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Robotics is the engineering science and technology of robots, and their

design, manufacture, application, and structural disposition. Robotics requires
a working knowledge of electronics, mechanics, and software. A person
working in this field is known as a roboticist.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word robotics was first
used in print by Isaac Asimov, in his science fiction short story "Liar!",
published in May 1941 in Astounding Science Fiction. Asimov was unaware
that he was coining the term; since the science and technology of electrical
devices is electronics, he assumed robotics already referred to the science
and technology of robots. However, in some of Asimov's other works, he
states that the first use of the word robotics was in his short story Runaround
(Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942). The word robotics was derived
from the word robot, which was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel
Čapek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), which premiered in

Although the appearance and capabilities of robots vary vastly, all

robots share the features of a mechanical, movable structure under some
form of control. The structure of a robot is usually mostly mechanical and can
be kinematic chain (its functionality became akin to the skeleton of a body).
The chain is formed of links (its bones), actuators (its muscles) and joints
which can allow one or more degrees of freedom. Most contemporary robots
use open serial chains in which each link connects the one before to the one
after it. These robots are called serial robots and often resemble the human
arm. Some robots such as the Stewart platform use closed parallel kinematic
chains. Other structures, such as those mimic the mechanical structure of
humans, various animals and insects, are comparatively rare. However, the
development and use of such structures in robots is an active area of
research (e.g. biomechanics). Robots used as manipulators have an end
effector mounted on the last link. This end effector can be anything from a
welding device to a mechanical hand used to manipulate environment.

The mechanical structure of a robot must be controlled to perform

tasks. The control of a robot involves three distinct phases – perception,
processing and action (robotic paradigms). Sensors give information about
the environment or the robot itself (e.g. the position of its joints or its end
effector). Using strategies from field of control theory, this information is
processed to calculate the appropriate signals to the actuators (motors) which
move the mechanical structure. The control of a robot involves various
aspects such as path planning, pattern recognition, obstacle avoidance, etc.
More complex and adaptable control strategies can be referred to as artificial

Any task involves the motion of the robot. The study of motion can be
divided into kinematics and dynamics. Direct kinematics refers to the
calculation of end effector position, orientation, velocity, and acceleration
when the corresponding joint values are known. Inverse kinematics refers to
the opposite case in which required joint values are calculated for given end
effector values, as done in path planning. Some special aspects of kinematics
include handling of redundancy (different possibilities of performing the same
movement), collision avoidance and singularity avoidance. Once all relevant
positions, velocities and accelerations have been calculated using kinematics,
methods from the field of dynamics are used to study the effect of forces upon
these movements. Direct dynamics refers to the calculation of accelerations in
the robot. Inverse dynamics refers to the calculation of the actuator forces
necessary to create a prescribed end effector acceleration. This information
can be used to improve the control algorithms of a robot.

In each area mentioned above, researchers strive to develop new

concepts and strategies, improve existing ones and improve the interaction
between these areas. To do this, criteria for “optimal” performance and ways
to optimize design, structure, and control of robots must be developed and

Three Laws of Robotics


1921 - Czechoslovakian playwright Karel Cpek introduces the word robot in
the play R.U.R. – Rossum’s Universal Robots. The word comes from the
Czech robota, which means tedious labor.

1938 - The first programmable paint-spraying mechanism is designed by

Americans Willard Pollard and Harold Roselund for the DeVilbiss Company.
1942 - Isaac Asimov publishes Runaround, in which he defines the Three
Laws of Robotics.

1946 – Emergence of the computer: George Devol patents a general purpose

playback device for controlling machines, using magnetic recording; J.
Presper Eckert and John Mauchly build the ENIAC at the University of
Pennsylvania – the first electronic computer; At MIT, Whirlwind, the first digital
general purpose computer, solves its first problem.

1948 – Norbert Wiener, a professor at M.I.T., publishes Cybernetics or

Control and Communication in the Animal, a book which describes the
concept of communications and control in electronic, mechanicalm and
biological systems.

1951 – In France, Raymond Goertz designs the first teleoperated articulated

arm for the Atomic Energy Commission. The design is based entirely on
mechanical coupling between the master and slave arms (using steel cables
and pulleys). Derivatives of this design are still seen in places where handling
or small nuclear samples is required. This is generally regarded as the major
milestone in force feedback technology.

1954 – George Devol designs the first programmable robot and coins the term
Universal Automation, planting the seed for the name of his future company –

1959 – Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy establish the Artificial Intelligence
Laboratory in MIT.

1960 – Unimation is purchased by Condec Corporation and development of

Unimate Robot Systems begins.
American Machine and Foundry, later known as AMF Corporation,
markets the first cylindrical robot, called the Versatran, designed by Harry
Johnson and Veljko Milenkovic.

1962 – General Motors purchases the first individual robot from Unimation
and installs it on a production line. This manipulator is the first of many
Unimates to be deployed.

1963 – John McCarthy heads up the new Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at

Stanford University.

1964 – Artificial intelligence research laboratories are opened at MIT, Stanford

Research Institute (SRI), Stanford University, and the University of Edinburgh.

1964 – C&D Robotics founded.

1965 – Carnegle Mellon University establishes the Robotics Institute.

1965 – Homogeneous transformations applied to robot kinematics – this
remains the foundation of robotics theory today.

1967 – Japan imports the Versatran robot from AMF (the first robot imported
into Japan).

1968 – Kawasaki licenses hydraulic robot design from Unimation and starts
production in Japan.

1968 – SRI builds Shakey, a mobile robot with vision capability, controlled by
a computer the size of a room.

1970 – Professor Victor Scheinman of Stanford University designs the

Stanford Arm. Today, its kinematic configuration remains known as the
Standard Arm.

1973 – Cincinnati Milacron releases the T3, the first commercially available

1974 – Professor Victor Scheinman, developer of the Stanford Arm, forms

Vicarm Inc., to market a version of the arm for industrial applications. The new
arm is controlled by a minicomputer.

1976 – Robot arms are used in Viking 1 and 2 space probes. Vicarm Inc.
incorporates a microcomputer into the Vicarm design.

1977 – ASEA, a European robot company, offers two sizes of electric

powered industrial robots. Both robots use a microcomputer controller for
programming and operation.

1977 – Unimation purchases Vicarm Inc.

1978 – Using technology from Vicarm, Unimation develops the PUMA

(Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly). The PUMA can still be
found in many research labs today.

1978 – Brooks Automation founded

1979 – Sankyo and IBM market the SCARA ( Selective Compliant Articulated
Robot Arm) developed at Yamashi University in Japan.

1981 – Cognex founded

1981- CRS Robotics Corp. founded.

1982 – Fanuc of Japan and General Motors from joint venture in GM Fanuc to
market robots in North America.

1983 – Adept Technology founded.

1984 – Joseph Engelberger starts Transition Robotics, later renamed
Helpmates, to develop service robots.

1986 – With Uninamation license terminated, Kawasaki develops and

produces its own line of electric robots.

1988 – Staubli Group purchases Unimation from Westinghouse.

1989 – Computer Motion founded

1989 – Barrett Technology founded

1993 – Sensable Techonologies founded

1994 – CMU Robotics Institute’s Dante II, a six-legged walking robot, explores
the Mt. Spurr volcano in Alaska to sample volcanic gases.

1995 – Intuitive Surgical formed by Fred Moll, Rob Younge, and John Freud
to design and market surgical robot systems. Founding technology based on
the work at SRI, IBM and MIT.

1997 – NASA’s Mars Pathfinder mission captures the eyes and imagination of
the world as Pathfinder lands on Mars and the Sojourner rover robot sends
back images of its travel on the distant planet.

1997 – Honda showcases the P3, the 8th prototype in a humanoid design
project started in 1986.

2000 – Honda showcases Asimo, the next generation of its series of

humanoid robots.

2000 – Sony unveils humanoid robots, dubbed Sony Dream Robots (SDR), at

2001 – Sony releases second generation of its Alto robot dog

2001 – Built by MD Robotics of Canada, the Space Station Remote

Manipulator System (SSRMS) is successfully launched into orbit and begins
operations to complete assembly of International Space Station


After the technology explosion during World War II, in 1956, a historic
meeting occurs between George C. Devol, a successful inventor and
entrepreneur, and engineer Joseph F. Engelberger, over cocktails the two
discuss the writings of Isaac Asimov. Together they made a serious and
commercially successful effort to develop a real, working robot. They
persuaded Norman Schafler of Condec Corporation in Danbury that they had
the basis of a commercial success. Engelberger started a manufacturing
company 'Unimation' which stood for universal automation and so the first
commercial company to make robots was formed. Devol wrote the necessary
patents. Their first robot nicknamed the 'Unimate'.

The first Unimate was installed at a General Motors plant to work with
heated die-casting machines. Also in 1961, patent number 2,998,237 was
granted to Devol—the first U.S. robot patent. Joseph Engelberger is widely
considered the “Father of Robotics.” Since 1977, the Robotic Industries
Association has presented the annual Engelberger Robotics Awards to world
leaders in both application and leadership in the field of robotics.


An industrial robot is officially defined by ISO (Standard 8373: 1994,

Manipulating Industrial Robots – Vocabulary) as an automatically controlled,
reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more
axes. The field of industrial robotics may be more practically defined as the
study, design and use of robot systems for manufacturing ( a top-level
definition relying on the prior definition of robot). An industrial robot is a
general purpose reprogrammable machine possessing certain anthromorphic
characteristics like mechanical arm, capability of responding to sensory
inputs, to communicate with other machines, and make decision.

Industrial robots are being used more and more in many fields of
industry where they are replacing human operators engaged in onerous,
repetitive, or potentially hazardous jobs. A particular point in favor of robots is
that they can be taught to do jobs which are not amenable to automation or
mechanization n through conventional approaches.

Robot systems are certainly only one of the many possible means of
automating and simplifying the production process. They pave the way to a
qualitatively new stage of automation, namely, the development of production
systems which would require a minimum human attendance

Typical applications of industrial robots include welding, painting,

ironing, assembly, pick and place, palletizing, product inspection, and testing,
all accomplished with high endurance, speed, and precision. Manufacturers of
industrial robots include: Intelligence Actuator, Adept, Epson Robots,
Yaskawa-Motoman, ABB, EPSON-SEIKO, igm Robotersysteme, KUKA,
Kawasaki and FANUC Robotics.

One of the main advantages of industrial robots is that they can be

quickly reprogrammed to undertake tasks that differ in sequence and
character of manipulation steps. Robots are therefore most cost-effective in
conditions of frequent product changes and in automation of jobs requiring
manual unskilled labor.
One of the main causes of the intensive development of robotics is the
need to increase productivity in manufacturing. In comparison with
conventional automatic means, robots offer greater flexibility in solving
technical and organizational problems and shorten the time needed to
complete and adjust automatic systems, and put them into service.

Basic robot configurations:

A robot manipulator is generally divided into two parts, first is body-

and-arm assembly and other is wrist assembly, and it is also called end
effector. This device is either a gripper for holding a work part or a tool
performing some process.

Body-and-arm configurations

Cartesian or rectilinear configuration- Positioning is done in the

workspace with prismatic joints. This configuration is well used when a large
workspace must be covered, or when consistent accuracy is expected from
the robot.

Fig (a)

Cylindrical configuration- This robot configuration consist of a vertical

column, relative to which an arm assembly is moved up and down. The
robot has a revolute motion about a base, a prismatic joint for height, and a
prismatic joint for radius. This robot is well suited to round workspaces. The
arm can be moved in and out relative to the axis of the column.

Fig (b)
Polar or spherical configuration- Two revolute joints and one prismatic
joint allow the robot to point in many directions, and then reach out some
radial distance.

Fig (c)

Articulated or joint spherical configuration- The robot uses 3 revolute

joints to position the robot. Generally the work volume is spherical. This
robot most resembles the human arm, with a waist, shoulder, elbow, wrist.

Fig (d)

SCARA configuration- SCARA is the acronym for Selective Compliance

Robot Arm. This is similar to the joint arm or articulated arm configuration
except that the shoulder and elbow axes are vertical, which means that the
arm is very rigid in vertical direction, but compliant in the horizontal

Fig (e)

This permits the robot to perform insertion tasks for assembly in

vertical direction, where some side-to-side alignment may be needed to
mate the two parts properly.
Wrist configurations

The robots wrist is generally for the orientation of the end effector.
This usually consists of two or three degrees of freedom wrist assembly.
The three joints are defined as ROLL, PITCH and YAW. Roll is used to
accomplish rotation about the robots arm axis, whereas pitch involves up
and rotation and yaw serves the purpose of right and left rotation.

Sensors in industrial robots

Sensors and actuators are used as control system components in

industrial robots. There are two types-

Internal sensors- are those which are used for controlling position and
velocity of various joints. These sensors form a feedback control loop with
the control system. For example- potentiometers, optical encoders,

External sensors- are used to coordinate operation of the robot with other
components in the cell. They are of following types-

Tactile sensors- used to determine whether contact is made

between the sensor and the other object or not.

Proximity sensors- these indicate the distance of the object from

the sensor. It is also called Range sensor.

Optical sensor- used to detect presence or absence of objects. Also

used for proximity detection. For example- photocells.

Machine vision- used for inspection and part identification.

Other sensors- these include measuring sensors of temperature,

pressure, fluid flow, current, voltage, etc.

End effectors

These enable the robot to perform specific tasks and are

attached to the wrist of robot. There are two types-


Are the end effectors used to grasp and manipulate objects during
work cycle. The objects are usually work parts that are moved from one
place to another.
Fig (f)

There are different types of grippers according to the shapes, sizes

and weights of parts to be held. For ex- mechanical grippers, vacuum
grippers, magnetized grippers, dual, sensory multiple fingered grippers are
used according to the application.


These are used in applications where the robot must perform some
processing operation on the work part. Therefore the robot manipulates the
tool relative to stationery or slowly moving objects: Spot welding gun, arc
welding tool, spray painting gun, assembly tool, water jet cutting tool,
heating torch.In each case, the robot not only controls the relative position
of tool with respect to work piece but also controls the operation of tool. In
some applications, multiple tools are also used by the robots during the
work cycle. For ex- Several sizes of drilling bits applied to the work part.

Fig (g)
Robot programming and interfaces

The setup or programming of motions and sequences for an industrial

robot is typically taught by linking the robot controller to a laptop,
desktop computer or (internal or Internet) network.
A robot and a collection of machines or peripherals is referred to as
a workcell, or cell. A typical cell might contain a parts feeder, a molding
machine and a robot. The various machines are 'integrated' and controlled by
a single computer or PLC. How the robot interacts with other machines in the
cell must be programmed, both with regard to their positions in the cell and
synchronizing with them.

Software: The computer is installed with corresponding interface software.

The use of a computer greatly simplifies the programming process.
Specialized robot software is run either in the robot controller or in the
computer or both depending on the system design.
There are two basic entities that need to be taught (or programmed):
positional data and procedure. For example in a task to move a screw from a
feeder to a hole the positions of the feeder and the hole must first be taught or
programmed. Secondly the procedure to get the screw from the feeder to the
hole must be programmed along with any I/O involved, for example a signal to
indicate when the screw is in the feeder ready to be picked up. The purpose
of the robot software is to facilitate both these programming tasks.

Teaching the robot positions may be achieved a number of ways:

Positional commands : The robot can be directed to the required position

using a GUI or text based commands in which the required X-Y-Z position
may be specified and edited.

Teach pendant: Robot positions can be taught via a teach pendant. This is a
handheld control and programming unit. The common features of such units
are the ability to manually send the robot to a desired position, or "inch" or
"jog" to adjust a position. They also have a means to change the speed since
a low speed is usually required for careful positioning, or while test-running
through a new or modified routine. A large emergency stop button is usually
included as well. Typically once the robot has been programmed there is no
more use for the teach pendant.

Lead-by-the-nose: is a technique offered by many robot manufacturers. In

this method, one user holds the robot's manipulator, while another person
enters a command which de-energizes the robot causing it to go limp. The
user then moves the robot by hand to the required positions and/or along a
required path while the software logs these positions into memory. The
program can later run the robot to these positions or along the taught path.
This technique is popular for tasks such as paint spraying.

Offline programming :is where the entire cell, the robot and all the machines
or instruments in the workspace are mapped graphically. The robot can then
be moved on screen and the process simulated. The technique has limited
value because it relies on accurate measurement of the positions of the
associated equipment and also relies on the positional accuracy the robot
which may or may not conform to what is programmed
Others In addition, machine operators often use user interface devices,
typically touchscreen units, which serve as the operator control panel. The
operator can switch from program to program, make adjustments within a
program and also operate a host of peripheral devices that may be integrated
within the same robotic system. These include end effectors, feeders that
supply components to the robot, conveyor belts, emergency stop
controls, machine vision systems, safety interlock systems, bar code printers
and an almost infinite array of other industrial devices which are accessed
and controlled via the operator control panel.
The teach pendant or PC is usually disconnected after programming and
the robot then runs on the program that has been installed in its controller.
However a computer is often used to 'supervise' the robot and any
peripherals, or to provide additional storage for access to numerous complex
paths and routines.


As this is the era of automation and computer aided manufacturing,

industrial robots play a significant role in every aspect of manufacturing.
There are some properties of industrial robots which give them the flexibility
to work in any environment such as accuracy, repeatability, multishift
operation, easy assessment of infrequent changeovers in work cycle.

Material handling-

In this the robot moves material or parts from one place to other. To
perform this transfer it is equipped with a gripper type end effector. The
gripper design must be customized as per the requirement. There are two
cases included in this application namely material transfer and machine
loading and unloading.

Material transfer-
The basic application in this category is pick-and-place operation. Low
technology robots such as pneumatically powered are sufficient. For ex-
palletizing, stacking, insertion.

Fig (h)

Machine loading and/or unloading-

In this the robot transfers parts into and/or from a production machine.
The three possible cases are- machine loading in which robot loads parts of
the production machine. Second is machine unloading in which the raw
materials are fed to the machine without using robot and it is used to unload
finished products. While the third case is machine loading and unloading in
this both loading of the raw product and unloading of finished work parts is
done by robots

Industrial robot application of machine loading and/or unloading

included in following processes:

Die casting- the robot unloads parts from the die casting machine. Same is
done in plastic moulding.

Metal machining operations- here robots are used to load raw work piece
material to the machine tool and to unload the finished product.
Similar kind of work is done by robots in forging, press working, heat treating
and many more.

Assembly and inspection- This application may involve either the handling
of material or the manipulation of tool. These two are the labor intensive
activities traditionally and also boring and highly repetitive. Due to these
reasons, above activities are logical candidates for robotic applications.

Assembly- It involves the addition of two or more parts to form a new entity.
This is made secure by fastening two or more parts by different mechanical
fastening techniques. Because of the economic importance of assembly,
automated methods are often applied. The most appealing application for
industrial robots for assembly is where a mixture of similar products are
produced in the same work cell or assembly line.

Fig (i)

Inspection- There is often need in automated plants and assembly systems

to inspect the work that is supposed to do. This performs following functions-
Making sure that the given process is complete. Ensuring that the parts have
been added in assembly line as specified. Identifying defects in raw material
and the end products. The robot performs loading and unloading tasks to
support an inspection or testing machine. The robot also manipulates an
inspection device, as mechanical probe, to test the product. To perform
testing, the part must be presented at the workstation in the correct position
and orientation, and the robot automatically manipulates the device as

Processing applications- This application includes the use of industrial

robots in different categories like different types of welding techniques, spray
painting, various machining and other rotating spindle processes.

Welding- Perhaps the most popular applications of robots is in industrial

welding. The repeatability, uniformity quality, and speed of robotic welding is
unmatched. The two basic types of welding are spot welding and arc welding,
although laser welding is done. Some environmental requirements should be
considered for a successful operation.
Fig (j)

Robots used in spot welding are usually large, with sufficient payload
capacity to hold the heavy welding gun. Five or six axes robots are preferred.
Industrial robots are also used to automate the continuous arc welding.

Spray Coating- It makes use of spray gun directed at the object. The robots
used for this application must be capable of continuous path control. Jointed
arm robots most commonly used. The spray painting applications seems to
epitomize the proper applications of robotics, relieving the human operator
from a hazardous, albeit skillful job, while at the same time increasing work
quality, uniformity, and cutting costs.

Other processing applications- Drilling, Routing and other machining

processes, grinding, wire brushing, water jet cutting, laser cutting, riveting are
some other processing applications which are performed by the industrial
robots in manufacturing plants.

Other than these applications there are many purposes served by the
industrial robots.

Walking, running, jumping, and skipping are some of the most
sophisticated movements that occur in nature, because the feet are quiet
small and the balance at all times has to be dynamic; even standing still
requires sophisticated control. If one falls asleep on ones feet he falls over.
The human stabilizes the movement by integrating signals from:
■ Vision, which includes ground position and estimates of the fi rmness of the
ground and the coefficient of friction.

■ Proprioception, that is, knowledge of the positions of all the interacting

muscles, the forces on them and the rate of movement of the joints.
■ The vesicular apparatus, the semicircular canals used for orientation and

A very large number of muscles are used in a coordinated way to

swing legs and the muscle in an engine consisting of a power source in series
with an elastic connection. Various walking machines have been developed to
imitate human legs, but none is as efficient as those of humans. Even the
walking of four-legged animals is also highly complex and quite difficult to
reproduce. The history of interest in walking machines is quite old. But until
recently, they could not be developed extensively, because the high
computational speed required by these systems was not available earlier.
Moreover, the motors and power storage system required for these systems
are highly expensive. Nevertheless, the high usefulness of these machines
can discount on some of the cost factors and technical difficulty associated
with the making of these systems. Walking machines allow locomotion in
terrain inaccessible to other type of vehicles, since they do not need a
continuous support surface, but the requirements for leg coordination and
control impose diffi culties beyond those encountered in wheeled robots.
Some instances are in hauling loads over soft or irregular ground often with
obstacles, agricultural operations, for movements in situations designed for
human legs, such as climbing stairs or ladders. These aspects deserve great
interest and, hence, various walking machines have been developed and
several aspects of these machines are being studied theoretically.

In order to study them, different approaches may be adopted. One

possibility is to design and build a walking robot and to develop study based
on the prototype. An alternative perspective consists of the development of
walking machine simulation models that serve as the basis for the research.
This last approach has several advantages, namely lower development costs
and a smaller time for implementing the modifi cations. Due to these reasons,
several different simulation models were developed, and are used, for the
study, design, optimization, and gait analysis and testing of control algorithms
for artificial locomotion systems.


The greatest challenge in building a legged robot is its balance. There

are two ways to balance a robot body, namely static balance and dynamic

Static Balance Methods

Traditionally, stability in legged locomotion is taken to refer to static

stability. The necessity for static stability in arthropods has been used as one
of, if not the most important, reason why insects have at least six legs and use
two sets of alternating tripods of support during locomotion. Numerous
investigators have discussed the stepping patterns that insects require to
maintain static stability during locomotion. Yet, few have attempted to quantify
static stability as a function of gait or variation in body form. Research on
legged walking machines provided an approach to quantify static stability. The
minimum requirement to attain static stability is a tripod of support, as in a
stool. If an animal’s center of mass falls outside the triangle of support formed
by its three feet on the ground, it is statically unstable and will fall. In the
quasi-static gait of a robot or animal, the center of mass moves with respect to
the legs, and the likelihood of falling increases the closer the center of mass
comes to the edge of the triangle of support. In Figure 7.1 static balance is
compared between six-legged and four-legged robotic platforms.

The problem of maintaining a stable platform is considerably more

complex with four legs than it is with five, six, or more, since to maintain a
statically stable platform there must always be at least three legs on the
ground at any given time.

Hence, with only four legs a shift in the center of mass is required to
take a step.

A six-legged robot, on the other hand, can always have a stable

triangle—one that strictly contains the center of mass. In Figure 7.1 two
successive postures or steps are shown for a four- and six-legged robot. In
Figure 7.1 (a) the triangle for the fi rst posture is stable because it contains the
center of mass, but for the second posture the center of mass must be shifted
in order for the triangle to be stable. In contrast, for the six-legged robot in
Figure 7.1 (b) the center of mass can remain the same for successive
Dynamic Balance Methods

Dynamic stability analysis is required for all but the slowest

movements. It was discovered that the degree of static stability decreased as
insects ran faster, until at the highest speeds they became statically unstable
during certain parts of each stride, even when a support tripod was present.
Six- and eight-legged animals are best modeled as dynamic, spring-load,
inverted pendulums in the same way as two- and four-legged runners. At the
highest speeds, ghost crabs, cockroaches and ants exhibit aerial phases. In
the horizontal plane, insects and other legged runners are best modeled by a
dynamic, lateral leg spring, bounce centering the animal from side to side.
These models, and force and velocity measurements on animals, suggest that
running at a constant average speed, while clearly a dynamical process, is
essentially periodic in time. We define locomotor stability as the ability of
characteristic measurements (i.e., state variables such as velocities, angles,
and positions) to return to a steady state, periodic gait after a perturbation.

Robots can prosper from the aspects of animal dynamics in several


■ Robot bodies can be designed to take advantage of potential kinetic energy

transformations, and especially forward inertia.
■ Robot legs can be designed to absorb, store, and then rerelease the energy
of foot impact.

■ Robot legs can be arranged, like in the roach, to take advantage of self-
stabilizing forces, which in turn can lessen the complexity of controllers and
improve the overall stability of the devices in dynamic situations.


The scientific study of legged locomotion began just over a century ago
when Leland Stanford, then governor of California, commissioned Eadweard
Muybridge to find out whether or not a trotting horse left the ground with all
four feet at the same time. Stanford had wagered that it never did. After
Muybridge proved him wrong with a set of stopmotion photographs that
appeared in Scientific American in 1878, Muybridge went on to document the
walking and rurming behavior of over 40 mammals, including humans. His
photographic data are still of considerable value and survive as a landmark in
locomotion research. The study of machines that walk also had its origin in
Muybridge’s time. An early walking model appeared in about 1870. It used a
linkage to move the body along a straight horizontal path while the feet moved
up and down to exchange support during stepping.The linkage was originally
designed by the famous Russian mathematician Chebyshev some years
earlier. During the 80 or 90 years that followed, workers viewed the task of
building walking machines as the task of designing linkages that would
generate suitable stepping motions when driven by a source of power. Many
designs were proposed, but the performance of such machines was limited by
their fixed patterns of motion, since they could not adjust to variations in the
terrain by placing the feet on the best footholds. By the late 1950s, it had
become clear that linkages providing fixed motion would not suffice and that
useful walking machines would need control.

Milestones in the Development of Legged Robots

1850 Chebyshev Designs linkage used in early walking


Uses stop-motion photography to

document running animals.
1893 Rygg Patents human-powered mechanical

Patents hopping tank with reaction

wheals that provide stability.

Eight-legged kinematic machine

1961 Space General
walks in outdoor terrain.

Control system balances single,

1963 Cannon, Higdon and
double, and limber inverted

Simple digital logic controls walking of

1968 Frank and McGhee
Phony Pony.

Quadruped truck climbs railroad ties

1968 Mosher GE
under control of human driver.

Big Muskie, a 15,000-ton walking

1969 Bucyrus-Erie Co. dragline, is used for strip mining. ft
moves in soft terrain at a speed of
900 ft./h..

Digital computer coordinates leg

1977 McGhee
motions of hexapod walking machine.

Hybrid computer controls hexapod

1977 Gurfinkel
walker in USSR.

Human runners set new speed

records on tuned track at Harvard. Its
1977 McMahon and Greene leg.
compliance is adjusted to mechanics
of human
Quadruped machine climbs stairs and
climbs over obstacles using simple
1980 Hirose and Umetani
sensors. The leg mechanism
simplifies control.

Hydraulic biped walks with

1980 Kato
quasidynamic gait.
Mechanism balances in the plane
1980 Matsuoka
while hopping on one leg.

Walking biped balances actively in

1981 Miura and Shimoyama
three-dimensional space.

Hexapod carries human rider,

1983 Gumerland Computer, hydraulics, and human
share computing task.

Self-contained hexapod lifts and

1983 Odetics
moves back end of pickup truck.

Linkage used in early walking machines

When input crank AB rotates, the output point M moves along a

straight path during one part of the cycle and an arched path during the other
part. Two identical linkages are arranged to operate out of phase so at least
one provides a straight motion at all times. The body is always supported by
feet connected to the straight-moving linkage. Linkages of this sort, consisting
of pivots and rigid members, are a simple means of generating patterned
Mechanical Horse

This was patented by Lewis A.Rigg. The stirrups double as pedals so the rider
can power the stepping motions. The reins move the head and forelegs from
side to side for steering. Apparently this machine was never built.
Walking Truck

This machine was developed by Ralph Mosher at General Electric in about

1968. The human driver controlled the machine with four handles and pedals
that were hydraulically connected to the four legs.

Quadruped Machine
Design for Three-Dimensional Hopping Machine

Basic terms used in Robotics

Accuracy - This is determined by the resolution of the workspace. If the robot
is commanded to travel to a point in space, it will often be off by some
amount, the maximum distance should be considered the accuracy. This is an
effect of a control system that is not necessarily continuous.

Control Resolution - This is the smallest change that can be measured by

the feedback sensors, or caused by the actuators, whichever is larger. If a
rotary joint has an encoder that measures every 0.01 degree of rotation, and
a direct drive servo motor is used to drive the joint, with a resolution of 0.5
degrees, then the control resolution is about 0.5 degrees (the worst case can
be 0.5+0.01).

Coordinates - The robot can move, therefore it is necessary to define

positions. Note that coordinates are a combination of both the position of the
origin and orientation of the axes.
Degree of Freedom -Each joint on the robot introduces a degree of freedom.
Each degree of freedom can be a slider, rotary, or other type of actuator.
Robots typically have 5 or 6 degrees of freedom. 3 of the degrees of freedom
allow positioning in 3D space, while the other 2or 3 are used for orientation of
the end effector. 6 degrees of freedom are enough to allow the robot to reach
all positions and orientations in 3D space. 5 degrees of freedom requires a
restriction to 2D space, or else it limits orientations. 5 degrees of freedom
robots are commonly used for handling tools such as arc welders. It is usually
the same as the number of axes.

Numbers of axes – two axes are required to reach any point in a plane; three
axes are required to reach any point in space. To fully control the orientation
of the end of the arm (i.e. the wrist) three more axes are required. Some
designs (e.g. the SCARA robot) trade limitations in motion possibilities for
cost, speed, and accuracy.

Links and Joints - Links are the solid structural members of a robot, and
joints are the movable couplings between them.


There are five types of joints

1) linear joint [type L]
2) orthogonal joints [type O]
3) rotational joint [type R]
4) twisting joint [type T]
5) revolving joint [type V]

Orientation Axes - Basically, if the tool is held at a fixed position, the

orientation determines which direction it can be pointed in. Roll, pitch and yaw
are the common orientation axes used. Looking at the figure below it will be
obvious that the tool can be positioned at any orientation in space.
Fig (2)

Position Axes - The tool, regardless of orientation, can be moved to a

number of positions in space. Various robot geometries are suited to different
work geometries.

Payload - The payload indicates the maximum mass the robot can lift before
either failure of the robots, or dramatic loss of accuracy. It is possible to
exceed the maximum payload, and still have the robot operate, but this is not
advised. When the robot is accelerating fast, the payload should be less than
the maximum mass. This is affected by the ability to firmly grip the part, as
well as the robot structure, and the actuators. The end of arm tooling should
be considered part of the payload.

Fig (4)

Repeatability- The robot mechanism will have some natural variance in it.
This means that when the robot is repeatedly instructed to return to the same
point, it will not always stop at the same position. Repeatability is considered
to be +/-3 times the standard deviation of the position, or where 99.5% of all
repeatability measurements fall. This figure will vary over the workspace,
especially near the boundaries of the workspace, but manufacturers will give
a single value in specifications.

Settling Time - During a movement, the robot moves fast, but as the robot
approaches the final position is slows down, and slowly approaches. The
settling time is the time required for the robot to be within a given distance
from the final position.

Speed - refers either to the maximum velocity that is achievable by the TCP,
or by individual joints. This number is not accurate in most robots, and will
vary over the workspace as the geometry of the robot changes (and hence
the dynamic effects). The number will often reflect the maximum safest speed
possible. Some robots allow the maximum rated speed (100%) to be passed,
but it should be done with great care.

Work envelope/Workspace - The robot tends to have a fixed and limited

geometry. The work envelope is the boundary of positions in space that the
robot can reach. For a Cartesian robot (like an overhead crane) the
workspace might be a square, for more sophisticated robots the workspace
might be a shape that looks like a `clump of intersecting bubbles.

Tool Centre Point (TCP) - The tool centre point is located either on the robot,
or the tool. Typically the TCP is used when referring to the robots position, as
well as the focal point of the tool. (E.g. the TCP could be at the tip of a
welding torch) The TCP can be specified in Cartesian, cylindrical, spherical,
etc. coordinates depending on the robot. As tools are changed we will often
reprogram the robot for the TCP. Fig (4)

Fig (3)