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Introduction to Robotics

Lecture 2

Modeling the Human Arm

A human arm is considered to have seven DOFs
A shoulder gives pitch, yaw and roll

An elbow allows for pitch

A wrist allows for pitch, yaw and roll

Modeling the Human Arm

Manipulator resembles the human arm in appearance,
structure and in many of its function
The human arm consists of two major parts:
- The wrist with three minor joints
- The arms two major joints, i.e. shoulder and the elbow
Function of human wrist is to provide orientation of the
object held by the hand

Modeling the Human Arm

The human wrist basic performance specification may be
defined as follows:
Hold your right arm and hand straight out
Keep the palm in downward direction; this is the reference
angular position (0o)
Then rotate your wrist as far as you can in both a clockwise
and anti-clockwise direction

This is the roll motion and its possible limits are at -180o and
+90o respectively
-180o Roll +90o

Modeling the Human Arm

Hold right arm in the reference angular position
Without rolling hand , move the wrist from initial straight
position as far as possible in a downward and then in an
upward direction

This is the pitch motion and its limit positions are at -90o and
-90o Pitch +50o

Modeling the Human Arm

Hold right arm in the reference angular position
While, wrist making neither a roll nor a pitch motion, let the
fingers point horizontally as far as possible to the right and
then to the left

This is the yaw motion and its limit positions are at -45o and
+ 15o
-45o Yaw +15o

Modeling the Human Arm

To provide roll motion to hand, forearm and upper arm, both
undergo a twist, while pitch and yaw are provided by the
wrist joint
Roll, pitch and yaw are independent motions and therefore
referred to as degrees of freedom
The second part of the human arm consists of upper arm
and forearm with shoulder and elbow joints
Human arm has 3-DOF in the shoulder with a ball and socket
joint, 1-DOF in the elbow between forearm and upper arm

Modeling the Human Arm

The human hand at the end of arm, has four fingers and a
thumb, each with 4-DOF
The finger and thumb joints can act independently or get
locked, depending on task, offering a very high dexterity to
zero dexterity
Multi-fingered hands are the subject of research in robotics
and several industrial robotic hands have been developed

Robotic legs for walking machines can also be modeled with

rotational joints in a very similar manner as arms

Modeling the Human Arm

Robot Manipulators
Workspace represents that portion of the environment the
manipulators end-effector can access
Its shape and volume depend on the manipulator structure
as well as on the presence of mechanical joint limits
The task required of the arm is to position the wrist which
then is required to orient the end-effector

Example end-effector: Grippers

The Barrett Hand

Robot Arm Structures

Figures on next slides show some common robot arm
Robotic arms are meant to perform work similarly to the
way human arms do

However, whereas as human arm has only rotational joints,

robot can include prismatic and revolute joints and have
greater ranges of motion strength in their joints
The robot structures shown in figures have three or four
joints and can position their end effectors within their

Robot Arm Structures

Robot Arm Structures


Robot Arm Structures

Robot Arm Structures


Mobile Robots
The main feature of mobile robots is the presence of a
mobile base which allows the robot to move freely in the
Unlike the manipulators, such robots are mostly used in
service applications, where extensive, autonomous motion
capabilities are required
From mechanical viewpoint, a mobile robot consists of one
or more rigid bodies equipped with a locomotion system
This description includes two main classes of mobile robots:
- Wheeled mobile robots
- Legged mobile robots

Mobile Robots
Wheeled Mobile robots typically consist of a rigid body(base
or chassis) and a system of wheels which provide motion
with respect to the ground
Legged mobile robots are made of multiple rigid bodies,
interconnected by prismatic joints or, often, by revolute
Some of these bodies form lower limbs, whose
extremities(feet) periodically come in contact with the
ground to realize locomotion
Large variety of mechanical structures in this class, whose
design is inspired by study of living organisms(biomimetic

Mobile Robots
Wheeled vehicles represent vast majority of mobile robots
actually used in applications
The basic mechanical element of such robots is wheel


Three types of conventional wheels


Mobile Robots
The fixed wheel can rotate about an axis that goes through
the center of the wheel and is orthogonal to the wheel plane
The wheel is rigidly attached to the chassis, whose
orientation with respect to the wheel is therefore constant
The steerable wheel has two axes of rotation. The first is the
same as fixed wheel, while second is vertical and goes
through the center of the wheel
This allows the wheel to change its orientation with respect
to the chassis

Mobile Robots
The caster wheel has two axes of rotation, but the vertical
axis does not pass through the center of the wheel, from
which it is displaced by a constant offset
Such an arrangement causes the wheel to swivel
automatically, rapidly aligning with the direction of motion
of the chassis
This type of wheel is therefore introduced to provide a
supporting point for static balance without affecting the
mobility of the base
For example, caster wheels are commonly used in shopping
carts as well as in chairs with wheels

Mobile Robots

The variety of kinematic structures that can be obtained by

combining the three conventional wheels is wide

The most relevant arrangements are briefly examined next

Mobile Robots
In a differential-drive vehicle there
are two fixed wheels with a
common axis of rotation, and one or
more caster wheels, typically
smaller, whose function is to keep
the robot statically balanced
The two fixed wheels are separately
controlled, in that different values of
angular velocity may arbitrarily be
imposed, while the caster wheel is

Mobile Robots
Such a robot can rotate on the
spot(i.e. without moving the
midpoint between the wheels),
velocities of the two wheels are
equal and opposite

Mobile Robots
A vehicle with similar mobility is
obtained using a synchronous drive
kinematic arrangement as shown in

This robot has three aligned

steerable wheels which are
synchronously driven by two
motors through a mechanical
coupling, e.g., a chain or a
transmission belt

Mobile Robots
The first motor controls rotation of the
wheels around the horizontal axis,
thus providing driving force (traction)
to the vehicle
The second motor controls the
rotation of the wheels around the
vertical axis, hence affecting their

Note that the heading of the chassis

does not change during the motion

Mobile Robots
Often, a third motor is used in this
independently the upper part of
the chassis (a turret) with respect
to the lower part
This may be useful to orient
arbitrarily a directional sensor(e.g.
a camera) or in any case to recover
an orientation error

Mobile Robots
In a tricycle vehicle shown below there
are two fixed wheels mounted on a rear
axle and steerable wheel in front
The fixed wheels are driven by a single
motor which controls their traction
The steerable wheel is driven by
another motor which changes its
orientation, acting then as a steering
Alternatively, the two rear wheels may
be passive and front wheel may provide
traction as well as steering

Mobile Robots
A car-like vehicle has two fixed
wheels mounted on a rear axle and
two steerable wheels mounted on a
front axle, as shown
One motor provides(front or rear)
traction while the other changes the
orientation of the front wheels with
respect to the vehicle
To avoid slippage, two front wheels
must have a different orientation
when the vehicle moves along a
curve; in particular, the internal
wheel is slightly more steered with
respect to the external one

Mobile Robots
There also exist other special types of
wheels, among which is notably the
Mecanum(or Swedish) wheel
It is conventional wheel with a series
of rollers attached to its circumference
These rollers having an axis of rotation
at 45 degrees to the plane of the
wheel in a plane parallel to the axis of
rotation of the wheel
As well as moving forward and
backward like conventional wheels,
they allow sideways movement by
spinning wheels on the front and rear
axles in opposite directions

Mobile Robots
It is obviously possible to merge the mechanical structure of
a manipulator with that of a mobile vehicle by mounting the
former on the latter
Such a robot is called a mobile manipulator and combines
the dexterity of the articulated arm with the unlimited
mobility of the base
The design of the mobile manipulator involves additional
difficulties, for instance, to the static and dynamic
mechanical balance of the robot, and to the actuation of the
two systems

Legged Robots
Legged locomotion is characterized by a series of point
contacts between the robot and the ground
The key advantages include adaptability and
maneuverability in rough terrain
Because only a set of point contacts is required, the quality
of the ground between those points does not matter so long
as the robot can maintain adequate ground clearance
In addition, a walking robot is capable of crossing a hole so
long as its reach exceeds the width of the hole

Legged Robots
A final advantage of legged locomotion is the potential to
manipulate objects in the environment with great skill
An excellent insect example, the dung beetle, is capable of
rolling a ball while locomotion by way of its dexterous front
The main disadvantages of legged locomotion include power
and mechanical complexity
The leg, which may include several degrees of freedom,
must be capable of sustaining part of the robots total
weight, and in many robots must be capable of lifting and
lowering the leg

Legged Robots

Additionally, high maneuverability will only be achieved if

the legs have sufficient number of degrees of freedom to
impart forces in a number of different directions

Leg Configuration and Stability

As legged robots are biologically inspired, it is instructive to
examine biologically successful legged systems
A number of different leg configurations have been successful in a
variety of organisms
Large animals, such as mammals and reptiles have four legs,
whereas insects have six or more legs
In some mammals, the ability to walk on only two legs has been
perfected. Especially in the case of humans, balance has
progressed to the point that we can even jump with one leg

Legged Robots

Mammals 2 or 4 legs

Reptiles 4 legs

Insects 6 legs

Leg Configuration and Stability

Insects and spiders are immediately able to walk when born.
For them, the problem of balance during walking is relatively
Mammals, with four legs, cannot achieve static walking but
are able to stand easily on four legs. Fawns, for example,
spend several minutes attempting to stand before they are
able to do so, then spend several more minutes learning to
walk without falling

Humans, with two legs, cant even stand in one place with
static stability. Infants, require months to stand and walk,
and even longer to learn to jump, run and stand on one leg

Leg Configuration and Stability

In case of legged mobile robots, a minimum of two DOF is
generally required to :
- move a leg forward by lifting the leg
- swinging it forward
More common is the addition of a third degree of freedom
for more complex maneuvers

Leg Configuration and Stability

In general, adding degrees of freedom to a robot leg

increases the maneuverability of the robot, both
augmenting the range of terrains on which it can travel and
the ability of the robot to travel with a variety of gaits

Leg Configuration and Stability

The primary disadvantages of additional joints and
actuators are, of course, energy, control and mass
Additional actuators require energy and control and they
also add to leg mass, further increasing power and load
requirements on existing actuators
In case of a multi-legged mobile robot, there is the issue
of leg coordination, or gait control
The number of possible gaits depends on number of legs.
The gait is a sequence of lift and release events for the
individual legs

Leg Configuration and Stability

For a mobile robot with k legs, the total number of possible
events for a walking machine is :
N = (2k 1)!
For a bipod walker k = 2 legs, the number of possible events
N is :
N = (2k 1)! = 3 x 2 x 1 = 6

Leg Configuration and Stability

The six different events are:

Lift right leg

Lift left leg
Release right leg
Release left leg
Lift both legs together
Release both legs together

Wheel versus Legged Robots

Wheeled Robots
Pros :
easy to construct and control
no use off power at stand still

cannot move in complex
catastrophic failure due to
motor damage(if few wheels)

Legged Robots
Discrete contacts with the
ground(good for passing
Can tackle a large variety of

Difficult to design and
Difficult to control
Control required to keep