Advances in parallel robotics for flexible and reconfigurable manufacturing

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Parallel robotic manipulators are a specific type of robot that has multiple limbs which are ultimately connected to a moving body. Within this regime, there are several sub-classes of robots characterized by certain inherent traits. Common to all sub-classes is the ability to articulate the moving platform by actuating each of the limbs. In general, it has been shown that these types of robotic manipulators possess several types of advantageous properties. Some of these properties are: good dynamic character, high stiffness, high precision, large payload to weight ratio, and high speed. Flexible and reconfigurable manufacturing regimes are new manufacturing system paradigms that aim at achieving cost-effective and rapid system changes. Essentially, a system classified as flexible or reconfigurable would be one that is adaptive to change in the market without the need to re-design or re-develop its components. The advantage of such a system is in theory very large. To date, there has been some enhancements made in the area, however there are still many open aims and possible improvements to be investigated. Much of which aims at furthering the concepts from theory to practical applications. The main objective of this dissertation is to enhance the knowledge base in flexible and reconfigurable systems through parallel robotics. Specifically, by utilizing new ideas in parallel robotics tailored to these manufacturing regimes, significant improvements in the knowledge base are attained. These can be classified under one specific regime of parallel robotics and further categorized as passive, semi-active, and active (adaptive). This thesis first focuses on a new design methodology related to flexible and reconfigurable manufacturing. Essentially, the method proposes a systematic approach to recon figure the dynamic properties of robotic devices for various functional requirements that would be part of a flexible manufacturing situation. The method is tested on an example structure and results indicate that the proposed reconfiguration method outperforms existing devices. Next, this dissertation focuses on the design of new robotic architectures that are more adaptive. Specifically, the goal is to achieve structures that can be adaptive in real-time. Existing structures are only reconfigurable passively and need to stop operation in order to reconfigure manually. To this end, a hybrid structure that is semi-active reconfigurable is first investigated. It is dubbed the ReSl-Bot. A complete engineering analysis and design is conducted illustrating its properties. To take this one step further, a novel class of hybrid adaptive parallel robots is then proposed. A 6-DOF robot belonging to this class called the HAPM mk.1 is studied in detail. It is effectively shown that this novel design has the ability to adapt properties actively. This type of adaption could be used for the performance enhancement in many applications, particularly for flexible manufacturing. Properties such as DOF, stiffness, dexterity, precision, kinetics, energy consumption, backlash, etc. could potentially be altered for varying applications and requirements. Notably, a complete theoretical analysis is conducted, ending with analytical dynamics and control.
Robotics, Parallel manipulators, Kinematics, Dynamics, Control