Explorations in Low-Cost Compliant Robotics
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This thesis presents the findings of exploratory research in low-cost compliant robotics. The most heavily leveraged trade-off is that of mechanical precision for computational power, with the hope that the price of future computation will continue to fall exponentially while the expected price of precision mechanical parts will remain relatively constant. The most novel contribution of this research is the Torsionally Compliant Elastomer Joint (TCEJ) which allows for compliance and sensing in a very small package while using extremely inexpensive components. Computational modeling of hysteresis, signal compression, and backlash are also explored to compensate for the non-idealities often found in cheap mechanical parts. Three proof-of-concept systems are described along with a set of experiments used to test their capabilities. Finally, future work is proposed that will likely shape the next generation of low-cost compliant robotics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory