In this paper we propose a control strategy for a robot joint which fully mimics the typical human joint structure. The joint drive is based on two actuators (dc motors), agonist and antagonist, acting through compliant tendons and forming a nonlinear multi‐input multi‐output (MIMO) system. At any time, we consider one actuator, the puller, as being responsible for motion control, while the role of the other is to keep its tendon force at some appropriate low level. This human‐like and energetically efficient approach requires the control of “switching”, or exchanging roles between actuators. Moreover, an algorithm based on adaptive force reference is used to solve a problem of slacken tendons during the switching and to increase the energy efficiency. This approach was developed and evaluated on increasingly complex robot joint configurations, starting with linear and noncompliant system, and finishing with nonlinear and compliant system.

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