Constraint-based Equilibrium and Stiffness Control of Variable Stiffness Actuators

Matthew Howard, David J. Braun, Sethu Vijayakumar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

17 Citations (Scopus)


Considerable research effort has gone into the design of variable passive stiffness actuators (VSAs). A number of different mechanical designs have been proposed, aimed at either a biomorphic (i.e., antagonistic) design, compactness, or simplified modelling and control. In this paper, we propose a (model-based) unified control methodology that is able to exploit the benefits of variable stiffness independent of the specifics of the mechanical design. Our approach is based on forming constraints on commands sent to the VSA to ensure that the equilibrium position and stiffness of the VSA are tracked to the desired values. We outline how our approach can be used for tracking stiffness and equilibrium position both in joint and task space, and how it may be used in the context of constrained local optimal control. In our experiments we illustrate the utility of our approach in the context of online teleoperation, to transfer compliant human behaviour to a variable stiffness device.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)978-1-61284-386-5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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