Design and Modeling of a Smart Torque-Adjustable Rotary Electroadhesive Clutch for Application in Human-Robot Interaction

Navid Feizi, S. Farokh Atashzar, Mehrdad R. Kermani, Rajni V. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increasing need for sharing workspace and interactive physical tasks between robots and humans has raised concerns regarding the safety of such operations. In this regard, controllable clutches have shown great potential for addressing important safety concerns at the hardware level by separating the high-impedance actuator from the end-effector by providing the power transfer from electromagnetic source to the human. However, the existing clutches suffer from high power consumption and large weight, which make them undesirable from the design point of view. In this article, for the first time, the design and development of a novel, lightweight, and low-power torque-adjustable rotary clutch using electroadhesive materials are presented. The performance of three different pairs of clutch plates is investigated in the context of the smoothness and quality of output torque. The performance degradation issue due to the polarization of the insulator is addressed through the utilization of an alternating current waveform activation signal. Moreover, the effect of the activation frequency on the output torque and power consumption of the clutch is investigated. Finally, a time-dependent model for the output torque of the clutch is presented, and the performance of the clutch was evaluated through experiments, including physical human-robot interaction. The proposed clutch offers a torque-to-power consumption ratio that is six times better than commercial magnetic particle clutches. The proposed clutch presents great potential for developing safe, lightweight, and low-power physical human-robot interaction systems, such as exoskeletons and robotic walkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3259926
Pages (from-to)2738-2748
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023


  • Adjustable clutch
  • electroadhesion (EA)
  • rotary clutch
  • smart actuators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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