COMS576 Motion Strategy:Algorithms and Applications

Final Project Report
Spring 2000

Yeow-Seng Kua

        Imagine that you are working on a a piece of wasteland, approximately 48,740,000 miles away from home. Perhaps even with the luxury of not wearing a space suit under the extreme martian atmosphere. Attached to your arms are two sets of mechanical linkages. Now, imagine that when commanded, a robot arm will magically pick and place a martian rock sample into a metal container.
        While hoping that one day you can find the evidence of life on Mars, you suddenly hear a soft whisper beside your ears, asking you to be home on time. You then remembered, today's your daughter's birthday! You step out from your workstation and walk towards the exit, onto the parking lot, into your Z3, and drove off to the nearest mall to get a gift.

Project Description
        The scene described above is the power of teleoperated robotic system. This system let you control a robot directly but also remotely from any workspace. My project however, will not be as fancy as described above but is similar. The purpose of my project is to design a telerobotic system that will allow the user to perform simple task such as picking and placing, or doing simple task like manipulating a work piece while the workspace is in motion.

        The environment where this robot work is a 100inches wide by 100inches long plane. This plane will be filled with a number of rectangular obstacles. Each of these obstacles will have different sizes but must always be shaped as a box. This is due to the way i wrote my collision detection algorithm. The entire work space will be rotating at a certain speed to simulate a moving workspace, however, the obstacle it self is stationary. This environment also assumes that there will be no unpredicted obstacle comming into the workspace while the robot is operating.

        The robot that i use have 4 degree of freedom. One rotational movement and 3 translational movement. In order to know how the end effector will be when the links are changing we need to formulate the forward kinematics for this robot. This is done by using the Denavit-Hartenberg homogeneus transformation matrics.

        Denavit-Hartenberg Homogeneous Transformation Matrics
        Joint i    alpha i        a i        d i        theta i
            1            0             a1        d1        theta1
            2            PI            a2        0            -90
            3            0              0         d3          0
            4            0              0         d4          0

        0A1 = cos(theta1)    -sin(theta1)    0    a1*cos(theta1)
                   sin(theta1)      cos(theta1)    0    a1*sin(theta1)
                        0                       0             1            d1
                        0                       0             0            1

        1A2=   0   -1   0    0
                   -1   0    0  -a2
                    0    0  -1    0
                    0    0    0    1

       2A3=    1    0    0    0
                    0    1    0    0
                    0    0    1   d3
                    0    0    0    1

      3A4=     1    0    0    0
                    0    1    0    0
                    0    0    1   d4
                   0    0    0    1

       0A4=    sin(theta1)    -cos(theta1)        0        a2*sin(theta1)+a1*cos(theta1)
                  -cos(theta1)  -sin(theta1)         0        -a2*cos(theta1)+a1*sin(theta1)
                            0                    0              -1        d3+d4+d1
                            0                    0                0        1

        After getting the Denavit-Hartenberg homogeneus transformation matrics, we can get the loop-closure equation by equating:

        ux    vx    wx    qx    =     sin(theta1)    -cos(theta1)        0        a2*sin(theta1)+a1*cos(theta1)
        uy    vy    wy    qy          -cos(theta1)   -sin(theta1)        0        -a2*cos(theta1)+a1*sin(theta1)
        uz    vz    wz     qz                     0                    0              -1        d3+d4+d1
        0       0      0        1                     0                    0                0        1

    Forward kinematics

        The suggested solution to solve this problem involved 2 steps. Step 1 is to find a way to let the user see the shape, position, and orientation of the workpiece while the workspace is rotating, and step 2 is to perform the task on the workpiece.
        To solve the first problem, the robot will be position at the center of rotation of the workpiece. A observation device such as encoder or stereo vision system will be put to use to determine the rotational speed of the workspace relative to the robot. As the robot begin to rotate to match the rotational speed of the workspace, the relative angular velocity will become smaller and eventually goto zero; assuming that a good controller can do that. Even though, in the real world the relative angular velocity of the robot and the workspace will never match exactly, this system should be still working. The main idea behind here is the same as to a differential drive or differential controller. Instead of using the ground (stationary platform) to measure the velocity and distance travelled, we reference the rotating platform. For example,  the workspace is rotating at 2 revolution/second (counter clockwise), in order to move ahead of the workspace, the manipulator have to rotate at 2.1 revolution/second (counter clockwise) and inorder to move backward, the robot have to rotate at 1.9 revolution/second(counter clockwise). The difference between the angular speed will cause the distance to increase or decrease over time.
        Another important point i want to mention is that the user will be controlling the manipulator by looking at the stalled picture on a computer generated graphics.
After obtaining the position of the obstacles and workpiece, the motion strategy method can be implimented to show the user one or several of the suggested path that he or she can take to reach the goal point from the given initial point. The task of moving the workpiece from the initial point to the goal point looks easy from the human brain stand point but if the obstacles are really complicated and if we are in a low error tolerance environment a suggested path should be helpful and might also improve the speed of path selection of the user.

Path Planning
        The path planning method that i currently use is a simple Rapidly-Exploring Random Tree (RRT). Basically, all the vertices of the obstacles, work piece, and the workspace are given, and the user can input the initial point and the goal point of the workpiece.
        The summary of this tree are as follow:
                    1. Get the initial and goal point.
                    2. Generate a set of random numbers for theta1, a1, a2, and d4.
                    3. Calculate the location of the end effector (qx, qy, qz) using the forward kinematics.
                    4. Calculate the distance of (qx, qy, qz) relative to all nodes except the goal node.
                    5. Select the shortest distance and that will be the current node (cx, cy, cz).
                    6. Calculate the distance of (qx, qy, qz) to (cx, cy, cz) and deduce a new current node
                        (cx, cy, cz , calpha, cbeta, cgamma) using a metric.
                    7. Let the current node (cx, cy, cz) be the temperary node (tx, ty, tz).
                    8. Check for collision of this temperaty node.
                    9. If there are collision abandon the remaining process and start again, if not then the
                        temperary node (tx, ty, tz) will become the new node (nx, ny, nz).
                    10. Calculate the distance of all nodes to the goal and if it reach then program terminate. If not
                          continue the loop but skip step 1.

Collision Detection
        The collision detection algorithm that I wrote is a simple 3D bounding box algorithm. I first need to calculate the plane equation for the workspace and the obstacles (ax+by+cz+d=0), where:


By combining all the 6 plane for each obstacles including the workspace I can get the volume region of the workspace. Then by using a point as the end effector. I can create a projection (a line) from that point to each plane on the workspace and the obstacles, where the line intersect at:

                    ti= -(axp+byp+czp+d)/a2+b2+c2

the distance of this line to each plane can be calculated using:


then by using logical predicate I can create a imaginary bounding box around the point to check for the collision detection. For example:

        pass[i]=0 i=1 to n

        for(int a=0; a<i; a++){
                for(int b=0; b<j; b++){

        total_pass=sum of (pass[i]) from i=0 to n;

         } else Collision=1;

        Rx, Ry, Rz are the length of rectangle for x, y, z axis
        i=number of obstacle
        j=number of plane
        n=obstacle number

           Animation 1
           Animation 2
           Animation 3

Additional Information & Future Work
            In the near future I plan to use a better collision detection algorithm so that irregular objects can be use as part of the obstacles. Additional work such as improving the speed of the program, and implimenting other path planning method will also provide the user to have more choices in choosing a better path palnning method for different environment.

Source Code


         Collision Detection Between Geometric Models: a survey.
                Ming C. Lin, Stefan Gottschalk.

           ComS 576 Homepage:

            Introduction to Robotics Mechanics and Control 2nd ed.
                John J. Craig. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1989.

            Obstacle Avoidance in Multi-Robot Systems.
                Mark Gill, Albert Zomaya. World Scientific, 1999.

            Rapidly-Exploring Random Trees: Progress and Prospects.
                Steven M. LaValle, James J. Kuffner Jr.

            Remote Control Robotics.
                Craig Sayers. Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1999.

            Robot Analysis The Mechanics of Serial and Parallel Manipulators.
                Lung-Wen Tsai. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1999.