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Precision Control of Modular Robot Manipulators: The VDC Approach With Embedded FPGA

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6 Author(s)
Wen-Hong Zhu ; Space Exploration, Canadian Space Agency, Saint-Hubert, Canada ; Tom Lamarche ; Erick Dupuis ; David Jameux
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A systematic solution to precision control of modular robot manipulators without using joint torque sensing is presented in this paper for the first time. Using the virtual decomposition control (VDC) approach with embedded field programmable gate array (FPGA) logic devices, the proposed solution solves a long-standing problem of lacking control precision fundamentally associated with the modular robot manipulators. As a result, this solution allows modular robot manipulators to possess not only their traditional advantages (such as reconfigurability, flexibility, versatility, and ease of use) but precision control capability as well. A hierarchical master-slave control structure is used, which is supported by a high-speed communication system modified from SpaceWire (IEEE 1355), transferring a limited amount of data between the master and slave nodes at a rate of 1000 Hz. In each module, the FPGA logic implementation uses multiple sampling periods of 163.8 μs, 1.28 μs, and 20 ns. A gravity counterbalance spring provides a design option for the purpose of energy saving. Experimental results demonstrate unprecedented control precision, which is attributed to the use of both the VDC approach and embedded FPGA implementation. The ratio of the maximum position tracking error to the maximum velocity reaches 0.00012 s-more than an order of magnitude better than available technologies in control of robots with harmonic drives. The solution presented in this paper is also applicable to integrated robot manipulators using embedded FPGA controllers.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Robotics  (Volume:29 ,  Issue: 5 )