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Journal of Robotics
Volume 2011, Article ID 735407, 15 pages
Research Article

Output-Based Control of Robots with Variable Stiffness Actuation

Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informatica e Sistemistica, Università di Bologna, Viale Risorgimento 2, 40136 Bologna, Italy

Received 12 April 2011; Accepted 25 August 2011

Academic Editor: G. Muscato

Copyright © 2011 Gianluca Palli and Claudio Melchiorri. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The output-based control of a redundant robotic manipulator with relevant and adjustable joint stiffness is addressed. The proposed controller is configured as a cascade system that allows the decoupling of the actuators dynamics from the arm dynamics and the consequent reduction of the order of the manipulator dynamic model. Moreover, the proposed controller does not require the knowledge of the whole robot state: only the positions of the actuators and of the joints are necessary. This approach represents a significant simplification with respect to previously proposed state feedback techniques. The problem of controlling simultaneously the position trajectory and the desired stiffness in both the joint and work space is investigated, and the relations between the manipulator redundancy and the selection of both the joint and work space stiffness of the manipulator are discussed. The effectiveness of the proposed approach is verified by simulations of a 3 degrees of freedom planar manipulator.