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Volume 22 Issue 3 - Publication Date: 1 March 2003
 
Enhanced Modelling and Performance in Braided Pneumatic Muscle Actuators
 
Steve Davis, N. Tsagarakis, J. Canderle and Darwin G. Caldwell Department of Electronic Engineering, University of Salford, Salford, Lancashire M5 4WT, UK
 
Pneumatic technology has been successfully applied for over two millennia. Even today, pneumatic cylinder based technology forms the keystone of many manufacturing processes where there is a need for simple, high-speed, low-cost, reliable motion. But when the system requires accurate control of position, velocity or acceleration profiles, these actuators form a far from satisfactory solution. Braided pneumatic muscle actuators (pMAs) form an interesting development of the pneumatic principle offering even higher power/weight performance, operation in a wide range of environments and accurate control of position, motion and force. This technology provides an interesting and potentially very successful alternative actuation source for robots as well as other applications. However, there are difficulties with this approach due to the following.
(i) Modeling errors. Models of the force response are still non-optimal and for good results these models are highly complex, which makes accurate design difficult.
(ii) Low bandwidth-the bandwidth of the actuator-link assemblies are often considered to be too low for practical success in many applications, particularly robotics.
In this paper we address these limitations and show how the performance in each area can be enhanced with overall improvements in the response and utility of the braided pMAs.
 
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