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Assistive robotics is an increasingly popular research field, which has led to a large number of commercial and noncommercial systems aimed at assisting physically impaired or elderly users in the activities of daily living. In this article, we propose five criteria based on robotic arm usage scenarios and surveys with which assistive robotic arms can be classified. Different possibilities and implementations to obtain each criterion are treated, and examples of current assistive robotic arms are given. Implementations and systems are discussed and rated qualitatively, which leads to the observation that variable stiffness actuation offers great benefits for assistive robotic systems despite an increase in the overall complexity.
Date of Publication: March 2013