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This paper presents an optimization strategy for finding the trade-offs between cost, lifetime, and performance when designing the drive train, i.e., gearboxes and electric motors, for new robot concepts. The method is illustrated with an example in which the drive trains of two principal axes on a six-axis serial manipulator are designed. Drive train design for industrial robots is a complex task that requires a concurrent design approach. For instance, the mass properties of one motor affect the torque requirements for another, and the method needs to consider several drive trains simultaneously. Since the trajectory has a large impact on the load on the actuators when running a robot, the method also includes the trajectory generation itself in the design loop. It is shown how the design problem can be formalized as an optimization problem. A non-gradient-based optimization algorithm that can handle mixed variable problems is used to solve the highly nonlinear problem. The outcome from an industrial point of view is minimization of cost and the simulataneous balancing of the trade-off between lifetime and performance.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2009