Robust Joint and Cartesian Control of Underactuated Manipulators

[+] Author and Article Information
Marcel Bergerman

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Yangsheng Xu

The Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

J. Dyn. Sys., Meas., Control 118(3), 557-565 (Sep 01, 1996) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2801180 History: Received October 14, 1994; Online December 03, 2007


Underactuated manipulators are robot manipulators composed of both active and passive joints in serial chain mechanisms. The study of underactuation is significant for the control of a variety of rigid-body systems, such as free-floating robots in space and gymnasts, whose structure include passive joints. For mechanisms with large degrees of freedom, such as hyper-redundant snake-like robots and multi-legged machines, the underactuated structure allows a more compact design, weight decrease, and energy saving. Furthermore, when one or more joints of a standard manipulator fail, it becomes an underactuated mechanism; a control technique for such system will increase the reliability and fault-tolerance of current and future robots. The goal of this study is to present a robust control method for the control of underactuated manipulators subject to modeling errors and disturbances. Because an accurate modelling of the underactuated system is more critical for control issues than it is for standard manipulators, this method is significant in practice. Variable structure controllers are proposed in both joint space and Cartesian space, and a comprehensive simulation study is presented to address issues such as computation, robustness, and feasibility of the methods. Experimental results demonstrate the actual applicability of the proposed methods in a real two-degrees-of-freedom underactuated manipulator. As it will be shown, the proposed variable structure controller provides robustness againstboth disturbances and parametric uncertainties, a characteristic not present on previously proposed PID-based schemes.

Copyright © 1996 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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