This paper is concerned with the digital implementation and experimental evaluation of two adaptive controllers for robotic manipulators. The first is a continuous time model reference adaptive controller, and the second is a discrete time adaptive controller. The primary purpose of these adaptive controllers is to compensate for inertial variations due to changes in configuration and payload, as well as disturbances, such as Coulomb friction and/or gravitational forces. Experimental results are obtained from a laboratory test stand, which emulates an one-axis direct drive robot arm with variable inertia, as well as a Toshiba TSR-500V industrial robot. Experimental results from the test stand indicate that these adaptive control schemes are promising for the control of direct drive robot arms. Friction forces arising from the harmonic gear of the Toshiba robot were detrimental if not properly compensated. Because of a high gearing ratio, the advantage of adaptive control for the Toshiba arm could be shown only by detuning the controller.

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