Cable conduit actuation provides a simple yet dexterous mode of power transmission for remote actuation. However, they are not preferred because of the nonlinearities arising from friction and cable compliance which lead to backlash type of behavior. Unlike most of the current research in backlash control which generally assumes no knowledge of one of the intermediate states, the controller design in this case can be significantly simplified if output feedback of the system is available. This paper uses a simple feedforward control law for backlash compensation. A novel smooth backlash inverse is proposed, which takes the physical limitations of the actuator in consideration, unlike other designs, and thus makes it more intuitive to use. Implementation of this inverse on physical systems can also improve the system performance over the theoretical exact inverse, as well as other existing smooth inverse designs. Improvement in the performance is shown through experiments on a robot arm of Laprotek surgical system as well as on an experimental setup using polymeric cables for actuation.
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