ABENICS: Active ball joint mechanism with three-DoF based on spherical gear meshings

Kazuki Abe, Kenjiro Tadakuma, Riichiro Tadakuma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents an active ball joint mechanism (ABENICS) enhanced by interactions of spherical gears. The gear-based joint drives three rotational degrees of freedom (RDoF) without slippage. The capabilities were inspired by the unique interactions between two different innovative gears [the cross spherical gear (CS-gear) and monopole gear (MP-gear)] and the superimposition of those interactions by the CS-gear's quadrature spherical tooth structure. One MP-gear constrains two of the three RDoF of the CS-gear. The driving module which drives the MP-gear converts this 'constraint' into a 'drive' and drives the CS-gear with two RDoF. The CS-gear orthogonally superimposes the interactions caused by two MP-gears to achieve three RDoF driving forces. The principle was revealed by analyzing an equivalent linkage modeled on the mechanism of ABENICS. The linkage also led to the kinematics and torque equations. The theory and physical characteristics of ABENICS were verified in comprehensive and continuous positioning experiments on manufactured prototypes. The flexibility of the actuator placement was also verified in different configurations of the driving modules. The active ball joint, ABENICS can transmit high torque and reliable positioning in three RDoF without an orientation sensor, which applies to robot joints and orientation control mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1806-1825
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 1


  • Development and prototyping
  • Industrial robots
  • Mechanism design
  • Spherical gear


Dive into the research topics of 'ABENICS: Active ball joint mechanism with three-DoF based on spherical gear meshings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this