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IROS14 WS on Actuators

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From Active Impedance to Intrinsically Compliant and Variable Impedance Actuators: Pros, Cons and Trade-offs


Nikos Tsagarakis
Department of Advanced Robotics at the Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia
nikos.tsagarakis (at)

Luis Sentis
Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin
lsentis (at)

Bram Vanderborght
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Bram.vanderborght (at)


This IROS 2014 workshop has two goals. The first goal is to bring together researchers working on the development and control of actuation systems and to present a complete overview of their recent activities.
In particular we welcome contributions that demonstrate the performance of new robotic machines based on actuation principles, implementations and control techniques which span from mature active impedance drives to hybrid active and intrinsic compliant units and intrinsically variable impedance principles. The second goal is to foster collaboration among researchers that are working on different actuation principles to advance the state of the art in robotics actuation. In addition, the workshop will serve as a venue to start the preparation of a special issue for a prestigious journal. To conclude, with this workshop we aim at:
- Demonstrating the recent developments in robotic actuation, giving the opportunity of presenting and discussing recent results in this hot research area for robotics. - Advancing the state of the art in robotics actuation by fostering collaboration among researchers working on different areas of robotics actuation as e.g. actuation design, torque control joints and active impedance regulation, intrinsically elastic joints and variable impedance actuators. We envision organizing a full day workshop which will consist of a mixture of presentations divided into several topics including design of actuation systems, control of actuators and applications. The scientific and technological topics of the workshop can be summarized as follows:

1. Torque controlled joints and torque sensing technique

2. Active and passive impedance regulation

3. Novel series elastic actuator topologies

4. Parallel elastic actuation springs

5. Switchable springs and variable recruitment actuation

6. High power density joints with active cooling

7. Efficient control of hydraulic actuation

8. Efficient compliant actuation principles

9. Variable stiffness and damping joints

10. Dual actuation systems

11. Variable transmission systems

12. Electrical motor technology advancements

13. Direct drive actuation



  • Antonio Bicchi (University of Pisa, IT)
    -Natural Motion Initiative: Crowdsourcing the Exploration of Variable Stiffness Actuation Applications
  • Masayuki Inaba (Uni. of Tokyo, JP)
    -Actuation Systems of JSK humanoids
  • Alin Albu Scaffer (DLR, Germany)
    -Passive impedance design and control concepts for manipulation and locomotion
  • Sangbae Kim (MIT, US)
    -'Less is more: high force proprioceptive actuator'
  • Stefano Stramigioli (Uni. Of Twente, NL)
    -A Novel Variable Stiffness actuator with absolute zero stiffness capability
  • Jonas Buchli (ETH Zurich, CH)
    High performance Active Impedance through -Model based and learning control
  • Jonathan Hurst (Uni. of Oregon, US)
    -Holistic design: We don't need stronger actuators, we need smarter passive dynamics
  • Luis Sentis (Uni. Of Texas, US)
    -Design and Control Considerations for High Performance Series Elastic Actuators
  • Bram Vanderborght (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, BE)
    -Novel concepts for series-parallel elastic actuation
  • Nikos Tsagarakis (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, IT)
    -Compliant Actuation Arrangements for Efficient Mobility
  • Qbrobotics, IT (
    -Live demonstration of Variable Impedance Actuators



We want to focus on high quality presentations and interactions, therefore we do not request to submit a full length paper. If you are interested to actively participate please send us (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) a one page abstract in IEEE format. To stimulate interaction we will foresee and allocate adequate time for questions and moderated discussion between the different talks targeting to make the workshop as interactive as possible. This is a central aim of the workshop and we hope to initiate a lively and fruitful idea exchange on potentially polarizing issues. We encourage to send This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in advance your questions.



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