In general, actuators are built to be as stiff as possible to increase the bandwidth. When a robot works in a structured environment, its automation is easier than in a non-structured environment in which case its modeling is quite difficult and presents a high computational effort. To overcome this difficulty, series elastic actuator (SEA) has been applied in compliant robotic grasping. Unlike rigid actuators, a SEA contains an elastic element in series with the mechanical energy source. Such an elastic element gives SEAs tolerance to impact loads, low mechanical output impedance, passive mechanical energy storage, and increased peak power output. The spring has to be able to support the loads, but it cannot be too stiff; otherwise, system impedance will be high. This chapter describes a comparison between two types of SEA, an electric series elastic actuator (ESEA) and a hydraulic series elastic actuator (HSEA), for four-legged dynamic robot application. The parameters employed in the comparison are bandwidth, output impedance, time response, power density, and dynamic range. The results indicate that HSEA is a better actuator than ESEA for a weight carrying four-legged dynamic robot because of its higher power density and dynamic ratio with desirable output impedance, time response, and bandwidth.
Part of the book: Recent Advances in Robotic Systems