A robot manipulator that adapts its contact forces to the current environment
is a principal requirement for a reliable, safe and human-friendly robotic system that is able to work outside the fixed environment imposed in current industrial workcells. In recent years, impedance control has gained major attention as method to reliably control the robots contact interaction. The method basically aims at controlling the dynamical properties of the robot-environment interaction by creating a new virtual mechanical impedance for the manipulator. The robot is then able to interact with the environment as if mechanical springs, dampers or masses had been included in the real manipulator. This talk will discuss current results and future plans in this area as well as the latest approach used to identify the properties of the contacted environment in order to adapt the robots contact impedance to the current scenario. The results obtained after appyling the approach both in simulation and experimentally with an industrial robotic manipulator (Mitsubishi PA-10) will be presented.