired for human centered interaction and applications , particularly when assistance and cooperative collaboration with variable payloads is planned. Such adaptive robotic actuation must have compact, configurable hardware and embedded software and support human-robot interactions. So far, research on adjustable actuation is mainly focused on adaptive or adjustable actuation on biped locomotion control for interacting with an unstructured environment and energy efficient actuation. Although there are applications of compliant actuation in humanoid manipulation, there is none in"adaptive"compliant actuation for robotic manipulation to date. The key requirements for developing such adaptive actuators are: (1) adjustable component parameters or structure, (2) precise force and strength control, (3) modular structure, (4) sufficient bandwidth for desirable dynamic response time, (5) intrinsic safe mechanism, and (6) effectiveness for dexterous manipulation and human-robot interactions. Topic Description. In robotic applications such as patient lifting in a clinical setting, or casualty evacuation in a combat situation, very small actuators are required producing very high torque yet consuming little power. A robotic nurse"s assistant, for example, needs to perform a gentle pulling/rolling action to move a patient onto one side; as well as have brute-force power to lift and transport a heavy patient. On-the-other-hand, a combat medic may require a robotic system with dexterous manipulation capability to extract a casualty from a confined space and then brute-force power to lift and evacuate the casualty Research to date has yet to solve these challenges. Robotic casualty extraction and evacuation research conducted or sponsored by the Army has yet to solve the challenges posed by safely picking up wounded soldiers. For evacuation of wounded from live fire zone dragging is preferred to lifting. However, grabbing soldier by his/her collar or harness and pulling them along requires the casualty care robotic system to have a haptic feedback capability in the end effectors. Significant research challenges remain in adapting, integrating, and developing new robotic actuator technologies to approach, safely pick-up and extract humans to safety where they can be triaged, treated and further evacuated by medical or other first responders. PHASE I: Conduct research and collect data to determine the state-ofthe-science in adjustable, compliant robotic actuation for medical robotic system applications in the areas of general healthcare, patient lifting, elderly care, combat casualty evacuation, dexterous manipulation, and humanoid robot operations. Provide a detailed report describing the conceptual design of adaptive actuators for healthcare, combat casualty care, patient lifting, combat casualty evacuation etc. Identify design features and design approaches that will improve the operational capacity for the above medical robotic applications. Deliver a proof-of-concept feasibility study of the design in Phase I. Subsystem or component brassboard or benchboard demonstrations are encouraged. DELIVERABLES: (1) Determine state-of-the art for adjustable, compliant robotic actuation for the medical missions and tasks described above (document), (2) Conceptual design of a new adaptive actuator for the missions and tasks described above, and addressing current constraints and issues with existing actuators (document), (3) Proof-of-concept feasibility study supporting the conceptual design (document) and (4) Subsytem"brassboard"demonstration desired (laboratory demonstration), (5) Initial commercialization plan (document). PHASE II: Design, develop and demonstrate a functional prototype of such an adaptive actuator to enhance robotic operation capabilities for general healthcare, patient lifting, elderly care, combat casualty evacuation, dexterous manipulation, and humanoid robot operations. The actuator hardware and embedded software should be able to cover all (preferred) or a subset of requirements listed below: Sufficient strength for heavy patient lifting and combat casualty evacuation Sufficient range of motion for a desirable work space of robotic system Effective dynamic response during dexterous manipulation Acceptable operation accuracy in casualty care and necessary treatments Adjustable parameters of actuation components during operation tasks when the payload varies Work safely and robustly with modular and compact design Work well for human-robot interactions and certain sensory perception Demonstrate better performance (size, weight, power consumed, force generated, etc.) than current actuators employed on robotic/UGV platforms such as: BEAR, cRONA and Warrior Technology Readiness Level goal of TRL-4/5 DELIVERABLES: (1) Demonstration of a prototype actuator, including hardware and software, meeting the Phase II performance goals on a robot or unmanned ground vehicle (demonstration, videos, documents), (2) Robust and largely complete commercialization plan (document). PHASE III: The ultimate goal of this research is to provide a new type of actuator for medical robot systems to enhance healthcare quality and improve combat casualty evacuation capabilities to save soldiers"lives. These adaptive actuators will also be applicable in service robots for warehouse merchandise handling, industrial production assembly line, search and rescue robots, fire fighter assistant robots, IED disposal robots, and numerous industrial robotic applications. Goal is TRL-7/8. DELIVERABLES: (1) Products (software, hardware, documentation) ready for commercialization and a demonstration on a robot or unmanned ground vehicle in a realistic operational environment. REFERENCES: 1. ATA2011 Video News Release on Advanced Medical Robotic Technologies: 2. US Army Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center, Robotics Autonomous Casualty Care Programs, & url=projects%2Fwebsite_robotics%2Findex.html 3. USAMRMC TATRC Robotic Casualty Extraction and Evacuation Program: 4. Sanjay Dastoor and Mark Cutkosky, Variable Impedance due to Electromechanical Coupling in Electroactive Polymer Actuators, 5. Pieter Beyl, Bram Vanderborght, Ronald Van Ham, et al, Compliant Actuation in New Robotic Applications, 6. Jakob Oblak and Zlatko Matjacc, Design of a series visco-elastic actuator for multi-purpose rehabilitation haptic device, Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation, 10:1186/1743-0003-8-3, January 20, 2011 7. Reza Ghorbani and Qiong Wu, Closed Loop Control of an Intentionally Adjustable Compliant Actuator, Proc. of the 2006 American Control Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, June 14-16, 2006 8. Bram Vanderborght, Nikos Tsagarakis, Claudio Semini, Ronald Van Ham and Darwin Caldwell, MACCEPA 2.0: Adjustable Compliant Actuator with Stiffening Characteristic for Energy Efficient Hopping, Proc of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Kobe, Japan, May 12-17, 2009
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government