In Robotics Control area we are interested in the development of neuromuscular-like controller (NMC) technology, applications of NMC to to rehabilitation robots and to suspension and vibration control for vehicles and aircraft.

An invention disclosure of the new NMC technology has been filed with Northwestern University in 1997.
A patent was granted. US Patent No. 6,243,624 B1, June 2001.

The following is a brief descriptions of our new technology and and five demonstrations that can be provided upon request. (If interested, please see a video demonstration. Visit us at the ECE Robotics Lab. If we are running the robot, you may see us too.

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The neuromuscular-like compliant control was modeled from studying the movement of primate's muscle-reflex mechanisms. The developed model consists of two major mechanisms: spindle-reflex model and muscle stiffness mechanism. The spindle-reflex model emulates the nonlinear reflex property of biological spindle-reflex mechanism for complying to movements and forces. The muscle-stiffness mechanism emulates muscle stiffness for tracking various movements.

Any actuator-driven system controlled by this controller will be able to comply to any impacting force from the environment, and in the meantime the system will also respond to the position command. In comparison with the existing technologies, the proposed compliant controller will respond to any changing displacement and provide the compliant force for the changing motion without using ANY force sensor. In addition, the controlled system can adapt to a wide range of loads without adjusting the controller's gains and maintain its stability.

We can demonstrate the following experiments using a PUMA560 robot and a quarter-car model:

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