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Design and Hybrid Control of the Pneumatic Force-feedback Systems for Arm-Exoskeleton by Using on-Off Valve

Design and Hybrid Control of the Pneumatic Force-feedback Systems for Arm-Exoskeleton by Using on-Off Valve

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Technical note
Design and hybrid control of the pneumatic force-feedback systemsfor Arm-Exoskeleton by using on/off valve
Chen Ying, Zhang Jia-fan
*
, Yang Can-jun, Niu Bin
The State Key Laboratory of Fluid Power Transmission and Control, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, PR China
Received 26 March 2006; accepted 2 April 2007
Abstract
This article models a pneumatic force-feedback system consisting of the double-acting cylinder and a set of high-speed on–off valves,and its fuzzy controller in order to provide an insight into pneumatic system design and force-feedback control requirements of the Arm-Exoskeleton, which is applied in robot-teleoperation and robotics. In modeling, effects of nonlinear flow through the valves, air com-pressibility in cylinder chambers, and time delay and attenuation of the pressure input in the connecting tubes are considered. Basedon this mathematical model, the hybrid fuzzy control method for the precise force-feedback control is proposed and the fuzzy controllersare realized with the Mega8 MCUs as the units of the distributed control system in the Arm-Exoskeleton. At last a series of experimentsvalidated the models and control method.
Ó
2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords:
Pneumatic; Force-feedback system; Mathematical model; High-speed on–off valve; Hybrid fuzzy control; Exoskeleton-arm
1. Introduction
The Arm-Exoskeletons with force-feedback have beenwidely designed and used in the fields of robot teleopera-tion, haptic interface to enhance the performance of thehuman operator, also in the exciting applications in surgeryplanning, personnel training, and physical rehabilitation.These all need a high-performance force actuator. Overthe traditional geared servo-electrical motors, the pneu-matic actuators have significant advantages in terms of tor-que-to-mass ratio and its ability to produce high-staticforces without overheat dissipating system, which is animportant requirement for robot teleoperation and hapticinterfaces[1]. We believe that the pneumatic actuatorsare the ideal force actuator in our Arm-Exoskeleton,ZJUESA. The ZJUESA Arm-Exoskeleton with 6 DOF isdesigned for the robot manipulator master/slave control,which is used under water. It requires lightweight, goodmanipulation character, especially clearance.However, the position and force control of these actua-tors in applications that require high-bandwidth are some-what difficult, because of the compressibility of air and itseffectbothontheactuatorsandvalves[2].Besides,thehighlynonlinear flow through pneumatic system components, andthe pressure dropping and time-delay along the connectingtube also result in the control errors. In this paper, we ana-lyze the dynamic behavior of the pneumatic cylinders andhigh-speedon–offvalves,andthen build thesimple andpre-cise mathematical model of them. According to the givenmodels, a hybrid fuzzy controller is implemented by sets of Mega8 MCUs as the units of the distributed control systemfor our pneumatic force-feedback system.The article is arranged such that we present a technicaloverview of the ZJUESA Arm-Exoskeleton system in Sec-tion2. Then we describe the mathematical models of theelements in the pneumatic system in Section3and fuzzycontroller design in Section4. Consequently, the resultsof the experiments and their analysis are presented in Sec-tion5, followed by discussions and conclusions.
0957-4158/$ - see front matter
Ó
2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.mechatronics.2007.04.001
*
Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 571 87953096.
E-mail address:
caffeezhang@hotmail.com(Z. Jia-fan).Mechatronics 17 (2007) 325–335
 
2. Relative works
Presence in the unstructured environment, the master/slave robot teleoperaion plays an important role betweenthe operator and the machine. Since the pioneering workof Goertz[3], a number of similar system and schemes havebeen proposed. In the teleoperation conditions it is foundthat the force-feedback can give the operator a fidelity feel-ing of the manipulating, what increases the performancesignificantly with all measures and reduces spending time.Also the manipulating accuracy is always improved asopposed to only visual or sound feedback.Since the force-feedback is introduced into the teleoper-ation, the type of the force actuator has been a hotspot inresearch. The force actuators can be categorized into fol-lowing series: servo-electrical motor, hydraulic actuator,pneumatic actuator including artificial muscle, electror-heological fluid and other new types of actuators[4–8].Among them, the pneumatic actuators have significantadvantages over the electrical-servo motors in terms of tor-que-to-mass ratio and their ability to produce high-staticforces without overheating, and have lightweight and clear-ance merits relative to the hydraulic actuators. Jeong et al.[5]based on the human joint anatomy and introduced the3RPS parallel mechanism into the exoskeleton-type masterarm with pneumatic actuators at the shoulder and wristmulti-degrees joint. We follow this concept and design anExoskeleton-Arm, ZJUESA, as shown inFig. 1, for theSchilling underwater master/slave robot manipulation[14].Fig. 2explains the schematic diagram of the entire system. The hexagons represent the six key componentsof the Schilling Robot master/slave control system withits Exoskeleton-Arm Manipulator. The oranges representthe master manipulator system and the blues are slaverobot system. The Internet or Ethernet acts as the bridgebetween these two sides.However, most of the pneumatic force and position con-trol problems source from the air compressibility and itseffect on both the actuators and valves. Due to these diffi-culties, early use of pneumatic actuators was limited to sim-ple applications where position only required at the twoends of a stroke. In the last decade, with more accuracymathematical models for the thermodynamic and flowequations in the charging/discharging processes[2,11],and the intelligent controller developing, nonlinear controltechniques were implemented by using digital computers.Bobrow and Jabbari used adaptive control for force actu-ation and trajectory tracking, applied to an air-poweredrobot[9]. But the mathematical models used in thesecontrollers assumed no piston seals friction, linear flowthrough the valve, and neglected the valve dynamics.Ben-Dov and Salcudean developed a force-controlledpneumatic actuator that provided a force with amplitudeof 2 N at 16 Hz[10]. Kaitwanidvilai and Parnichkunapplied the hybrid adaptive neuro-fuzzy model for theforce control, Bang–bang method for the case in whichthe actual output is far away from the set point, whilethe hybrid ANFMRC is applied in medium and small errorranges to perform a good response[13]. In addition, thestability of the pneumatic system with the symmetric valvecontrolled double-acting cylinder is concentrated[20,21].Unfortunately many of these systems, though successful,use expensive proportional servo valves and pressure sen-sor feedback loops and the external loads are also assumedto be constant or slowly varying.In this paper, a hybrid fuzzy controller was designedand the pneumatic force control was implemented, basedon the pneumatic cylinder and valve thermodynamic andflow mathematic models with the considering of timedelay and attenuation influence along the tube line. Thenseveral experiments were fulfilled and the results werecompared with ones obtained by numerical simulation inMATLAB.
Fig. 1. The Exoskeleton-Arm, ZJUESA, and the schilling slave robot.Fig. 2. The schematic diagram of the entire system.326
C. Ying et al. / Mechatronics 17 (2007) 325–335
 
3. Model of the force-feedback pneumatic system
A typical pneumatic system consists of force elements(the pneumatic cylinders or motors), commanding devices(valves), connecting tubes, and sensors of position, pressureand force.Fig. 3shows the scheme of one of the on–off valve-cylinder systems in the ZJUESA. There are total 7setsofthepneumaticcontrolsystem,whichareindependentof each other and work for each actuator respectively.The high-speed on–off valves, working as the commandcomponents in the system, are controlled by the PWM(pulse width modification) signal from the control unit.Rather than the proportional or servo valve, this is an inex-pensive and widely used method in the application of posi-tion and force control in the pneumatic system[13,16–18]with higher frequency response and simpler control circuit.To simplify the control algorithm, there is just one valve onwork in any time. For instance, when a leftward force iswanted, the valve
1
works and valve
2
is out of work.We can control the pressure
1
in the chamber 1 by mod-ifying the PWM signals. The chamber 2 connects to theatmosphere at that time and the pressure
2
inside thechamber 2 of cylinder is absolute ambient pressure, andvice versa. At each port of the cylinder, there is a pressuresensor to detect the pressure value inside the chamber forthe close-loop control. And the throttle valves are equippedfor limiting the flow out of the chamber to reduce pistonvibrations.
3.1. Cylinder chamber model 
As to the charging and discharging process, severalmodels have been put forward. For each model, it is alwaysassumed that:
air is the ideal gas;
the pressure and temperature is homogeneous within thechamber;
kinetic and potential energy terms are taken out of consideration.Al-Ibrahim and Otis found experimentally that the tem-perature inside the chambers lays between the theoreticaladiabatic and isothermal curves. The experimental valuesof the temperature were close to the adiabatic curve onlyfor the charging process. For the discharging of the cham-ber the isothermal assumption was closer to the measuredvalues[12]. In this article we start from this viewpoint.In general, the model for a volume of gas contains threebasic equations: (1) ideal gas law; (2) the conservationof mass equation or continuity equation; (3) the energyequation.
 P 
¼
q
 RT 
;
_
m
¼
dd
ð
 PV  
Þ
;
q
in
À
q
out
þ
kC 
v
ð
_
m
in
in
À
_
m
out
Þ À
_
W  
¼
_
;
8><>:
ð
1
Þ
where,
R
is the ideal gas constant;
_
m
in
and
_
m
out
are the massflow entering and leaving the chamber;
q
in
and
q
out
are theheat transfer;
is the heat ratio;
v
is the heat at constantvolume;
in
is the temperature of the air entering the cham-ber and
is atmosphere temperature, here we assume
in
¼
;
_
W  
is the rate of the change in the work and
_
isthe change of internal energy, which can be expressed asfollowing:
_
¼
dd
ð
v
mT 
Þ
:
ð
2
Þ
Now substitute
_
W  
¼
_
V  
and
v
¼
R
=
ð
À
1
Þ
into Eqs.(1) and (2):
q
in
À
q
out
þ
À
1
 R
q
ð
_
m
in
À
_
m
out
Þ À
À
1
 P 
_
V  
¼
1
À
1
V  
_
 P 
:
ð
3
Þ
Eq.(3)can be simplified by different heat transfer term.If the charging process is considered as adiabatic, i.e.,
q
in
À
q
out
¼
0,
_
 P 
¼
RT V  
ð
_
m
in
À
_
m
out
Þ À
V  
_
V  
ð
4
Þ
While the discharging process is regarded as isothermal,i.e.,
= constant,
_
 P 
¼
RT V  
ð
_
m
in
À
_
m
out
Þ À
V  
_
V  
:
ð
5
Þ
Note that Eqs.(3) and (4)is just different from the spe-cific heat ratio term
. Thus according to both equations,the common process between charging and dischargingprocesses can be expressed as:
_
 P 
¼
RT V  
ð
a
in
_
m
in
À
a
out
_
m
out
Þ À
a
 P V  
_
V  
;
ð
6
Þ
Fig. 3. Schematic representation of the pneumatic cylinder-valve systemof the ZJUESA.
C. Ying et al. / Mechatronics 17 (2007) 325–335
327

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