Clutched Elastic Actuators

Michiel Plooij, Wouter Wolfslag, Martijn Wisse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper identifies the class of actuators called clutched elastic actuators (CEAs). CEAs use clutches to control the energy flow into springs. CEAs in exoskeletons, prostheses, legged robots, and robotic arms have shown the ability to reduce the energy consumption and motor requirements, such as peak torque and peak power. Because of those abilities, they are increasingly used in robotics. In this paper, we categorize existing CEA designs, identify trends in those designs, and provide a method to analyze their functionality. Based on a literature survey, current CEA designs are placed in nine categories, depending on their morphology. The main trend is that CEA designs are becoming more complex, meaning that the number of clutches and springs increases. We show with the introduced mathematical analysis that the functionality can be analyzed with a constraint matrix, a stiffness matrix, and multiplication of a clutch-dependent diagonal matrix with an oriented incidence matrix. This method eases the analysis of the functionality of CEAs. Furthermore, it can lead to new CEA designs in which the number of resulting stiffnesses grows exponentially with the number of springs and clutches.
Index Terms—Actuators, energy consumption, mechanical energy, robot dynamics, springs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-750
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2017


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