The paper presents a simple and effective kinematic model and methodology, based on Ting’s N-bar rotatability laws [2629], to assess the extent of the position uncertainty caused by joint clearances for any linkage and manipulators connected with revolute or prismatic pairs. The model is derived and explained with geometric rigor based on Ting’s rotatability laws. The significant contribution includes (1) the clearance link model for P-joint that catches the translation and oscillation characteristics of the slider within the clearance and separates the geometric effect of clearance from the input error, (2) a simple uncertainty linkage model that features a deterministic instantaneous structure mounted on non-deterministic flexible legs, (3) the generality of the method, which is effective for multiloop linkages and parallel manipulators.

The discussion is carried out through symmetrically constructed planar eight-bar parallel robots. It is found that the uncertainty region of a three-leg parallel robot is enclosed by a hexagon, while that of its serial counterpart is enclosed by a circle inscribed by the hexagon. A numerical example is also presented. The finding and proof, though only based on three-leg planar 8-bar parallel robots, may have a wider implication suggesting that based on kinematics, parallel robots tends to inherit more position uncertainty than their serial counterparts. The use of more loops in parallel robots cannot fully offset the adverse effect on position uncertainty caused by the use of more joints.

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