Skip to Main Content
In this paper, a new actuator with adjustable stiffness (AwAS) is presented. AwAS is capable of controlling the position and stiffness of a joint, independently. The proposed actuator can regulate the joint stiffness through a wide range with minimum energy consumption by means of a small motor. This is possible due to its novel mechanical configuration that achieves the stiffness regulation not through the control of spring pretension (as in most of the existing variable stiffness joints) but by using the variable lever arm principle. The regulation of the lever arm length is achieved through the displacement of the spring elements. An important consequence of this mechanism is that the displacement needed to change the stiffness is perpendicular to the forces generated by the spring. This helps to reduce the energy/power required to regulate the stiffness. It is experimentally shown that AwAS is capable of minimizing energy consumption through exploiting the natural dynamics in real time for both fixed and variable frequency motions.