To assure a successful completion of an assigned task without interruption, such as the collision with fixtures, the hand of a mechanical manipulator often travels along a preplanned path. An advantage of requiring the path to be composed of straight-line segments in Cartesian coordinates is to provide a capability for controlled interaction with objects on a moving conveyor. This paper presents a method of obtaining a time schedule of velocities and accelerations along the path that the manipulator may adopt to obtain a minimum traveling time, under the constraints of composite Cartesian limit on linear and angular velocities and accelerations. Because of the involvement of a linear performance index and a large number of nonlinear inequality constraints, which are generated from physical limitations, the “method of approximate programming (MAP)” is applied. Depending on the initial choice of a feasible solution, the iterated feasible solution, however, does not converge to the optimum feasible point, but is often entrapped at some other point of the boundary of the constraint set. To overcome the obstacle, MAP is modified so that the feasible solution of each of the iterated linear programming problems is shifted to the boundaries corresponding to the original, linear inequality constraints. To reduce the computing time, a “direct approximate programming algorithm (DAPA)” is developed, implemented and shown to converge to optimum feasible solution for the path planning problem. Programs in FORTRAN language have been written for both the modified MAP and DAPA, and are illustrated by a numerical example for the purpose of comparison.

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