Safe high impedance control of a series-elastic actuator with a disturbance observer
In many series-elastic actuator applications, the ability to safely render a wide range of impedance is important. Advanced torque control techniques such as the disturbance observer (DOB) can improve torque tracking performance, but their impact on safe impedance range is not established. Here, safety is defined with load port passivity, and passivity conditions are developed for two variants of DOB torque control. These conditions are used to determine the maximum safe stiffness and Z-region of the DOB controllers, which are analyzed and compared with the no DOB case. A feedforward controller is proposed which increases the maximum safe stiffness of the DOB approaches. The results are experimentally validated by manual excitation and in a high-stiffness environment.