Robots are ever more present in human environments, and effective physical human-robot interactions are essential to many applications. But to a person, these interactions rarely feel biological or equivalent to a human-human interactions. It is our goal to make robots feel more human-like, in the hopes of allowing more natural human-robot interactions. In this paper, we examine a novel biologically-inspired control method, emulating antagonistic muscle pairs based on a nonlinear Hill model. The controller captures the muscle properties and dynamics and is driven solely by muscle activation levels. A human-robot experiment compares this approach to PD and PID controllers with equivalent impedances as well as to direct human-human interactions. The results show the promise of driving motors like muscles and allowing users to experience robots much like humans.
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