Human-intent detection and physically interactive control of a robot without force sensors

Mustafa Suphi Erden*, Tetsuo Tomiyama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, a physically interactive control scheme is developed for a manipulator robot arm. The human touches the robot and applies force in order to make it behave as he/she likes. The communication between the robot and the human is maintained by a physical contact with no sensors. The intent of the human is estimated by observing the change in control effort. The robot receives the estimated human intent and updates its position reference accordingly. The developed method uses the principle of conservation of zero momentum for position-controlled systems. A switching scheme is developed that goes between the modes of pure impedance control with a fixed-position reference and interactive control under human intent. The switching mechanism uses neither a physical switch nor a sensor; it observes the human intent and puts the robot into interactive mode, if there is any. When the human intent disappears, the robot goes into the pure-impedance-control mode, thus stabilizing in the left position.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-382
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Human-robot interaction
  • impedance control
  • intention detection
  • interactive control


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