King's College and Tecnalia conducted the first benchmarking experiments of the Stiff-Flop concept, to analyze the behavior of the system when interacting with its environment. As illustrated on the figure, the system tested was composed of a arm composed of two flexible structures, mounted onto a vertical support. By controlling the pressures in the chambers of the module(s), the arm gets into contact with an obstacle, and the magnitude of the contact forces is measured. Experiments were performed by augmenting the pressure in one (bending) or all chambers (elongation) of the module.
Similar experiments were performed controlling the pressure in both modules at the same time. We also conducted experiments using a real organ (veal kidney). Considering that the arm is still at an early integration phase, the measurements obtained are likely to be easily overcome once the system gets fully equipped, in particular with a position controller and with its stiffness mechanism. In a close future, the same platform could also be used to compare the interaction forces measured by the arm sensor with the reading from the benchmarking platform.
Such kind of experiments will definitely permit to measure the good integration of the arm components.