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Proceedings of the European Control Conference 2009 Budapest, Hungary, August 2326, 2009

TuB14.5

Modeling and Validation of a Planar Flexible Manipulator


L. Bossi, L. Magni, C. Rottenbacher and G. Mimmi

Abstract The modeling and validation problem of a laboratory planar flexible manipulator with a link in composite
material has been considered. The goal of the paper is to
obtain a model useful for the synthesis of feedback control
laws. A mathematical linear model, based on the Hamilton
principle, is complemented with a nonlinear friction model.
Suitable experiments are designed in order to identify the parameters of the model that cannot be measured or analytically
computed. Once the single components of the model have been
identified, the whole model has been validated with open- and
closed-loop experiments. The closed loop validation has been
performed using two control strategies. The first one is a single
input (position error) single output (motor torque) controller
synthesized in the frequency domain and the second one is a
multi input (position error and link deflection) single output
(motor torque) controller based on a Linear Quadratic (LQ)
optimal control law complemented with an observer and an
integral action.

I. INTRODUCTION
Lightweight exible manipulators have been a widely
investigated topic in the eld of mechatronic systems. They
represent an attractive alternative to heavy and bulky robots
in a wide spectrum of applications because of their high
payload-weight ratio and lower energy consumption. Examples of this go from simple pick and place tasks of an
industrial robot to micro-surgery and substitution of human
operations in inhospitable environments like nuclear plant
or space [3]. Many papers on modeling and control issue of
such systems have appeared during the last decades exploring
a huge variety of different strategies some of which has
proved rather effective in real applications [1]. Very complex
and accurate models have been developed to describe the
nonlinear dynamical behavior of multilink lightweight robots
[5]. However, more experimental investigations should be
carried on to better understand the actual effectiveness of
the various techniques developed in this eld. Moreover
only very few researchers considered the possibility of
modeling manipulators in composite materials so that a
lot of experimental work is still required to control the
exibility effects [6]. This paper is intended to ll the gap
of literature in the eld of theoretical modeling validation
and control of exible manipulators with composite material
links. In particular the goal of this paper is to obtain a model
useful for the synthesis of feedback control laws. A linear
mathematical model, derived by using the Hamilton principle
L. Bossi and L. Magni are with the Dipartimento di Informatica e
Sistemistica, Universita degli Studi di Pavia, via Ferrata 1, 27100 Pavia,
Italy. {luca.bossi, lalo.magni}@unipv.it
C. Rottenbacher and G. Mimmi are with the Dipartimento di Meccanica
Strutturale, Universita degli Studi di Pavia, via Ferrata 1, 27100 Pavia, Italy.

{rottenbacher, giovanni.mimmi}@unipv.it

978-3-9524173-9-3
Copyright EUCA 2009

approach and complemented with a nonlinear friction model


is considered. Then a parameters identication procedure is
described. In particular suitable experiments are designed in
order to identify the parameters of the model that cannot
be measured or analytically computed. The closed loop
validation has been done using two control strategies. The
rst one is a single input (position error) single output (motor
torque) controller synthesized in the frequency domain and
the second one is a multi input (position error and deection)
single output (motor torque) controller based on an LQ
control law complemented with an observer and an integral
action. Conclusions are drawn in the last section.
II. EXPERIMENTAL APPARATUS
The experimental device is a part of the TEMSRAD
(Testbed for Microgravity Simulation in Robotic Arm Dynamics) [9] and consists of a exible robotic arm driven by
a brushless servomotor, operating in a working space compatible with the volume of a standard Express Pallet Adapter
(EPA) for on board experiments on the International Space
Station (ISS). It is made of an aluminium fork and composite
laminate material beam. The robotic arm is suspended on a
special air-pad oating on a planar friction-free glass surface
in order to simulate the dynamic behavior in a micro-gravity
environment. In this way the torsional vibration components
are reduced even with a payload mounted at the end point
of the manipulator. The link in kevlar bre tissue is very
exible in the operating plane; on the contrary it can be
considered rigid in the other directions. The robotic arm is
actuated with a Kollmorgen 713RBH brushless motor with
a maximum torque of 0.3 Nm driven by a sinusoidal digital
servoamplier Danhaer Motion Servostar S606, capable to
produce a maximum current of 6A. An internal current loop,
realized by the servo amplier, with parameters tuned by
the manufacturer, supplies the control torque of the motor.
A resolver is mounted on motor axis to furnish the rotor
position, needed by the amplier in order to provide the
right signal for motor driving. The system is equipped with
strain gauges in a full-bridge conguration mounted both
at the base and in the middle of the link, to measure
deections and with a potentiometer mounted on the motor
hub, to measure the angular position of the motor shaft.
The Real Time Application used is the MATLAB Real
Time Target interfaced with a PCMCIA DAQ Card 6036E
by National Instruments. This interface permits a real time
signal monitoring of potentiometer, strain gauges, actual
in-phase current (active component Iq ), and enables to an
easy implementation of innovative control strategies without
wasting time on programming issues.

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L. Bossi et al.: Modeling and Validation of a Planar Flexible Manipulator

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III. MODEL DESCRIPTION


A. Linear Model Equations
The following boundary value problem is obtained applying the Hamilton Principle [8] using the reference frame Xp ,
Yp (see Fig. 1) passing through the center of mass:

p (x, t) + x
(t)) = 0
EIwp (x, t) + (w
(1)
(t) J
(t) = 0
where x and t are respectively spatial and time coordinate,
wp (x, t) is the link deection, is the linear mass density,
(t) is the applied torque, (t) is the angle of the center of
mass, E is the Young modulus, I is the cross area inertia and
J is the total inertia of the system considering the rotating
inertia of the joint, the inertia of the payload at the tip and
the inertia of the beam.
For the expansion theorem the solution of (1) can be
represented by an absolutely and uniformly convergent series
in the eigenfunctions in the form


pi (x)pi (t)
wp (x, t) =
i=1

where pi (x) is the exact eigenfunction and pi (t) is the time


dependent term. Truncating the series at the n considered
modes of vibration, the following system is derived [4]

J
(t) = (t)
pi (t) + 2i pi (t) + i2 pi (t) = pi (0) (t)
i = 1, . . . , n where i2 are the eigenvalues of the system
which correspond
to the squares of angular frequencies

i = i2 EI/ , being i the innite solutions of the
characteristic equation of the eigenvalue problem [2]. Note
that the damping ratio includes the dissipation effects due
to the internal frictions of the link, the friction between
the air-pad and the table and the air resistance. However,
it does not represent the damping of the overall structure,
in fact, the effect of other friction sources such as the
friction produced by the motor will be described separately
in the next subsection. As it will be claried in the model
identication section, the decision to consider some friction
phenomena in the damping ratio and some explicitly in
the friction model is driven by the possibility to design
experiments able to identify them.
In order to obtain the system description with respect to
the clamped reference frame Xc Yc (see Fig. 1) the following
change of coordinates is done:
ci (x) = pi (x) xpi (0)
ci (t) = pi (t) = i (t)
where ci (x) is the exact eigenfunction and ci (t) is the time
dependent term in the new reference frame.
In this way the hub angle hub (t), the tip angle tip (t)
and the deection at the end point of the end-effector in the
clamped reference frame wc (l, t) can be derived as follows:
n

hub (t) = (t)


n + i=1 pi (0)i (t)
wc (l, t) = i=1 ci (l)i (t)

w (l,t)
= (t) + p l
tip (t) = hub (t) + wc (l,t)
l

Fig. 1.

Single Link Manipulator

where
wp (l, t) =

n


pi (l)i (t).

i=1

Finally dening the state and the output vectors


= 1 n 1 n

y = hub wc (l, )

the system equations can be rewritten in the following state


space representation

(t)

= A(t) + B (t)
(2)
Y (t) = C(t)
where

A =

0
..
.

0
..
.

..
.

..
.

0
0
0
0
0 12
..
..
.
.
0
0


B = 0 0

1 p1 (0)
C=
0 c1 (l)

0
..
.
0
0
0
..
.
n2

1
0
..
.
1
..
..
.
.
0
0
0
0
0 21 1
..
..
.
.
0
0

..
.

..
.

0
..
.
1
0
0
..
.

2n n

0 J1 p1 (0) pn (0)

pn (0) 0 0 0
cn (l) 0 0 0

B. Friction model
In the considered plant the dissipative effects that are not
taken into account in the damping factor are the internal
friction of the motor and the friction due to wires torsion.
We will take into account these complex effects introducing
the following friction model, that is a simplication of the
classical Karnopp friction model described in [10]:

if |hub | > d
c sgn(hub )
f =

if | | < s , |hub | < d

s sgn(hub )
otherwise

where f is the overall friction torque, s the static friction,


c the Coulomb friction, d the velocity dead-zone.

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Proceedings of the European Control Conference 2009 Budapest, Hungary, August 2326, 2009

TABLE I

C. Actuator limitation

YOUNG MODULUS CHARACTERIZATION

Another non linear effect is due to the saturation on the


control variable (i.e. min (t) max ) due to the limit
on the torque supplied by the motor.

Applied Mass [Kg]


0.005
0.010
0.015
0.020
0.025

IV. MODEL IDENTIFICATION


In this section the values of the parameters of the plant
reported in Table II are derived. In particular the mass of
the payload mp , the linear mass density of the beam , the
beam length l, the cross area inertia I are easily measurable
from the plant; the mass moment of inertia of the payload
Jp and the hub inertia J0 are computed starting from the
geometrical and physical characteristics of the system, while
the Young modulus E, the damping ratio and the friction
are identied on the base of experimental data obtained with
suitable experiments performed on single parts of the plant
or on the overall plant.
A. Young modulus characterization
The identication of the Young modulus E requires a
beam test. In fact the theoretical estimation of this parameter
may be quite different from the real one because the composite material link has peculiar characteristics strongly dependent on the manufacturing process. The composite materials
are also subject to ageing that produces link stiffness loss.
The beam test is performed as follows: the link is clamped
at one end and increasing mass payloads are hanged up at
the free end of the link.

Fig. 2.

TuB14.5

Displacement [m]
0.023
0.029
0.034
0.039
0.044

Young Modulus E [GPa]


6.6867
6.4081
6.4081
6.4081
6.4081

aluminium stirrup is screwed, to avoid a beam break in that


point.
The obtained values, summarized in Table I, highlight a
quite linear elasticity model of the beam in the range of
displacements where the tests have been performed. Nevertheless different experiments made on the overall system
show the presence of a nonlinear behavior of the system for
very small and very large values of the beam deections. Different sweep signals with increasing amplitude are applied
to the motor as torque references. As can be seen in Fig.
3 the wider is the produced displacement, the lower is the
frequency at which the resonance peak occurs. In conclusion
the most suitable choice seemed to be E = 6.408 [GPa] since
it better describes the vibrations dynamic behavior in a wider
range.

Experimental test bed

Starting from the relationships between the applied force


F and the displacement we can nd the Young modulus
by the following equation derived by structural mechanic [7]
E=

F l3
3I

Fig. 3.

Resonance frequency shift

B. Relevant modes identification

where F = mg is the force acting on the end point of the


beam; m and g are respectively the total applied mass and
the gravity acceleration, with m = m1 + m2 where m1 is
the weight of the applied mass reported in Table I, while
m2 = 0.019[kg] is the weight of a thin plate, inserted in the
cavity of the link, in correspondence of the area where the

To develop a good model for control it is very important


to understand which modes of vibration are actually excited.
The values of the resonant frequencies computed with the
analytical model are f1 = 7.27 Hz the rst one and f2 =
18.21 Hz the second one. The test performed to nd out
the relevant modes, consists in the application of a torque
sweep to the motor, sweeping frequencies from 0 to 50 Hz.

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L. Bossi et al.: Modeling and Validation of a Planar Flexible Manipulator

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TABLE II

The spectral analysis of the strain gauges measurements is


shown in Fig. 4. We can recognize the rst mode, with a
frequency that is very similar to the analytical one, while
we see a relevant peak at about 28 Hz that is very different
from the second analytical mode. To better understand this
phenomena a second experiment has been performed with an
air-pad at the end of the arm. From the spectral analysis of

M ODEL PARAMETERS
Parameter

I
Jp
s
c
max
d

Spectrum estimate

0.18

Value
0.034
2.95E 11 [m4 ]
1.73E 5 [kgm2 ]
0.065[N m]
0.0055[N m]
0.214[N m]
0.002[m/s]

Airpad, Central
Airpad, Base
No Airpad, Central
No Airpad, Base

0.16

0.14

Parameter
E
J0
l

mp
min

Value
8.46E 9 [P a]
0.0016[kgm2 ]
0.42[m]
0.09[kg/m]
0.155[kg]
0.214[N m]

TABLE III
R EPEATABILITY

EXPERIMENTS ANALYSIS

0.12

Designed
Hub Rotation
20
45
60
90
120

Gain

0.1

0.08

0.06

0.04

0.02

0
0

10

15

20

25

30

Model
Hub rotation
18.84
42.70
58.25
85.00
112.00

Actual Hub Rotation


Mean Value
10.49
29.15
51.60
69.00
67.62

Actual Hub
Rotation SD
0.25
0.45
0.44
0.46
2.01

35

Frequency (Hz)

Fig. 4.

Modal analysis

both strain gauges signals reported in Fig. 4 it is clear that


the amplitude of the second peak is signicantly reduced.
This is due to the fact that this is not a exural mode but a
torsional one that is not described by the model. In view of
these experimental results we decided to consider only one
exural mode of vibration.
C. Damping and friction Identification
1) Damping Identification: As it is described in the previous section the damping ratio describes also the effect of
some friction terms. The ones due to the motor rotation are
not involved in it. Then in order to identify we clamp the
link at the joint end. Then, given an initial displacement to
the end effector, the resulting free vibrations are analyzed.
Applying the method of logarithmic decrement [11] we
identify the damping ratio value = 0.034.
2) Friction identification: To obtain the friction model of
the plant, three parameters should be identied: the static
friction s , the velocity threshold d and the coulomb friction
c . The rst parameter is identied applying increasing
torque till a joint motion is produced. The needed torque
value to move the motor is the value assigned to s . The value
d is usually very small and difcult to estimate. We have
arbitrarily chosen it equal to 0.001 degrees/s. The procedure
to identify c follows the sequent steps. First an experiment
similar to the one made for the identication of the damping
factor but without clamping the link is made. Based on it
an estimation of an equivalent damping factor of the whole
plant is obtained. Then we perform several simulations
for different increasing values of c . The damping value for
each simulation is computed by means of the logarithmic
decrement applied to the deection responses obtained in

simulation. Then the damping values are plotted on the yaxis vs the correspondent c values on the x-axis. Finally,
starting from the knowledge of the real global damping ratio
, we can obtain an estimation of c .
V. MODEL VALIDATION FOR CONTROL
Once the single components of the model have been
identied it is necessary to validate the whole model. The
goal of this paper is to obtain a model useful for the synthesis
of feedback control laws. It is well known that this requires
a good model in a particular range of frequencies while it is
not necessary to have a very precise model at low or high
frequencies. However the rst validation experiments have
been done in open loop in order to verify the repeatability
of the experiments. Then, a closed loop validation has been
done using two control strategies. The rst one is a single
input (position error) single output (motor torque) controller
synthesized in the frequency domain and the second one is
a multi input (position error and deection) single output
(motor torque) controller based on an LQ control law complemented with an observer and an integral action.
A. Open loop validation
Well suited bang-bang torque proles, designed on the
base of the system model without friction, are applied several
times to the motor in order to obtain an hub rotation of 20 ,
45 , 60 , 90 and 120 respectively. Table III summarizes
the obtained results. In particular the asymptotic value of
the rotation obtained in simulation with the full model (also
with the friction model), the mean value and the standard
deviation (SD) of the asymptotic value obtained on the
experimental set-up are reported. It is important to notice
that the standard deviations obtained are very small. On
the contrary, the mean value is rather different from the
simulated one and also with a nonlinear behavior with
respect to the amplitude of the hub rotation. This information

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Proceedings of the European Control Conference 2009 Budapest, Hungary, August 2326, 2009

suggests to synthesize a regulator with a high gain in order


to obtain a small regulation asymptotic error.

Fig. 7.
hub [Degrees]

A standard position control scheme is implemented using


only the hub position measurement. The controller, synthesized in the frequency domain, is given by

[Degrees]
hub

11.5

12

12.5

13

13.5

14

14.5

15

w(l,t) [mm]

50

50
10

(t) [Nm]

1.5

2.5

3.5

4.5

0.5

1.5

2.5

3.5

4.5

w(l,t) [mm]
(t) [Nm]

0.5

0
Simulation
Real#1
Real#2

0.5

0.5

1.5

2.5

3.5

4.5

C. Multi Input Single Output closed-loop validation


10.5

11

11.5

12

12.5

13

13.5

14

14.5

A second closed-loop validation has been performed using


also the base strain gauge measure. To this aim, a regulator
based on a Linear Quadratic (LQ) optimal control law
has been adopted. In Fig. 8 the overall control scheme is

15

0.1

0
Simulation
Real# 1
Real# 2

0.1
10

0.5

the rigid mode as well as the exible one, while the torque
required by the regulator in the real plant and in the simulated
one are comparable, with only very small deviations likely
due to the approximation of friction model, such as the
chosen threshold d.

50

11

100

100

10.5

100

The validation has been performed applying sinusoidal position references with different frequencies and amplitudes.
In particular Fig. 5 and 6 show the system response to a
sinusoidal position reference signal, having 40 amplitude at
0.2 Hz and 0.4 Hz frequency respectively.

0
10

100

100

5(s + 1)
(s + 5)(s + 300)

150

Filtered Step 120 Positioning

200

B. Single Input Single Output closed-loop validation

R(s) =

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10.5

11

Fig. 5.

11.5

12

12.5
Time [s]

13

13.5

14

14.5

15

Sinusoidal position reference, 0.2 Hz

[Degrees]

150

50

hub

100

0
10

10.5

11

11.5

12

12.5

13

13.5

14

14.5

15

10.5

11

11.5

12

12.5

13

13.5

14

14.5

15

w(l,t) [mm]

100

100
10

Fig. 8.

LQ control scheme with state observer and integral action

(t) [Nm]

0.5

0
Simulation
Real#1
Real#2

0.5
10

10.5

Fig. 6.

11

11.5

12

12.5
Time [s]

13

13.5

14

14.5

15

Sinusoidal position reference, 0.4 Hz

The blue line is obtained via simulation while the other


ones are experimental results. Finally Fig. 7 shows the
system response to the 120 amplitude position reference
signal reported with the black dashed line in the rst subplot. Looking at the gures, we can observe that the model is
capable to capture with good approximation the dynamics of

reported. In view of the relevant model gain uncertainties


stressed by the open loop validation, an integral action on
the position error has been introduced in order to guarantee
an asymptotic zero-error regulation. Moreover an observer
is required. The LQ controller is synthesized, assuming that
the state is available, based only on the linear model (2),
without considering the friction model, and the model of the
integrator. For this reason the following enlarged system has
been derived:
.

0
(t) + B
hub
(t)
= A(t)
+ B
(t),

t 0,

where

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(0)

=
0

L. Bossi et al.: Modeling and Validation of a Planar Flexible Manipulator

A
C1

0
0

=
B

B
0

=
B

0
1

! 

A =

TuB14.5

v is the state of the integrator, C1 is the rst line of the


0
matrix C and hub
is the reference signal for hub .
The cost function to be minimized is




J (
0 , ()) =

() Q
() + () R () d
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0 0.05

so that the control law is










 
 



 

Q=

0
0
1
0
0




" 

50 0
0 1
0 0
0 0
0 0



where



R = 1000


 


! 










Fig. 9.




LQ control validation

(t) = K (t)

VI. C ONCLUSION

where

P
K = R1 B

and P is the only positive denite solution of steady Riccati


equation
1 B
P.
0 = P A + A P + Q P BR
The cost matrices Q and R are chosen in order to penalize
more the position error and less the integral action. Moreover
since the plant is equipped only with two transducers that
furnish a measure proportional to the motor rotation and
a measure proportional to the end-effector displacement
from the neutral axis, the state system is not completely
measurable. Then the following state observer is used:
.

(t)
= A(t)
+ B (t) L (y(t) C (t))

where (t)

is an estimation of the state system (t) and L


is chosen such that the eigenvalues of the matrix A+LC are
BK.

less faster than the slowest eigenvalues of the matrix A


In particular
the
vector
of
the
eigenvalues
of
A+LC
is
equal

to r = 5 5 10 10 . Then the overall regulator


is given by
.

(t)

= A(t)
+ B (t) L (y(t) C (t))

0
v(t)

= C1 (t) hub (t)




(t)

(t) = K
v(t)
In Fig. 9 a step response of 120 of the hub is reported.
The blue line is the simulated evolution while the other ones
are the experimental responses. The mean value and the
standard deviation of the hub position after 5 seconds for
several experiments are 121.1 and 0.3 respectively. From
the mean value it is possible to notice that in spite of the
presence of the integral action a small error remains. This
is due to the small value of the element (5,5) of the matrix
Q that penalizes the integral state. However, this small error
is negligible while an increase of the penalty on the integral
action increases the oscillations on the arm. Moreover, the
SD is reduced with respect to the same experiment made in
open-loop (see Table III).

A mathematical model for the synthesis of a regulator for


a laboratory planar exible manipulator has been proposed
and successfully validated. Remarkably, even if the nonlinear
friction model and the actuator limitation are not directly
considered in the synthesis of the control law, they are
required to choose the values of the controller parameters
in simulation before applying them to the experimental setup.
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