Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Dr. Rajni V. Patel

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Mehrdad R. Kermani

Joint Supervisor


This thesis reports on the design, construction, and evaluation of a prototype two degrees-of-freedom (DOF) haptic interface, which takes advantage of Magneto-Rheological Fluid (MRF) based clutches for actuation. Haptic information provides important cues in teleoperated systems and enables the user to feel the interaction with a remote or virtual environment during teleoperation. The two main objectives in designing a haptic interface are stability and transparency. Indeed, deficiencies in these factors in haptics-enabled telerobotic systems has the introduction of haptics in medical environments where safety and reliability are prime considerations. An actuator with poor dynamics, high inertia, large size, and heavy weight can significantly undermine the stability and transparency of a teleoperated system. In this work, the potential benefits of MRF-based actuators to the field of haptics in medical applications are studied. Devices developed with such fluids are known to possess superior mechanical characteristics over conventional servo systems. These characteristics significantly contribute to improved stability and transparency of haptic devices. This idea is evaluated and verified through both theoretical and experimental points of view. The design of a small-scale MRF-based clutch, suitable for a multi-DOF haptic interface, is discussed and its performance is compared with conventional servo systems. This design is developed into four prototype clutches. In addition, a closed-loop torque control strategy is presented. The feedback signal used in this control scheme comes from the magnetic field acquired from embedded Hall sensors in the clutch. The controller uses this feedback signal to compensate for the nonlinear behavior using an estimated model, based on Artificial Neural Networks. Such a control strategy eliminates the need for torque sensors for providing feedback signals. The performance of the developed design and the effectiveness of the proposed modeling and control techniques are experimentally validated. Next, a 2-DOF haptic interface based on a distributed antagonistic configuration of MRF-based clutches is constructed for a class of medical applications. This device is incorporated in a master-slave teleoperation setup that is used for applications involving needle insertion and soft-tissue palpation. Phantom and in vitro animal tissue were used to assess the performance of the haptic interface. The results show a great potential of MRF-based actuators for integration in haptic devices for medical interventions that require reliable, safe, accurate, highly transparent, and stable force reflection.