Hydraulic artificial muscles offer unrivaled specific power and power density and are instrumental to the improved performance and success of soft robotics and lightweight mobile applications. This paper addresses the lack of model-based impedance control approaches for soft actuators such as hydraulic artificial muscles. Impedance control of actuators and robotic systems has been proven to be an effective approach for interacting with physical objects in the presence of uncertainty. A sliding mode impedance control approach based on Filippov’s principle of equivalent dynamics is introduced and applied to a hydraulic artificial muscle. A nonlinear lumped parameter model of the system is presented and a sliding mode impedance controller is derived. Experimental results show superior performance using model-based sliding mode impedance control versus a linear impedance control law in both tracking of position and stiffness when disturbances are introduced.

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