An extension of compliant actuator research is to add additional hardware to make the compliance adjustable. This means that the controller can select from a very soft to a very hard compliance. This gives the robot the advantage of setting the stiffness to very hard for accurate position tracking or very soft for dealing with impact or safety. Some examples of these humanoid robots are MACCEPA ( Vanderborght et al., 2009), Blue ( Enoch et al., 2012a), and MABEL ( Grizzle et al., 2009). The problem with adjustable compliances is that the mechanical complexity still needs to be solved. Furthermore, two coupled motors, which are used to control the joint position and the stiffness of a single joint, add extra weight, space, and costs. This means that the humanoid robot will require at least twice as many motors and controllers than normal. Currently no full-sized adjustable compliant humanoid robot has been realized with similar capability than the more classical approach. As the extra cost of the motors and mechanical structures goes against our primary goal of a low-cost humanoid robot we discounted variable compliance actuation in our design.
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