Altay Zhakatayev Successfully Defended PhD Thesis

Altay Zhakatayev successfully defended his PhD thesis on 18 October 2019. The title of the thesis is "Optimal Design and Control of Variable Impedance Actuated Robots". The main advantages of variable impedance actuated (VIA) robots compared to traditional position-controlled robots include safety, energy efficiency and adaptability. However, due to the presence of additional elements (such as actuators, nonlinear elastic and/or damping elements, sensors), VIA robots have a more complex structure and as a result, it is more difficult to design and control them. Additionally, control problem gets complicated due to nonlinear dynamics and system constraints. In this thesis, a new control paradigm for variable impedance actuated robots was devised. This control methodology is based on optimal control methods applied for systems with constraints. As a result, the control method ensures optimal behavior of the system, satisfies system constraints, takes into account system dynamics, and enables utilization of the system to its full potential. The control of VIA robots was tested in simulations and real-world experiments of variable stiffness actuated robots.
The work resulted in a slate of strong publications in top conferences and journals. The defense was attended by the Nazarbayev University Provost Ilesanmi Adesida, faculty members, students and members of the research community.