Compliant actuation based on dielectric elastomers for a force-feedback device: modeling and experimental evaluation

R. Vertechy, M. Bergamasco, G. Berselli, V. Parenti Castelli, G. Vassura


Thanks to their large power densities, low costs and shock-insensitivity, Dielectric Elastomers (DE)seem to be a promising technology for the implementation of light and compact force-feedback devices such as,for instance, haptic interfaces. Nonetheless, the development of these kinds of DE-based systems is not trivialowing to the relevant dissipative phenomena that affect the DE when subjected to rapidly changingdeformations. In this context, the present paper addresses the development of a force feedback controller foran agonist-antagonist linear actuator composed of a couple of conically-shaped DE films and a compliantmechanism behaving as a negative-rate bias spring. The actuator is firstly modeled accounting for the viscohyperelasticnature of the DE material. The model is then linearized and employed for the design of a forcecontroller. The controller employs a position sensor, which determines the actuator configuration, and a forcesensor, which measures the interaction force that the actuator exchanges with the environment. In addition, anoptimum full-state observer is also implemented, which enables both accurate estimation of the time-dependentbehavior of the elastomeric material and adequate suppression of the sensor measurement noise. Preliminaryexperimental results are provided to validate the proposed actuator-controller architecture

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