PhD-Thesis Universität Bremen: Informatik/Mathematik 11/2019.
While serial robots are known for their versatility in applications, larger workspace, simpler modeling and control, they have certain disadvantages like limited precision, lower stiffness and poor dynamic characteristics in general. A parallel robot can offer higher stiffness, speed, accuracy and payload capacity, at the downside of a reduced workspace and a more complex geometry that needs careful analysis and control. To bring the best of the two worlds, parallel submechanism modules can be connected in series to achieve a series-parallel hybrid robot with better dynamic characteristics and larger workspace. Such a design philosophy is being used in several robots not only at DFKI (for e.g., Mantis, Charlie, Recupera Exoskeleton, RH5 humanoid etc.) but also around the world, for e.g. Lola (TUM), Valkyrie (NASA), THOR (Virginia Tech.) etc.These robots inherit the complexity of both serial and parallel architectures. Hence, solving their kinematics and dynamics is challenging because they are subjected to additional geometric loop closure constraints. Most approaches in multi-body dynamics adopt numerical resolution of these constraints for the sake of generality but may suffer from inaccuracy and performance issues. They also do not exploit the modularity in robot design. Further, closed loop systems can have variable mobility, different assembly modes and can impose redundant constraints on the equations of motion which deteriorates the quality of many multi-body dynamics solvers. Very often only a local view to the system behavior is possible. Hence, it is interesting for geometers or kinematics researchers, to study the analytical solutions to geometric problems associated with a specific type of parallel mechanism and their importance over numerical solutions is irrefutable. Techniques such as screw theory, computational algebraic geometry, elimination and continuation methods are popular in this domain. But this domain specific knowledge is often underrepresented in the design of model based kinematics and dynamics software frameworks. The contributions of this thesis are two-fold. Firstly, a rigorous and comprehensive kinematic analysis is performed for the novel parallel mechanisms invented recently at DFKI-RIC such as RH5 ankle mechanism and Active Ankle using approaches from computational algebraic geometry and screw theory. Secondly, the general idea of a modular software framework called Hybrid Robot Dynamics (HyRoDyn) is presented which can be used to solve the geometry, kinematics and dynamics of series-parallel hybrid robotic systems with the help of a software database which stores the analytical solutions for parallel submechanism modules in a configurable and unit testable manner. HyRoDyn approach is suitable for both high fidelity simulations and real-time control of complex series-parallel hybrid robots. The results from this thesis has been applied to two robotic systems namely Recupera-Reha exoskeleton and RH5 humanoid. The aim of this software tool is to assist both designers and control engineers in developing complex robotic systems of the future. Efficient kinematic and dynamic modeling can lead to more compliant behavior, better whole body control, walking and manipulating capabilities etc. which are highly desired in the present day and future robotic applications.