The operation of high precision robots is severely limited by. their manipulator dynamic deflection, which persists for a period of time after a move is completed. These unwanted vibrations deteriorate the end effector positional accuracy and reduce significantly the robot arm production rate. A “rigid and flexible motion controller” is derived to introduce additional damping into the flexible motion. This is done by using additional sensors to measure the compliant link vibrations and feed them back to the controller. The existing actuators at the robot joints are used (i.e., no additional actuators are introduced). The performance of the controller is tested on a dynamic model, developed in previous work, for a spherical coordinate robot arm whose last link only is considered to be flexible. The simulation results show a significant reduction in the vibratory motion. The important issue of control and observation spillover is examined and found to present no significant practical problems. Partial evaluation of this approach is performed experimentally by testing two controllers, a “rigid body controller” and a “rigid and flexible motion controller,” on a single joint of a spherical coordinate, laboratory robot arm. The experimental results show a significant reduction in the end effector dynamic deflection; thus partially validating the results of the digital simulation studies.

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