In recent years, Japanese society has been aging, engendering a labor shortage of young workers. Robots are therefore expected to perform tasks such as rehabilitation, nursing elderly people, and day-to-day work support for elderly people. The pneumatic balloon actuator is a rubber artificial muscle developed for use in a robot hand in such environments. This actuator has a long stroke and a high power-to-weight ratio compared with the present pneumatic artificial muscle. Moreover, the dynamic characteristics of this actuator resemble those of human muscle. This study evaluated characteristics of force control of balloon actuator using a predictive functional control (PFC) system with disturbance observer. The predictive functional control is a model-based predictive control (MPC) scheme that predicts the future outputs of the actual plants over the prediction horizon and computes the control effort over the control horizon at every sampling instance. For this study, a 1-link finger system using a pneumatic balloon actuator is developed. Then experiments of PFC control with disturbance observer are performed. These experiments demonstrate the feasibility of its control of a pneumatic balloon actuator for a robot hand.
This paper addresses a control system design for a table drive system based on the disturbance observer (DOB)-based predictive functional critical control (PFCC). To empower the previously developed DOB-based PFC to handle constraints on controlled outputs, we propose to take a critical control approach. To this end, we derive the transfer function representation of the PFC controller and yield a detailed design procedure. The effectiveness of the proposed method is confirmed through an experimental evaluation.