1
A FullyIsotropic Parallel Orientation Mechanism
ChinHsing Kuo
*
Jian S. Dai
National Taiwan University of Science and Technology Kings College London
Taipei, Taiwan London, United Kingdom
AbstractA new threedegreeoffreedom fully
isotropic parallel orientation mechanism is presented in
this paper. The output link (endeffector) is connected to
the base by one spherical joint and by another three in
parallel legs, respectively. In each leg, one revolute joint
attached to the base is selected as the active joint. It
shows that, as a fact of being a fullyisotropic parallel
mechanism, actuating any of the active joints can make
the endeffector rotating about the axis of the actuated
joint with a same speed of the joints at any instant. In
contrast to the existing fullydecoupled parallel
orientation mechanisms, the mechanism proposed here is
nonoverconstrained and contains no redundant
actuations and homokinetic joints. The inverse and
direct kinematics problems of this mechanism are
analyzed. Meanwhile, the geometric reasoning of the
position kinematics solutions is demonstrated.
Keywords: decoupled motion, fully decoupled, isotropy, parallel
wrist mechanism, spherical parallel manipulator
I. Introduction
Parallel orientation mechanism, also known as the
spherical parallel manipulator or parallel wrist
mechanism, is a mechanism that, based on inparallel
actuations, generates a purely rotational motion with
respect to the fixed coordinate over its output link. It has
been widely applied into various industrial or medical
environments such as antenna orienting, surgical
manipulation, robotic wrists, etc.
Generally, a kinematically nonredundant parallel
orientation mechanism can be constructed in two
different ways. For the first type, an ndegreeof
freedom (DOF) parallel orientation mechanism is made
up of the base, an output link (or socalled the end
effector in parallel manipulators), and n serial chains (or
socalled the legs in parallel manipulators) that in
parallel connect the endeffector to the base. Through the
structural constraints provided by the n serial chains, the
output link is prohibited from moving in any direction so
it can only rotate about a fixed point in space. Normally,
one joint in each chain is selected to be actuated so that
the nDOF pure rotation can be controlled by the n serial
chains together. Based on this concept, many parallel
orientation mechanisms have been proposed and
*
chkuo717@mail.ntust.edu.tw
jian.dai@kcl.ac.uk
extensively studied. For example, Kong and Gosselin [1,
2] proposed the type synthesis of 3DOF spherical
parallel manipulators by using screw theory [1, 2]. Fang
[3] also addressed a screwtheoreticbased method for the
type synthesis of the 3DOF spherical parallel
manipulator with same legs. Karouia and Herv [4]
synthesized a group of 3DOF spherical parallel
mechanisms having asymmetric structures. HessCoelho
[5] summarized a list of possible structures for parallel
wrists and suggested a qualitative procedure for
evaluating the wrist mechanisms. Many other parallel
orientation mechanisms using this concept have been
exhaustively studied [616]. Further, some special
parallel orientation mechanisms have been built by using
parallelograms as the serial chains [17, 18].
The second type is based on the previous concept but
one additional joint is employed to completely constrain
the motion of the output link. The added joint, normally
a universal or spherical joint, articulate the output link to
the base such that the available motion space of the
output link is completely defined by the joint. The n
serial chains, each containing one actuated joint, are then
structured in a way that does contribute other motion
constraints to the output link. The most wellknown
parallel orientation mechanism for this type may be the
3DOF 3SPS/S (three sphericalprismaticsphericaljoint
legs and one additional spherical joint connecting the
endeffector and the base) parallel manipulator. Some
literatures have studied this mechanism exhaustively [19
21]. Some other 3DOF parallel orientation mechanisms
using a constrained joint can be found in [5]. In addition,
there have been few parallel orientation mechanisms with
two DOFs synthesized by using this concept [22, 23].
A robotic manipulator is said to be at an isotropic
configuration while its actuation motions and forces can
be best reflected onto the endeffector at this
configuration. In kinematics, when the manipulator is at
an isotropic configuration, there exists a onetoone
correspondence between the velocity spaces of the
actuated joints and the endeffector. Further, the
manipulator is said to be fullyisotropic if it is isotropic
throughout the entire workspace [24, 25]. There have
been some isotropic parallel wrist mechanism proposed
in literatures. In 2005, Gogu presented a family of fully
isotropic overconstrained 2DOF parallel wrist
mechanisms [26]. He further proposed two classes of 3
DOF parallel wrist mechanisms with fullyisotropic
configurations achieved by introducing the actuation
13th World Congress in Mechanism and Machine Science, Guanajuato, Mxico, 1925 June, 2011 A12_364
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redandancy [27] or the homokinetic joints [15].
Basically, depending on the mobility of the mechanism,
the above fullyisotropic parallel orientation mechanisms
are structured by using two or three constrained legs
without passive constrained joint. The motion space of
the endeffector is cooperatively constrained by the legs.
A new 3DOF fullyisotrpic parallel orientation
mechanism is put forward in this paper. The mechanism
is nonoverconstrained and without actuation redundancy
and homokinetic joints. The proposed parallel
manipulator consists of three active legs and one passive
spherical joint that connects the endeffector to the base.
In each leg, a relovute joint (Rjoint) mounted on the
base is selected for actuation. Under a specific joint
configuration, the three rotational DOFs of the end
effector is fully decoupled. The angular velocity of either
actuated Rjoint will make the endeffector rotating about
the same axis of this Rjoint with a same speed. In what
follows, the structure and geometric arrangement of this
mechanism will be introduced. The solving of inverse
and direct kinematics problems will be provided. And,
the geometric reasoning of the inverse and direct
kinematics problems will be discussed.
II. Description of the Mechanism
The proposed fullyisotropic parallel wrist mechanism
is as shown in Fig. 1. The endeffector is connected to
the base by one spherical joint (S) and by another three
inparallel legs, respectively. Each leg possesses the
same topological structure, which is composed of, as read
from base to the endeffector, a revolute joint (R), a
universal joint (U), and three consecutive prismatic joints
(P). According to the GrblerKutzbach criterion, the
mobility of the mechanism, m, can be calculated as:
3 ) 1 ( = + =
i
f j n m , (1)
where = 6 is the degrees of freedom of the space, n = 14
is the number of links, j = 16 is the number of joints, and
21 =
i
f is the total degrees of freedom of the joints.
As a result, the mobility of the mechanism is three, and
this mechanism is nonoverconstrained. Besides, it can
be quickly realized that the mechanism can output a 3
DOF spherical motion at the endeffector which can
rotate about the center of the Sjoint only.
For analyzing the kinematics of the mechanism, two
Cartesian coordinate systems A(x, y, z) and B(u, v, w) are
attached to the base and endeffector, respectively. As
shown in Fig. 1, in order to simplify the analysis, we
assume that the origin of the fixed coordinate A is located
at the center of the Sjoint O, and the origin of the
moving coordinate B is originally coincident with O.
Since the endeffector can only rotate about the center of
the Sjoint, the origin of the moving coordinate will be
always pivoted at O. Further, we assume that the moving
y
z
x
passive joint endeffector active joint
u
v
w
O
Fig. 1. A 3DOF fullyisotropic parallel orientation mechanism
coordinate is coincident with the fixed coordinate at the
initial position, i.e., the u, v, and waxis are initially
pointing at the x, y, and zdirections, respectively.
Furthermore, for achieving the fullyisotropic
condition, the mechanism is initially configured in a way
that meets the following geometric and actuation
conditions:
i) The axes of the three Rjoints are coincident with the
x, y, zaxis, respectively.
ii) In each leg, the axis of the Rjoint passes through the
center of the Ujoint.
iii) In each leg, the two axes of the Ujoint are
perpendicular to the axis of the Rjoint of this leg.
iv) In each leg, the three Pjoints can be arbitrarily
deposed provided that all the joint directions are not
parallel to each other.
v) In each leg, the Rjoint is selected as the actuated
joint, whereas all the others are passive.
The above geometric arrangements are as shown in Fig. 1.
Note that conditions i) and ii) remain valid during the full
cycle of motion but condition iii) may be destroyed after
the mechanism has an infinitesimal displacement.
In accordance with the above geometric conditions, we
further assemble the mechanism at a special initial
configuration for simplifying the analysis. Without
violating condition iii), we align the two axes of the U
joint in each leg with the two axial directions other than
the Rjoints. For example, if the Rjoint is directed at
the xaxis, the two axes of the Ujoint in this leg are
13th World Congress in Mechanism and Machine Science, Guanajuato, Mxico, 1925 June, 2011 A12_364
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initially aligned with the y and zdirections, respectively.
Also, without violating condition iv), we place the three
Pjoints in each leg pointing at the three axial directions
of the fixed coordinate, respectively. Since the
kinematics of a prismatic joint is independent of the joint
position, the articulation order of the three allocated joint
orientation can be freely altered. Accordingly, a feasible
joint configuration is defined as illustrated by the
structural graph in Fig. 2. In this graph, the characters
adjacent to the line segments represent the type of the
joints whereas the subscripts of the characters denote the
orientation(s) of the joint at the initial mechanism
configuration. The corresponding mechanism is shown
in Fig. 1.
Fig. 2. Structural graph of the mechanism in Fig. 1
III. Geometry Analysis
In this chapter, the fullyisotropic condition of this
mechanism is examined via the geometry analysis of the
mechanism. We will show that the mechanism is fully
isotropic, that is, actuating any of the active Rjoints can
make the endeffector rotating about the axis of this joint
with a same speed of the joints at any instant.
Since the three legs have the same topology and are
configured by a similar way, here we only analyze the leg
mounted at the xaxis for illustration. The analysis of the
other two legs can be done by following the same logic.
First of all, Fig. 3 depicts the geometry of the leg
mounted on the xaxis. In this figure, A
x
indicates the
point at which the Ujoint locates. E is a point on the
endeffector at which the three Pjoints attached on the
endeffector intersect. a
x
is the position vector measured
from point O to A
x
, whereas e is the position vector
measured from point O to E. d
1,x
, d
2,x
, and d
3,x
are the
position vectors representing the three consecutive P
joints in the leg, where d
1,x
is measured from A
x
to a point
R
x
, d
2,x
is measured from R
x
to a point B
x
, and d
3,x
is
measured from E to B
x
. d
3,y
and d
3,z
denote two Pjoints
of the other two legs which are attached to the end
effector and are both measured outward from E. u
2,x
is
the unit vector of first axis of the Ujoint connected with
the Rjoint, whereas u
3,x
is the unit vector of the second
axis of the Ujoint connected with the first Pjoint (as
read from base).
Ax
is the plane parallel to yzplane and
containing point A
x
. Lying on
Ax
, y and z are two unit
vectors passing through A
x
and pointing at the y and z
directions, respectively.
x
is the angle between z and
d
2,x
, which represents the angular displacement of the
actuated joint.
z
x
x
w
u
v
E
O
d
1,x
d
3,y
d
3,z
e
a
x
u
2,x
u
3,x
z'
A
x
plane
Ax
// yzplane
and containing A
x
y'
B
x
y
d
2,x
R
x
d
3,x
Fig. 3. The geometry of the leg mounted on the xaxis
Owing to the specific joint configuration, there are
some geometric constraints pertinent to these position
vectors. First, due to the geometric relationship between
the Rjoint and the Ujoint, point A
x
will be a fixed point
in space and d
2,x
will always lie on
Ax
. Further, since the
three consecutive Pjoints are configured with a
orthogonal pose, vector d
1,x
, will be always perpendicular
to d
2,x
and so do d
2,x
to d
3,x
. Therefore, R
x
and B
x
will be
the two perpendicular foots between the three vectors.
Furthermore, thanks to the intentionallydefined moving
coordinate and the orthogonal condition among all the P
joints in the mechanism, the following conditions will be
satisfied at any instant:
x , 3
// d u , (2a)
x y , 1 ,
//
3
// d d v , (2b)
x z , 2 ,
//
3
// d d w , (2c)
where u, v, and w are the unit vectors along the u, v,
and waxes of the moving coordinate and symbol //
indicates that the vectors in the both sides of the symbol
are parallel. Particularly, it is noticed that in Eq. (2b) the
axial direction of the first Pjoint is parallel the vaxis.
We further inspect this geometric relationship by together
considering the u
2,x
on plane
Ax
. Referring to Fig. 4,
u
, 1 x
d is the unit vector of d
1,x
. Since
u
, 1 x
d is always
coincident with the second axis of the Ujoint (i.e.,
x x , 3
u
, 1
u d = in Fig. 4), it will be always perpendicular to
u
2,x
. Recall that u
2,x
always lies on
Ax
. Therefore,
provided that
u
, 1 x
d is not perpendicular to
Ax
, the
projective vector of
u
, 1 x
d on
Ax
, k
Ax
, will be always
13th World Congress in Mechanism and Machine Science, Guanajuato, Mxico, 1925 June, 2011 A12_364
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perpendicular to u
2,x
. Since
u
, 1 x
d is parallel to the vaxis
of the moving coordinate and
Ax
is parallel to the yz
plane of the fixed coordinate, it turns out that the
projection of vector v on the yzplane will be always
perpendicular to the projection of u
2,x
on the yzplane.
Further, from Fig. 4, we can observe that the angle
between k
Ax
and y,
yz
v
u , is identical to that between u
2,x
and z,
x
.
Fig. 4. Geometrical interpretation of the input angle
The above geometric condition shows an interesting
inputoutput relationship between the actuated joint and
the endeffector. First, it proves that the projection of the
vaxis of the moving coordinate on the yzplane will be
always perpendicular to the unit vector of the first axis of
the Ujoint on the xaxis. In the other word, the
projective displacement of the vaxis on the yzplane will
be completely defined by the displacement of the Rjoint
at the xaxis. Further, the amount of this projective
displacement (
yz
v
u ) will be equal to the amount of the
angular displacement of the actuated joint (
x
). Therefore,
by following the same deduction above, we can find
other similar inputoutput relationships in the other two
legs. Consequently, a onetoone correspondence
between the displacement spaces of the actuated joints
and the endeffector can be expressed in a matrix form as
(
(
(
(
=
(
(
(
z
y
x
xy
u
zx
w
yz
v
o
o
o
u
u
u
1 0 0
0 1 0
0 0 1
, (3)
where ) , , (
xy
u
zx
w
yz
v
u u u represents the projective
displacements of the v, w, and uaxes on the yz, zx,
and xyplanes and (
x
,
y
,
z
) indicates the angular
displacements of the actuated joint on the x, y, and z
axes. Differentiating Eq. (3) with respect to time, the
following velocity equation is derived:
q J = , (4)
where
T
] , , [
z y x
e e e = is the velocity vector of the end
effector expressed in the fixed coordinate,
T
] , , [
z y x
o o o = q expresses the joint velocities of the
three Rjoints mounted on the x, y, and zaxes, and J is
the Jacobian matrix which is a 3 3 identity matrix. It
turns out that this mechanism is fullyisotropic and the
input joint velocities can be equally reflected onto the
velocity space of the endeffector expressed in the fixed
coordinate.
IV. Inverse Kinematics
For the inverse kinematics problem, the location of the
endeffector with respect to the fixed coordinate is given
and the angular displacements of the Rjoints,
x
,
y
,
z
,
are to be found. Because the endeffector can only rotate
about the Sjoint, the location of the endeffector is
completely defined by its rotation matrix. Therefore, let
us consider the rotation matrix,
B
A
R , which transforms
the fixed coordinate A to the moving coordinate B by the
direction cosines of the unit vectors u, v, and w; that is
(
(
= =
z z z
y y y
x x x
B
A
w v u
w v u
w v u
R ] , , [ w v u .
As shown in Fig. 4, we have learnt that the angular
displacement,
x
, is fully dependent on the projective
vector, k
Ax
. It implies that as long as k
Ax
is determined
the angular displacement
x
can be obtained accordingly.
Therefore, from the geometrical interpretation in Fig. 4,
the angle between k
Ax
and y can be calculated by the
equation below provided that k
Ax
is a nonnull projective
vector of
u
, 1 x
d on
Ax
:


.

\

'
'
=
y k
y k
cos
1
Ax
Ax
yz
v
u . (5)
Since v d k =
u
, 1
//
x Ax
and k
Ax
is on the yzplane, we can
readily realize
T
] , , 0 [
z y Ax
v v = k . Then, introducing the
facts of
T
] 0 , 1 , 0 [ = ' y and
yz
v
x
u o = into Eq. (5), the input
angle rotating about the xaxis,
x
, can be obtained as



.

\

+
=
2 2
1
cos
z y
y
x
v v
v
o . (6)
Similarly, by applying this analysis procedure for the
other legs, the other two input angles rotating about the y
and zaxes can be derived as
13th World Congress in Mechanism and Machine Science, Guanajuato, Mxico, 1925 June, 2011 A12_364
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.

\

+
=
2 2
1
cos
z x
z
y
w w
w
o (7)
and



.

\

+
=
2 2
1
cos
y x
x
z
u u
u
o . (8)
Hence, when the rotation matrix
B
A
R is given, there
are two solutions in each of Eqs. (6), (7) and (8).
Therefore, for a given location of the endeffector, there
are two corresponding configurations in each leg. It
therefore concludes that there are eight possible solutions
for the inverse kinematics problem for this mechanism.
In addition to the input angles, the link lengths of the
three Pjoints in each leg are worth to be computed.
According to Fig. 3, the loop equation of the leg mounted
on the xaxis can be written as
x x x x
a e d d d = +
, 3 , 2 , 1
. (9)
Note that a
x
is a given geometric parameter and e can be
obtained when the rotation matrix
B
A
R and an arbitrary
point E are defined. Furthermore, due to the geometric
constraint, the following equations are held in any
configuration:
v d
x x
d
, 1 , 1
= , (10)
w d
x x
d
, 2 , 2
= , (11)
u d
x x
d
, 3 , 3
= . (12)
where d
1,x
, d
2,x
, and d
3,x
are the representative lengths of
vectors d
1,x
, d
2,x
, and d
3,x
and the unit vectors u, v, and w
have been given by the rotation matrix. Substituting Eqs.
(10), (11), and (12) into (9) and expressing Eq. (9) in
three scalar equations, we can conclude a system of three
linear equations with three unknown: d
1
, d
2
, and d
3
. As a
result, the representative lengths of the three Pjoints can
are solved.
V. Direct Kinematics
For the direct kinematics problem, the angular
displacements of the Rjoints are given and the location
of the endeffector with respect to the fixed coordinate is
to be found. Since the endeffector only possesses a 3
DOF rotational motion centered at the Sjoint, the direct
kinematics problem is reduced to the solving of the
rotation matrix,
B
A
R .
A. Algebraic solution
The algebraic solution of the rotation matrix can be
figured out based on the special geometrical relationship
in the mechanism. Referring to Fig. 3, we know that
based on the defined coordinate systems d
1,x
is always
parallel to the vaxis of the moving coordinate. Also,
subject to the structural constraint of the Ujoint, d
1,x
is
always perpendicular to u
2,x
. Considering the above two
geometric constraints together, we can readily realize that
all possible solutions of d
1,x
will form a set of vectors
lying on the plane that passes A
x
and is normal to u
2,x
.
For illustrating this geometry, Fig. 5 is provided. In this
figure, plane
Dx
is defined by its normal vector u
2,x
and
point A
x
, and
u
, 1 x
d , which is to be found, should locate on
Dx
.
Fig. 5. Geometry interpretation for the direct kinematics problem
Therefore, when the actuated joint angle,
x
, is given,
the vector u
2,x
can be derived as
T
, 2
] cos , sin , 0 [
x x x
o o = u . (13)
Further, because k
Ax
is a vector lying
Ax
and being
perpendicular to u
2,x
, it can be expressed as
T
] sin , cos , 0 [
x a x a Ax
o o = k , (14)
where 
a
 represents the length of the vector. Since k
Ax
is the projective vector of
u
, 1 x
d on plane
Ax
,
u
, 1 x
d can be
written as
T u
, 1
] sin , cos , [
x a x a x
a o o = d . (15)
where a is a variable defining the xcomponent of
u
, 1 x
d .
Because
u
, 1 x
d is a unit vector, Eq. (15) should follow the
identity equation of 1
2 2
= + a
a
.
Similarly, we can carry out the above analysis in the
other two legs and obtain two equations in terms of
u
, 1 y
d
13th World Congress in Mechanism and Machine Science, Guanajuato, Mxico, 1925 June, 2011 A12_364
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and
u
, 1 z
d (which express the vector of the first Pjoint in
the leg amounted on the y and zaxes, respectively) and
two associated identity equations. Therefore, having
known the fact of ) , , ( ) , , (
u
, 1
u
, 1
u
, 1 y x z
d d d w v u = , we obtain
T
] , sin , cos [ c
z c z c
o o = u , (16)
T
] sin , cos , [
x a x a
a o o = v , (17)
T
] cos , , sin [
y b y b
b o o = w , (18)
subject to the three identity equations below:
0 1
2 2
= + a
a
, (19)
0 1
2 2
= + b
b
, (20)
0 1
2 2
= + c
c
. (21)
Further, since u, v, and w are three orthogonal vectors,
the orthogonal conditions 0 = = = w v w u v u should
be satisfied. Accordingly, based on Eqs. (16), (17), and
(18), the following three equations are obtained:
0
13 12 11
= + +
a c a c
c e e a e , (22)
0
23 22 21
= + +
b c c b
c e b e e , (23)
0
33 32 31
= + +
b a a b
e b e a e . (24)
where e
ij
, i, j = 1 to 3, are the coefficients given by
x
,
y
,
z
. Equations (19) through (24) form a system of six
seconddegree polynomials in six unknowns: a, b, c,
a
,
b
, and
c
. When the six unknown are solved, the
elements in the rotation matrix can be computed through
Eqs. (16), (17), and (18). Although the fundamental
algebra theorem indicates that this system has at most
64 2
6
= solutions, a 3homogeneous formulation
of the
system shows that the maximum number of solutions of
the homogeneous system can be reduced to 16. While
there will be half of solutions conflicting the righthand
rules between u, v, and w, we can conclude that the direct
kinematics problem of this mechanism has at most 8
possible solutions.
B. Geometric reasoning
The algebraic solution of the direct kinematics for this
mechanism can be realized by a geometrical reasoning.
In Fig. 3, we showed that the vaxis of the moving
coordinate must be parallel to d
1,x
. In Fig. 5, we learnt
that d
1,x
must lie on a plane whose normal vector u
2,x
is
v
w
O u
w
v
L
w1
L
w2
L
u2
L
u1
L
v1
L
v2
Fig. 6. Geometrical reasoning for the direct kinematics problem
13th World Congress in Mechanism and Machine Science, Guanajuato, Mxico, 1925 June, 2011 A12_364
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VI. Conclusions
A fullyisotropic parallel orientation mechanism has
been introduced in this paper. The proposed 3DOF
parallel manipulator is nonoverconstrained, and it
possesses a onetoone correspondence between the
inputoutput velocities that actuating any of the active
joints can make the endeffector rotating about the axis of
the actuated joint with a same speed of the joints at any
instant. For studying this mechanism, the geometry
analysis has been carried out and the fullyisotropic
condition is proven accordingly. Furthermore, the
inverse and direct kinematics problems were studied. For
the inverse kinematics analysis, we found that there are at
most 8 possible solutions. For the direct kinematics
problem, it has shown that there are at most 16 possible
solutions. The geometric reasoning for the position
kinematics has been furnished for validating the algebraic
solutions.
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