M.S. Thesis Presentation by Andrew T. Riechel
Monday, April 5, 2004, 10:30 a.m.

(Dr. Imme Ebert-Uphoff, advisor)

"Force-Feasible Workspace Analysis and Motor Mount Disturbance Compensation for Point-Mass Cable Robots"


Cable-actuated manipulators (or “cable robots”) constitute a relatively new classification of robots which use motors, located at fixed remote locations, to manipulate an end-effector by extending or retracting cables. These manipulators possess a number of unique properties which make them proficient with tasks involving high payloads, large workspaces, and dangerous or contaminated environments. However, a number of challenges exist which have limited the mainstream emergence of cable robots. This thesis addresses two of the most important of these issues-- workspace analysis and disturbance compensation.

Workspace issues are particularly important, as many large-scale applications require the end-effector to operate in regions of a particular shape, and to exert certain minimum forces throughout those regions. The “Force-Feasible Workspace” represents the set of end-effector positions, for a given robot design, for which the robot can exert a set of required forces on its environment. This can be considered as the robot's “usable” workspace, and an analysis of this workspace shape for point-mass cable robots is therefore presented to facilitate optimal cable robot design. Numerical simulation results are also presented to validate the analytical results, and to aid visualization of certain complex workspace shapes.

Some cable robot applications may require mounting motors to moving bases (i.e. mobile robots) or other surfaces which are subject to disturbances (i.e. helicopters or crane arms). Such disturbances can propagate to the end-effector and cause undesired motion, so the rejection of motor mount disturbances is also of interest. This thesis presents a strategy for measuring these disturbances and compensating for them. General approaches and implementation issues are explored qualitatively with a simple one-degree-of-freedom prototype (including a strategy for mitigating accelerometer drift), and quantitative simulation results are presented as a proof of concept.