This paper introduces a new computational approach for the articulated joint/deformation actuation and motion control of robot manipulators with flexible components. Oscillations due to small deformations of relatively stiff robot components which cannot be ignored, are modeled in this study using the finite element (FE) floating frame of reference (FFR) formulation which employs two coupled sets of coordinates: the reference and elastic coordinates. The inverse dynamics, based on the FFR formulation, leads to driving forces associated with the deformation degrees of freedom. Because of the link flexibility, two approaches can be considered to determine the actuation forces required to achieve the desired motion trajectories. These two approaches are the partially constrained inverse dynamics (PCID) and the fully constrained inverse dynamics (FCID). The FCID approach, which will be considered in future investigations and allows for motion and shape control, can be used to achieve the desired motion trajectories and suppress undesirable oscillations. The new small-deformation PCID approach introduced in this study, on the other hand, allows for achieving the desired motion trajectories, determining systematically the actuation forces and moments associated with the robot joint and elastic degrees of freedom, and avoiding deteriorations in the vibration characteristics as measured by the differences between the inverse- and forward-dynamics solutions. A procedure for determining the actuation forces associated with the deformation degrees of freedom is proposed and is exemplified using piezoelectric actuators. The PCID solution is used to define a new set of algebraic equations that can be solved for the piezoelectric actuation voltages required to maintain the forward-dynamics oscillations within their inverse-dynamics limits. A planar two-link flexible-robot manipulator is presented to demonstrate the implementation of the joint/deformation actuation approach. The results obtained show deterioration in the robot precision if the deformation actuation is not considered.
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics Open Issues