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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Force control for robotic manipulators with structurally flexible links Latornell, Douglas John


This thesis reports on the development of strategies for the control of contact forces exerted by a structurally flexible robotic manipulator on surfaces in its working environment. The controller is based on a multivariable, explicitly adaptive, long range predictive control algorithm. A static equilibrium bias term which is particularly applicable to the contact force control problem has been incorporated into the control algorithm cost function. A general formulation for the discrete time domain characteristic polynomial of the closed loop system has been derived and shown useful in tuning the controller. Kinematic and dynamic models of a robotic manipulator with structurally flexible links interacting with its working environment are derived. These models include inertia and damping effects in the contact dynamics in addition to the contact stiffness employed in most previous work. Linear analyses of the dynamic models for a variety of manipulator configurations reveal that the controlled variable, the contact force, is dominated by different open ioop modes of the system depending on the effective stiffness of the contacting surfaces. This result has important implications for the selection of the controller parameters. The performance of the controller has been evaluated using computer simulation. A special purpose simulation program, TWOFLEX, which includes the dynamics models of the manipulator and the environment as well as the control algorithm was developed during the research. The configurations investigated using the simulation include a single flexible manipulator link, two link manipulators with both rigid and flexible links, and a two link prototype model of the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) manipulator for the proposed Space Station, Freedom. The results show that the controller can be tuned to provide fast contact force step responses with minimal overshoot and zero steady-state error. The problem of maintaining control through the discontinuous situation of unexpectedly making contact with a surface is addressed with the introduction of a contact control logic level in the control hierarchy.

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