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This work presents an example of the application of passive impedance control of a variable stiffness manipulator, which shows the actual benefits of variable stiffness in rejecting disturbances without resorting to the closure of a high level feedback loop. In the experiment a 4-DOF manipulator arm, built with the VSA-CubeBot platform, is controlled to hold a pen and draw a circle on an uneven surface. The control is designed calculating joint and stiffness trajectories with a Cartesian approach to the problem, thus designing the optimal workspace stiffness at first. Then, the joint stiffness yielding the closest workspace stiffness is searched for. Experimental results are reported, which agree with the theoretical outcomes, showing that the sub-optimal joints stiffness settings allow the arm to follow the circular trajectory on the uneven surface at best.
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