The quality of parts produced by a composite tape-laying process is sensitive to the contact force exerted and the abutment of adjacent tape courses kept when the tapes are laid. Thus, a prerequisite for a high performance laying process automated by means of industrial manipulators is the ability to regulate laying force and position precisely in the presence of robot motion inaccuracies and laying contour variations. An on-line adaptive force/position controller for robot-automated laying processes was presented. The contact force error normal to a laying surface is measured by a wrist sensor in real time, while the position error tangent to the surface is measured by sensors found in manipulator joints. Both are modeled as autoregressive (AR) processes, on the basis of which future errors in Cartesian coordinates are forecasted. Via a compliance selection matrix, both predicted errors are fed to joint actuators in a similar manner for taking compensatory actions. In view of the similarity, the force control portion of the scheme was implemented in an experiment using a three degree-of-freedom manipulator and the results indicated a 40 percent average reduction in contact force variations.

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