Ph.D., Colorado State University, May 2021
Major Professor: Anthony A. Maciejewski
Kinematically redundant robots have extra degrees of freedom so that they can tolerate a joint failure and still complete an assigned task. Previous work has defined the “failure-tolerant workspace” as the workspace that is guaranteed to be reachable both before and after an arbitrary locked-joint failure. One mechanism for maximizing this workspace is to employ optimal artificial joint limits prior to a failure. This dissertation presents two techniques for determining these optimal artificial joint limits. The first technique is based on the gradient ascent method. The proposed technique is able to deal with the discontinuities of the gradient that are due to changes in the boundaries of the failure tolerant workspace. This technique is illustrated using two examples of three degree-of-freedom planar serial robots. The first example is an equal link length robot where the optimal artificial joint limits are computed exactly. In the second example, both the link lengths and artificial joint limits are determined, resulting in a robot design that has more than twice the failure-tolerant area of previously published locally optimal designs. The second technique presented in this dissertation is a novel hybrid technique for estimating the failure-tolerant workspace size for robots of arbitrary kinematic structure and any number of degrees of freedom performing tasks in a 6D workspace. The method presented combines an algorithm for computing self-motion manifold ranges to estimate workspace envelopes and Monte-Carlo integration to estimate orientation volumes to create a computationally efficient algorithm. This algorithm is then combined with the coordinate ascent optimization technique to determine optimal artificial joint limits that maximize the size of the failure-tolerant workspace of a given robot. This approach is illustrated on multiple examples of robots that perform tasks in 3D planar and 6D spatial workspaces.