Modeling, control, and numerical simulations of a Novel Binary-Controlled Variable Stiffness Actuator (BcVSA)

Irfan Hussain, Ahmad Albalasie, Mohammad I. Awad, Lakmal Seneviratne, Dongming Gan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This research work aims at realizing a new compliant robotic actuator for safe human-robotic interaction. In this paper, we present the modeling, control, and numerical simulations of a novel Binary-Controlled Variable Stiffness Actuator (BcVSA) aiming to be used for the development of a novel compliant robotic manipulator. BcVSA is the proof of concept of the active revolute joint with the variable recruitment of series-parallel elastic elements. We briefly recall the basic design principle which is based on a stiffness varying mechanism consisting of a motor, three inline clutches, and three torsional springs with stiffness values (K0, 2K0, 4K0) connected to the load shaft and the motor shaft through two planetary sun gear trains with ratios (4:1, 4:1 respectively). We present the design concept, stiffness and dynamic modeling, and control of our BcVSA. We implemented three kinds of Multiple Model Predictive Control (MPC) to control our actuator. The main motivation of choosing this controller lies in the fact that working principle of multiple MPC and multiple states space representation (stiffness level) of our actuator share similar interests. In particular, we implemented Multiple MPC, Multiple Explicit MPC, and Approximated Multiple Explicit MPC. Numerical simulations are performed in order to evaluate their effectiveness for the future experiments on the prototype of our actuator. The simulation results showed that the Multiple MPC, and the Multiple Explicit MPC have similar results from the robustness point of view. On the other hand, the robustness performance of Approximated Multiple Explicit MPC is not good as compared to other controllers but it works in the offline framework while having the capability to compute the sub-optimal results. We also performed the comparison of MPC based controllers with the Computed Torque Control (CTC), and Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR). In future, we are planning to test the presented approach on the hardware prototype of our actuator.

Original languageBritish English
Article number68
JournalFrontiers in Robotics and AI
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - 2018


  • Actuator control
  • Human-robotic interaction
  • MPC
  • Multiple MPC
  • Safety
  • Variable stiffness actuators


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