Workshop 1: Novel bioinspired actuator designs for robotics (BioAct)

Organizers: Maziar Ahmad Sharbafi, Tom Verstraten, Peter P. Pott, Philipp Beckerle, and Andre Seyfarth

Timeslot: 9:30 – 17:30

Room: Carré 2G


Through evolution, muscles have been optimized to generate and fine-tune motions. They provide highly versatile force sources, i.e., they have extremely low impedance (perfectly back-drivable), provide functional damping and low stiction. Although their bandwidth is limited, it is sufficient for even highly dynamic human/animal locomotion. Some biological principles can be applied to robotics, e.g., the addition of compliance to traditional rigid actuators. Elastic actuators can increase safety in human-robot interaction, improve energy efficiency, reduce impacts and augment performance in dynamic tasks. While such actuators have been researched extensively over the past two decades, there are still various open questions. These relate to the fundamental properties mentioned above, but also to their implementation and control as well as the integration of their hard- and software. Elastic actuators have been applied in wearable robotic devices, rehabilitation robots and humanoid robots. In the last years, bio-inspired approaches have brought the capabilities of elastic actuators closer to those of the human muscle, e.g., by introducing redundancy to mimic the muscle fibre recruitment. Another level of redundancy can be achieved by employing mono- and bi-articular actuators to achieve designs with increased robustness and simplified control. We plan to divide the workshop in four sessions comprising three talks of around 20 minutes. At the end of each session, there will be an extensive discussion (around 30 minutes) between participants and speakers. The speakers are encouraged to present their developments in live demonstrations during their talks and in the subsequent discussion. Besides the invited talks and discussion, the organizers will call for posters to be presented within the workshop.

Speakers and Agenda:

Session 1: Recent research on biological actuation – what can we learn from biology?

  • Dynamical muscle behaviours (Christian Rode, Friedrich Scheller Universität Jena)
  • Neuromuscular control (Massimo Sartori, University of Twente)
  • Segmentation and redundancy in actuation (serial and parallel combinations of different
  • actuators) (Andre Seyfarth, TU Darmstadt)

Session 2: Variable impedance actuators and parallel compliance and their relation to biology

  • VIA and SPEA (Series-Parallel Elastic Actuators) (Bram Vanderborght, Vrije Universiteit Brussel).
  • Lightweight, low-power electroadhesive clutches for biorobotic actuation (Steve Collins, Stanford
  • University)
  • Elastic actuation in robotics and control (Sami Haddadin, Leibniz Universität Hannover)

Session 3: State of the art of engineered actuators approaching muscle behaviours

  • Muscle-like actuation (Joshua Schultz, University of Tulsa)
  • Attempts to develop artificial muscles (Koh Hosoda, Osaka University).
  • Hybrid actuator and redundancy to mimic biological locomotor actuation behaviour (Maziar Sharbafi, TU Darmstadt & Tom Verstraten, Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Session 4: Application of bioinspired actuators in robots and assistive devices.

  • System integration of hardware and software in prosthetics and orthotics (Heike Vallery, TU Delft)
  • Implementation of explosive compliant actuation in the AMPfoot prosthesis (Pierre Cherelle, Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
  • Implementation of parallel elastic actuation in the RoboMate (Stefano Toxiri, Instituto Italiano de Technologia)

Website: coming soon.