BLUE: A bipedal robot with variable stiffness and damping

Alexander Enoch, Sethu Vijayakumar, Andrius Sutas, Shinichiro Nakaoka

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


Exploiting variable impedance for dynamic tasks such as walking is both challenging and topical - research progress in this area impacts not only autonomous, bipedal mobility but also prosthetics and exoskeletons. In this work, we present the design, construction and preliminary testing of a planar bipedal robot with joints capable of physically varying both their stiffness and damping independently - the first of its kind. A wide variety of candidate variable stiffness and damping actuator designs are investigated. Informed by human biophysics and locomotion studies, we design an appropriate (heterogenous) impedance modulation mechanism that fits the necessary torque and stiffness range and rate requirements at each joint while ensuring the right form factor. In addition to hip, knee and ankle, the constructed robot is also equipped with a three part compliant foot modelled on human morphology. We describe in detail the hardware construction and the communication and control interfaces. We also present a full physics based dynamic simulation which matches the hardware closely. Finally, we test impedance modulation response characteristics and a basic walking gait realised through a simple movement controller, both in simulation and on the real hardware.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2012 12th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids 2012)
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-1-4673-1369-8
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event2012 12th IEEE-RAS International Conference - Business Innovation Center Osaka (Osaka Sangyo Sozokan) Osaka, Japan, Osaka, Japan
Duration: 29 Nov 20121 Dec 2012


Conference2012 12th IEEE-RAS International Conference


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