Low Mobility Cable Robot with Application to Robotic Warehousing
Torres Mendez, Sergio Javier
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Cable-based robots consist of a rigid mobile platform connected via flexible links (cables, wires, tendons) to a surrounding static platform. The use of cables simplifies the mechanical structure and reduces the inertia, allowing the mobile platform to reach high motion acceleration in large workspaces. These attributes give, in principle, an advantage over conventional robots used for industrial applications, such as the pick and place of objects inside factories or similar exterior large workspaces. However, unique cable properties involve new theoretical and technical challenges: all cables must be in tension to avoid collapse of the mobile platform. In addition, positive tensions applied to cables may affect the overall stiffness, that is, cable stretch might result in unacceptable oscillations of the mobile platform. Fully constrained cable-based robots can be distinguished from other types of cable-based robots because the motion and force generation of the mobile platform is accomplished by controlling both the cable lengths and the positive cable tensions. Fully constrained cable-based robots depend on actuator redundancy, that is, the addition of one or more actuated cables than end-effector degrees of freedom. Redundancy has proved to be beneficial to expand the workspace, remove some types of singularities, increase the overall stiffness, and support high payloads in several proposed cable-based robot designs. Nevertheless, this strategy demands the development of efficient controller designs for real-time applications. This research deals with the design and control of a fully constrained cable-based parallel manipulator for large-scale high-speed warehousing applications. To accomplish the design of the robot, a well-ordered procedure to analyze the cable tensions, stiffness and workspace will be presented to obtain an optimum structure. Then, the control problem will be investigated to deal with the redundancy solution and all-positive cable tension condition. The proposed control method will be evaluated through simulation and experimentation in a prototype manufactured for testing.