In this study, we developed new worm wheel mechanisms with passive rollers as their teeth and confirmed useful functions of these worm wheels with passive rollers to transmit power from worm gears with higher energy efficiency than ordinary worm wheels. By using passive rollers as their teeth, the developed worm wheels could realize high-power transmission efficiency with rolling frictional resistance instead of sliding frictional resistance. A worm wheel with conical passive rollers and one with disk-shaped passive rollers was fabricated as prototypes and examined in experiments. Smooth back-drivability of the worm wheels with passive rollers, which is difficult to realize with conventional worm wheels, was also demonstrated in the experiments. These serial experiments revealed that the developed worm wheel mechanism with passive rollers can replace conventional worm wheels with the same number of teeth and module in ordinary power transmission mechanisms with worm gearing and realize higher energy efficiency and smooth back-drivability. These features can be very useful to realize safe and soft actuators for automation systems in a human environment.
- power transmission efficiency
- worm wheel