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**Joint Limit Using a Continuous Task
**

Transition Algorithm

Hyejin Han

1

and Jaeheung Park

1, 2,

1

Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea

2

Advanced Institutes for Convergence Technology, Republic of Korea

park73@snu.ac.kr

Abstract When robots are controlled in the task space,

singularities and joint limits are among the most critical

and difﬁcult issues that can arise. In this paper, we propose

a new approach for the robots to operate in the regions

near singularities and joint limits using the operational

space control framework. Speciﬁcally, a continuous task

transition algorithm called the intermediate desired value

approach is applied to the hierarchically structured

controller in the operational space control framework. In

this approach, new tasks are deﬁned for dealing with

singularities and joint limits, and the tasks are activated or

deactivated using the continuous task transition algorithm

to guarantee the continuous execution of the tasks during

the execution of the main task. The proposed approach is

implemented on a 6-DOF manipulator called Roman-MD.

The experimental results demonstrate its performance

near the singular regions and joint limits.

Keywords Joint Limit Avoidance, Singularity, Operational

Space Control, Task Transition

1. Introduction

The workspace of robots is limited by singularities and

joint limits. When robots are controlled by task space

Figure 1. When robots operate in a human environment they

can encounter singularities and joint limits during the execution of

their tasks.

control algorithms, it is necessary to handle singularities

and joint limits during the execution of tasks so as to

perform the tasks successfully (Figure 1) [1].

There have been various approaches to operating robots

near singularities and joint limits in task space control. To

deal with singularities in the kinematic control, a damped

least-square inverse Jacobian matrix was proposed to

Hyejin Han and Jaeheung Park: Robot Control near Singularity and Joint

Limit Using a Continuous Task Transition Algorithm

1

www.intechopen.com

International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems

ARTICLE

www.intechopen.com

Int. j. adv. robot. syst., 2013, Vol. 10, 346:2013

1 Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea

2 Advanced Institutes for Convergence Technology, Republic of Korea

* Corresponding author E-mail: park73@snu.ac.kr

Received 29 Dec 2012; Accepted 31 May 2013

DOI: 10.5772/56714

∂ 2013 Han and Park; licensee InTech. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative

Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use,

distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Hyejin Han

1

and Jaeheung Park

1,2,*

Robot Control near Singularity

and Joint Limit Using a Continuous

Task Transition Algorithm

Regular Paper

resolve the singularity problem [2–4]. It provided an

approximate solution when the robot was close to a

singular position. Later, the transpose of the Jacobian was

used instead of the inverse, which also approximates the

solution [5, 6]. In addition, a redundancy-control method

based on a task-priority strategy was proposed as a means

of kinematic control [7–9]. This approach allows robots to

move near or even pass through singular conﬁgurations.

Moreover, a method is proposed to control the robot to

stop and switch its controller when it is detected that

the robot is near a singular region in a kinematic control

scheme [10, 11]. On the other hand, there have been few

studies on this issue in the framework of operational space

control. Some of the solutions were speciﬁcally designed

for the singularity types on PUMA560 robots [12, 13].

Meanwhile, to overcome the problem of joint limits, a

method was proposed based on a weighted least norm

solution for a redundant robot in the kinematic control [14,

15]. The weighted least norm solution was also compared

with the gradient projection approach [16], showing that

the weighted least norm method can avoid unnecessary

self-motion and oscillation when the correct magnitude of

self-motion is used. In line with redundancy resolution

algorithm, quadratic programming (QP) methods have

been proposed in the kinematic control [17] and the

QP-based dynamical system approach has been developed

[18].

For the operational space control framework, a typical

solution is to use the classical potential ﬁeld approach [19].

However, it is often difﬁcult to select appropriate gains

because the selection depends on the conﬁguration and the

controller of the existing tasks. Moreover, it was pointed

out that the potential ﬁeld methods have some problems

such as local minimum and oscillations [20–22].

A solution for dealing with unilateral constraints,

including both singularity and joint limit, was proposed

for the kinematic control [23, 24], which modiﬁes the

null-space projection matrices for continuous control law

during the transition among multiple tasks. This approach

was further developed to be applied in the operational

space control framework [25]. Similarly, a method

using continuous null space projections was proposed for

torque-controlled robots [26]. Both of the methods are

based on the modiﬁcation of the null space projection

matrix and limited in the use of multiple hierarchical

structures.

Recently, a task transition approach called the intermediate

desired approach was proposed to deal with task

transition among multiple tasks in kinematic control [27]

and was further developed to be used in the operational

space control framework [28]. This approach is different

from the previously mentioned approaches [25, 29] in that

the desired values are modiﬁed while the control structure

remains the same. Additionally, multiple constraints

and tasks can be performed with multiple levels of

priorities, which is important when dealing with joint limit

avoidance, singularities and tasks in different priorities.

In this paper, the problems of singularity and joint limit

avoidance are resolved by this intermediate desired value

approach in the operational space control framework.

The main contribution of this paper compared to our

previous works is that the present study provides

complete details pertaining to issues relating to singularity

and joint limit tasks during the implementation of the

intermediate desired value approach in the operational

space while also demonstrating its feasibility via its

performance on a physical robot.

The main idea of using the intermediate desired value

approach when dealing with singularities and joint

limits is ﬁrst to deﬁne the tasks corresponding to the

singularities and joint limits, and then to insert or

remove these tasks while the main task of the robot

is executed. The intermediate desired value approach

provides a smooth transition among multiple tasks with

or without a hierarchy. Speciﬁcally, constraint tasks, such

as joint-limit-avoidance tasks, are provided with high

priority over the primary task in order to conduct tasks

accurately and to maintain uninterrupted transitions with

a continuous task transition algorithm.

This approach is implemented both in simulation and on

a physical robot which is a 6-DOF manipulator called

Roman-MD. In the experiments of joint limit avoidance,

the proposed approach is compared with the potential

ﬁeld approach [19]. Then, the operation of the robot is

demonstrated approaching near singularity and coming

back to the initial position. Finally, the control of the robot

is performed in the conﬁguration near both joint limit and

singularity.

The paper is organized as follows. First, the task transition

algorithm in the operational space control framework

is summarized in Section 2. Second, stability during

transitions is discussed in Section 3. Singularity and

joint limit avoidance using the task transition algorithm

are presented in Section 4 and 5, respectively. The

experimental results are plotted and discussed in Section

6. The paper is concluded in Section 7.

2. Continuous Task Transition Approach

We approach the problems of handling singularities and

joint limits by applying a continuous transition algorithm

[27]. In the following sub-sections, we ﬁrst recall a

hierarchical control structure in the operational space

control framework and then introduce a continuous task

transition approach.

2.1. Hierarchical Control Structure

When a robot is controlled in the operational space control

framework, the task space dynamics is described as

follows: [30]

Λ

t

¨ x

t

+µ

t

+p

t

= F

t

, (1)

and

Λ

t

= (J

t

A

−1

J

T

t

)

−1

µ

t

= Λ

t

(J

t

A

−1

b −

˙

J

t

˙ q)

p

t

= Λ

t

J

t

A

−1

g.

(2)

Here, q, A, b and g are the vectors of the joint angles, the

joint space mass/inertia matrix, the Coriolis/centrifugal

Int. j. adv. robot. syst., 2013, Vol. 10, 346:2013 2

www.intechopen.com

torque, and the gravity torque, respectively. The terms

J

t

, Λ

t

, µ

t

, p

t

and F

t

are the Jacobians corresponding to

the task x

t

, the task space inertia matrix, the vector of

Coriolis/centrifugal forces, the vector of gravity forces,

and the control force for this task. The control torque for

control of the task can then be composed using the task

dynamics [30].

Γ

t

= J

T

t

F

t

= J

T

t

{Λ

t

f

∗

t

+µ

t

+p

t

}

= J

T

t

Λ

t

{f

∗

t

+η

t

+ζ

t

} = J

T

t

Λ

t

˜

f

t

,

(3)

and

η

t

= Λ

−1

t

µ

t

, ζ

t

= Λ

−1

t

p

t

. (4)

In these equations, f

∗

t

is the control input for the unit mass

system for the task x

t

.

At this point, when the robot has a constraint task, such as

a joint limit avoidance task, we consider the constraint task

as x

c

and the primary task as x

t

in a hierarchical structure.

In other words, the command torque for the primary task

is controlled in the null space of the constraint task as

follows [30],

Γ = Γ

constraint

+Γ

task

= J

T

c

F

c

+ N

T

c

Γ

t

= J

T

c

F

c

+ N

T

c

(J

T

t

F

t

)

(5)

N

T

c

= I − J

T

c

¯

J

T

c

¯

J

T

c

= A

−1

J

T

c

Λ

c

(6)

where J

c

and J

t

are the Jacobians corresponding to the

constraint and primary tasks, respectively. The matrix

¯

J

c

is the dynamically consistent inverse of the Jacobian J

c

.

The terms F

c

and F

t

are the control forces corresponding

to x

c

and x

t

, respectively. The term N

T

c

is the null space

projection matrix of the constraint task. The dynamics in

the constraint and task space can then be derived [30]:

Λ

c

¨ x

c

+µ

c

+p

c

= F

c

(7)

Λ

t|c

¨ x

t

+µ

t|c

+p

t|c

= F

t

(8)

where

Λ

t|c

= (J

t

N

c

A

−1

N

T

c

J

T

t

)

−1

µ

t|c

= Λ

t|c

(J

t

A

−1

b −

˙

J

t

˙ q)

p

t|c

= Λ

t|c

J

t

A

−1

g.

(9)

Using the equations of motion in the constraint and task

spaces, the control forces F

c

and F

t

can be formulated as

follows:

F

c

= Λ

c

f

∗

c

+µ

c

+p

c

= Λ

c

˜

f

c

(10)

F

t

= Λ

t|c

f

∗

t

+µ

t|c

+p

t|c

= Λ

t|c

˜

f

t

. (11)

If the two equations are combined, the control torque for

the hierarchical task set is

Γ = J

T

c

Λ

c

˜

f

c

+ N

T

c

J

T

t

Λ

t|c

˜

f

t

. (12)

When a constraint with a high priority is added or

removed, the torque command switches between (3) and

(12). The task transition approach is introduced in the next

section to resolve the issue of a discontinuity in such cases.

2.2. Task Transition Approach for both Prioritized Tasks and

Non-prioritized Tasks

The continuous task transition algorithm known as

the intermediate desired value approach is applied for

a smooth transition when new tasks are inserted or

removed. A joint limit avoidance task, for example, can be

created with a high priority level while a primary existing

task is executed. Therefore, we can revise equation (12) by

applying the intermediate desired value approach.

In addition, for dealing with singularity, some parts of

an existing task can be selected for removal, in which

case the task removal or insertion transition is at the same

hierarchical level as the existing task. Moreover, we need

an algorithm to deal with operations that avoid both joint

limits and singularities simultaneously.

For one typical example, we consider the execution of one

constraint task with two tasks with equal priorities: x

c

,

x

t1

and x

t2

. By applying the intermediate desired value

approach, the term

˜

f

c

is modiﬁed to

˜

f

i

c

as follows:

Γ = J

T

c

Λ

c

˜

f

i

c

+ N

T

c

J

T

t

Λ

t|c

˜

f

i

t

(13)

where

J

t

=

J

t1

J

t2

,

˜

f

i

t

=

˜

f

i

t1

˜

f

i

t2

(14)

and

N

T

c

= I − J

T

c

¯

J

T

c

Λ

−1

t|c

= J

t

N

c

A

−1

N

T

c

J

T

t

.

(15)

The intermediate values are deﬁned by

˜

f

i

c

= h

c

˜

f

c

+ (1 − h

c

)J

c

A

−1

Γ

∗

[/c]

˜

f

i

t1

= h

t1

˜

f

t1

+ (1 − h

t1

)J

t1

A

−1

Γ

∗

[/t1]

˜

f

i

t2

= h

t2

˜

f

t2

+ (1 − h

t2

)J

t2

A

−1

Γ

∗

[/t2]

.

(16)

These equations provide a continuous transition among

prioritized tasks when the task x

c

is inserted at a higher

priority. The activation parameters h

c

, h

t1

and h

t2

change

from 0 to 1 continuously for a smooth transition when the

task is inserted, whereas they change to 0 when the task

is removed. The term Γ

∗

[/n]

denotes the torque input using

the intermediate desired value excluding the n task:

Γ

∗

[/c]

= J

T

t

Λ

t

˜

f

i

t

(17)

where

˜

f

i

t1

= h

t1

˜

f

t1

+ (1 − h

t1

)J

t1

A

−1

J

T

t2

h

t2

Λ

t2

˜

f

t2

˜

f

i

t2

= h

t2

˜

f

t2

+ (1 − h

t2

)J

t2

A

−1

J

T

t1

h

t1

Λ

t1

˜

f

t1

.

(18)

In the equations above, in order to compute Γ

∗

[/c]

, we need

to consider task x

t1

and x

t2

, which have the same priority

level. On the other hand, in the cases of Γ

∗

[/t1]

and Γ

∗

[/t2]

, we

take into account task transitions with priority. Therefore,

Γ

∗

[/t1]

can be computed as

Γ

∗

[/t1]

= J

T

c

Λ

c

˜

f

i

c

+ N

T

c

J

T

t2

Λ

t2|c

˜

f

i

t2

(19)

where

˜

f

i

c

= h

c

˜

f

c

+ (1 − h

c

)J

c

A

−1

J

T

t2

h

t2

Λ

t2

˜

f

t2

˜

f

i

t2

= h

t2

˜

f

t2

+ (1 − h

t2

)J

t2

A

−1

J

T

c

h

c

Λ

c

˜

f

c

.

(20)

Hyejin Han and Jaeheung Park: Robot Control near Singularity and Joint

Limit Using a Continuous Task Transition Algorithm

3

www.intechopen.com

3. Stability During Transition

The proposed approach uses the operational space control

framework with a hierarchical structure having priorities.

The control structure is not modiﬁed in this approach, so

the controlled system is stable if not in transition. The

modelling uncertainties may affect the performance of the

system, but these are mostly overcome by the feedback

on the unit-mass system in the operational space control

framework.

Now, the stability during transition is discussed in this

section. The intermediate desired value approach is

applied to the control inputs

˜

f

c

and

˜

f

t

in (12), which

correspond to constraint and task. During transition, the

intermediate desired values of the control inputs,

˜

f

i

c

and

˜

f

i

t

, are computed using (16). Each intermediate desired

value of the control input in (16) is composed of two parts:

the control input of the constraint or task itself and the

effect from the control of other constraints or tasks. They

are scaled down by h

c

or h

t

, and (1 − h

c

) or (1 − h

t

),

respectively. As the activation parameter decreases, the

control of the constraint or task itself diminishes. That

is, the DOF of the system used for the control of the

corresponding constraint or task is gradually used by the

other constraints or tasks.

Considering this constitution of the sub-systems, their

stability depend on each controller with the control input

of the constraint or task itself. In this paper, a PD control

is designed for each sub-system, which behaves as a

unit mass system by using the operational space control

framework if not in transition [31]. The proportional and

derivative gains can be chosen to have critically damped

responses for each unit mass system. Then, when the task

is in transition, the effect of using the activation parameters

is to decrease the proportional and derivative gains with

the same ratio. Therefore, the response of each system in

transition becomes over-damped with a lower bandwidth.

Since the system becomes over-damped, the system is still

stable with the comprised bandwidth of the task.

4. Joint Limit Avoidance

As stated in the Introduction section, there has been much

research on implementing stable operation near joint limits

or on avoiding joint limits. The task transition approach

can also be very effective in the application of a joint

limit avoidance scheme in the operational space control

framework.

We need to manage the robot so that it moves within

the range of joint movement while the main task x

t

is

performed. This can be accomplished by inserting a joint

limit avoidance task as a new task with a higher priority

level than the other tasks when one of the joints comes

close to its lower or upper joint limits. We set the joint

limit buffer regions considering each joint limit, and a new

task of avoiding the joint limit is created within this buffer

region considering the range of joint motion [27]. In this

buffer region, we treat the formation and destruction of

joint limit avoidance task as cases of task insertion and

removal, respectively. Consequently, we need a smooth

task transition during the performance of these tasks.

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1

-0.8 0 0.6 0.8

A

c

t

i

v

a

t

i

o

n

p

a

r

a

m

e

t

e

r

[

h

]

Joint angle(rad)

-0.6

Activation

bufer

Activation

bufer

Lower limit Upper limit

Figure 2. The activation parameter for a joint limit avoidance

task.

Considering the task of avoiding the joint limit, the torque

command is computed as

Γ = J

T

jl

Λ

jl

˜

f

i

jl

+N

T

jl

Γ

t

(21)

where

˜

f

i

jl

= h

jl

˜

f

jl

+ (1 −h

jl

)J

jl

A

−1

J

T

t

Λ

t

˜

f

t

Γ

t

= J

T

t

Λ

t|jl

˜

f

t

.

(22)

In these equations, J

jl

, F

jl

and N

T

jl

are the Jacobian, the

control force for joint limit avoidance, and its null-space

projection matrix, respectively, while Γ

t

is the torque for

the main task. For example, if the fourth joint is in the

buffer region of its joint limit, J

jl

is deﬁned as follows for a

6-DOF manipulator:

J

jl

= [0 0 0 1 0 0] (23)

Moreover, to maintain smooth operation while the

joint limit avoidance task is active or inactive, the

activation parameter of the joint limit avoidance task

varies continuously between 0 and 1 as a function of

the corresponding joint angle. The activation parameter

increases as the corresponding joint angle approaches the

joint limit. In this experiment, the activation function

in an earlier study [27] is used, as plotted in Figure

2. Speciﬁcally, the activation function h

i

is designed as

follows:

h

i

=

1.0, if q

i

≥ q

i

f (q

i

), if q

i

< q

i

< q

i

0.0, if q

i

≤ q

i

≤ q

i

g(q

i

), if q

i

< q

i

< q

i

1.0, if q

i

≤ q

i

(24)

and

f (q

i

) = 0.5 + 0.5sin

π

β

(q

i

− q

i

) −

π

2

g(q

i

) = 0.5 + 0.5sin

π

β

(q

i

−q

i

) +

π

2

.

(25)

The ith joint angle, q

i

, is constrained by the lower limit

q

i

and the upper limit q

i

, and β denotes the size of the

activation buffer

q

i

= q

i

− β

q

i

= q

i

+ β.

(26)

Int. j. adv. robot. syst., 2013, Vol. 10, 346:2013 4

www.intechopen.com

On the other hand, the activation parameter for the primal

task is maintained at 1 throughout the execution of the task

because it is always fully activated.

The size of the buffer region can be determined depending

on the speciﬁc task. If the size is large, the transition

will be more smoothly conducted. However, the normal

workspace would be smaller and the transition time would

be longer. The size is set to approximately 10% of the joint

range, 0.15rad, in this experiment.

Note that the dimension of the Jacobian for the joint

limit depends on how many joints are in the buffer

region. The activation parameters for each joint limit task,

which correspond to each row in J

jl

, have different values

because the joints are at different points in their buffer

regions. For example, if the ﬁrst and fourth joints are

in transition for a 6-DOF robot, we have two joint limit

avoidance tasks x

jl1

and x

jl2

at the same priority level. The

Jacobian can be formulated as follows:

J

jl

=

J

jl1

J

jl2

(27)

where

J

jl1

= [1 0 0 0 0 0]

J

jl2

= [0 0 0 1 0 0] .

(28)

The transitions among these joint limit avoidance tasks

can be regarded as non-prioritized tasks in equation (13).

Above all, the joint limit avoidance task x

jl

needs to have

a higher priority than the primal task x

t

.

5. Singularity Avoidance

In this section, we discuss the implementation of

singularity avoidance using the intermediate desired value

approach in the operational space control framework. The

idea is to deactivate the task along the singular direction

near the singularity. The singular value decomposition

(SVD) is used on the inverse of the task space inertia

matrix to identify the singular directions and to deﬁne

the task associated with it. The activation parameter for

continuous transition is designed to change based on the

singular value which is lower than a certain threshold.

First, singularity is constantly monitored by the singular

value decomposition (SVD) of the inverse of the inertia

matrix of the primary task x

t

.

Λ

−1

t

= J

t

A

−1

J

T

t

= U

t

Σ

t

U

T

t

(29)

Here, Σ

t

is a diagonal matrix with singular values, and U

t

is a rotation matrix [30, 32].

When one of the singular values is less than a threshold,

the corresponding direction is considered as a singular

direction. Therefore, U

t

is decomposed into two parts:

U

ns

for non-singular directions and U

s

for the singular

direction.

U

t

= [U

ns

U

s

] (30)

The primary task x

t

is then decomposed into two tasks as

follows:

x

t,ns

= U

T

ns

x

t

and x

t,s

= U

T

s

x

t

(31)

The corresponding Jacobians are deﬁned as

J

t,ns

= U

T

ns

J

t

and J

t,s

= U

T

s

J

t

. (32)

Accordingly, task x

t,ns

and task x

t,s

are at the same priority

level and the control torque is computed as

Γ = J

T

t

Λ

t

˜

f

i

t

(33)

where

J

t

=

J

t,ns

J

t,s

,

˜

f

i

t

=

˜

f

i

t,ns

˜

f

i

t,s

(34)

and

˜

f

i

t,ns

= h

t,ns

˜

f

t,ns

+ (1 − h

t,ns

)J

t,ns

A

−1

J

T

t,s

h

t,s

Λ

t,s

˜

f

t,s

˜

f

i

t,s

= h

t,s

˜

f

t,s

+ (1 − h

t,s

)J

t,s

A

−1

J

T

t,ns

h

t,ns

Λ

t,ns

˜

f

t,ns

.

(35)

In the following experiment of controlling the end-effector

as a main task, the orientation task is given a higher

priority level than the position. This is because the

singular values and the corresponding directions have

more intuitive physical meaning when the position and

orientation tasks are separately considered [33]. Thus, it

is proper to divide the tasks initially into two main parts:

the position and the orientation.

Herein, a hierarchical structure, which is similar to

a constraint-task structure, is applied and the task of

controlling the end-effector is divided into two parts (13).

The subscripts o and p indicate the orientation task and

the position task, respectively. When the singular direction

comes up from the position task, the control torque can be

formulated as

Γ = J

T

o

Λ

o

˜

f

i

o

+N

T

o

J

T

p

Λ

p|o

˜

f

i

p

(36)

where

J

p

=

J

p,ns

J

p,s

,

˜

f

i

p

=

˜

f

i

p,ns

˜

f

i

p,s

(37)

and

˜

f

i

o

= h

o

˜

f

o

+ (1 − h

o

)J

o

A

−1

Γ

∗

[/o]

˜

f

i

p,ns

= h

p,ns

˜

f

p,ns

+ (1 − h

p,ns

)J

p,ns

A

−1

Γ

∗

[/p,ns]

˜

f

i

p,s

= h

p,s

˜

f

p,s

+ (1 − h

p,s

)J

p,s

A

−1

Γ

∗

[/p,s]

.

(38)

The activation parameter for task x

t,ns

is kept at 1 because

we want to execute the task fully along the non-singular

direction. Thus, task x

t,s

along the singular direction is

activated or deactivated by the activation parameter which

is designed as a function of the corresponding singular

value. The activation parameter for the singular value

starts with 1 at the threshold value and then decreases

as the singular value decreases such that the control of

the task in that direction will be progressively deactivated.

One example of such an activation parameter is plotted in

Figure 3, where the threshold is set to 0.02 and decreases

until the value reaches 0.01. These values and the shape of

the function can be designed by considering the physical

intuition of the inertial property of the manipulator.

Hyejin Han and Jaeheung Park: Robot Control near Singularity and Joint

Limit Using a Continuous Task Transition Algorithm

5

www.intechopen.com

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1

0.01 0.012 0.014 0.016 0.018 0.02

A

c

t

i

v

a

t

i

o

n

p

a

r

a

m

e

t

e

r

[

h

]

Singular value[σ]

Threshold region

Figure 3. The activation parameter of the singular direction task

is designed as a function of the singular value by singular value

decomposition (SVD)

At this point, when we consider both a joint limit and a

singularity simultaneously, the joint limit avoidance task

has a higher priority. Moreover, as already stated, task x

t

is initially decomposed into the orientation task x

o

and the

position task x

p

when singularity avoidance is considered.

Hence, the order of task priorities is the joint limit, the task

for orientation control x

o

, and then the position control

task x

p

:

Γ = Γ

i

jl

+Γ

i

o

+Γ

i

p

(39)

where

Γ

i

jl

= J

T

jl

Λ

jl

˜

f

i

jl

Γ

i

o

= (J

o

N

jl

)

T

Λ

o|jl

˜

f

i

o

Γ

i

p

= (J

p

N

o|jl

N

jl

)

T

Λ

p|o|jl

˜

f

i

p

(40)

and

J

p

=

J

p,ns

J

p,s

,

˜

f

i

p

=

˜

f

i

p,ns

˜

f

i

p,s

. (41)

The intermediate values are deﬁned as follows:

˜

f

i

jl

= h

jl

˜

f

jl

+ (1 − h

jl

)J

jl

A

−1

Γ

∗

[/jl]

˜

f

i

o

= h

o

˜

f

o

+ (1 − h

o

)J

o

A

−1

Γ

∗

[/o]

˜

f

i

p,ns

= h

p,ns

˜

f

p,ns

+ (1 − h

p,ns

)J

p,ns

A

−1

Γ

∗

[/p,ns]

˜

f

i

p,s

= h

p,s

˜

f

p,s

+ (1 − h

p,s

)J

p,s

A

−1

Γ

∗

[/p,s]

.

(42)

6. Experimental Results

The proposed approach was implemented on a 6-DOF

manipulator called Roman-MD (Figure 4). The robot is

controlled using software called RoboticsLab [34]. The

servo rate was set to 500 Hz when reading the encoders

and sending the torque commands to the motors. In the

following experiments, the control input for the tasks is

composed by PD control.

f

∗

= k

p

(x

d

−x) −k

v

˙ x, (43)

where x

d

, x and ˙ x are the desired value, the current

state and the derivative of the current state of the

task. The terms k

p

and k

v

are the proportional and

derivative feedback gains, respectively. Because each task

becomes a unit mass system using the nonlinear feedback

Figure 4. Joint conﬁguration of Roman-MD and the Cartesian

coordinates of a robot system.

linearization by the operational space control framework,

the gains can be selected based on the task speciﬁcations.

In this paper, the closed-loop frequency and damping ratio

were chosen as 20.0 rad/sec and 1.0, respectively, to be a

critically damped system. The gains k

p

and k

v

are then

400.0 and 40.0 because it is a unit mass system.

6.1. Joint Limit Avoidance Task

In this experiment, the position of the end-effector is

controlled to move to the lower-right direction and come

back to the initial position while the orientation of the

end-effector is controlled to be the initial orientation, as

illustrated in Figure 5. The ﬁrst joint limit avoidance task

is inserted while the positioning task is performed.

In order to avoid the joint limit, the activation parameter of

the ﬁrst joint increases at around three seconds, as the ﬁrst

joint enters its joint limit buffer region, as shown in Figure

6.

In this experiment, the upper and lower limits for all joints

are set to 0.78rad and −0.78rad, respectively. These chosen

values are smaller than necessary to show the performance

of the proposed algorithm effectively. Furthermore, the

size of the buffer region is 0.15rad, and the activation

parameter in Figure 2 is used.

The experiment demonstrates that the joint limit task is

activated and deactivated without any abrupt change in

the control of the end-effector (Figure 7). The position

of the robot cannot be controlled as desired when the

constraint task of joint limit avoidance is activated.

In the next experiment, we compared the potential ﬁeld

approach and the proposed task transition approach for

joint limit avoidance through the simulation using the

6-DOF manipulator. The control input f

i

using the

potential ﬁeld approach [19] is,

f

i

=

η

1

ρ

i

−

1

ρ

i(0)

1

ρ

2

i

, if ρ

i

≤ ρ

i(0)

0.0, if ρ

i

> ρ

i(0)

−η

1

ρ

i

−

1

ρ

i(0)

1

ρ

2

i

, if ρ

i

≤ ρ

i(0)

0.0, if ρ

i

> ρ

i(0)

(44)

where

ρ

i

= q

i

− q

i

ρ

i

= q

i

− q

i

.

(45)

Int. j. adv. robot. syst., 2013, Vol. 10, 346:2013 6

www.intechopen.com

Figure 5. Snapshots from the joint limit avoidance experiment.

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

J

o

i

n

t

a

n

g

l

e

(

r

a

d

)

A

c

t

i

v

a

t

i

o

n

p

a

r

a

m

e

t

e

r

[

h

]

-0.3

-0.2

-0.1

0

0.1

0.2

0.3

J

o

i

n

t

v

e

l

o

c

i

t

y

(

r

a

d

/

s

)

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

0

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

0.8

0

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

0.8

Time(s)

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Activation

bufer

q = 0.63 rad

Figure 6. Joint velocity, joint angle and activation parameter of

the ﬁrst joint during the joint limit avoidance experiment.

0

0.02

0.04

0.06

0.08

0.1

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

X

(

m

)

desired x

actual x

0.27

0.28

0.29

0.3

0.31

0.32

0.33

Y

(

m

)

desired y

actual y

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

0.28

0.3

Z

(

m

)

Time(s)

desired z

actual z

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Figure 7. Plots of end-effector position during the joint limit

avoidance experiment.

Figure 8. Simulation: execution of the joint limit task using

the potential ﬁeld approach and the proposed continuous control

approach.

0.04

0.06

0.08

0.1

0.12

0.14

0.16

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Y

(

m

)

desired y

actual y

-0.8

-0.7

-0.6

-0.5

-0.4

-0.3

-0.2

-0.1

J

o

i

n

t

a

n

g

l

e

(

r

a

d

)

0.5

0.52

0.54

0.56

0.58

0.6

0.62

Z

(

m

)

Time(s)

desired z

actual z

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Figure 9. Fourth joint angle and end-effector position during the

joint limit avoidance simulation using the potential ﬁeld approach.

Here, ρ

i(0)

and ρ

i(0)

are the distance limit of the potential

ﬁeld inﬂuence. The ith joint angle is q

i

, and q

i

and q

i

represent the lower limit and the upper limit.

In this simulation, the desired position is set out of the joint

range. While the task is performed, the fourth joint reaches

its limit buffer region (Figure 8). In the case of the potential

ﬁeld approach, the constant gain η was chosen as 0.5, and

the distances ρ

i(0)

and ρ

i(0)

are 0.08 and -0.08, respectively.

As shown in Figure 9 and Figure 10, the potential ﬁeld

approach, in comparison with the proposed approach, can

easily cause oscillation and instability unless the gains are

carefully tuned. Although the oscillatory response of the

potential ﬁeld approach shown in this experiment can be

improved by changing the parameters of η and ρ

i(0)

at

the speciﬁc conﬁguration, it is not easy to ﬁnd suitable

values for all the conﬁgurations of the robot [21, 22].

The oscillatory and unstable response is shown in this

experiment to point out the typical problem of using the

potential ﬁeld approach in the application of joint limit

avoidance.

Hyejin Han and Jaeheung Park: Robot Control near Singularity and Joint

Limit Using a Continuous Task Transition Algorithm

7

www.intechopen.com

Accordingly, this step can only be carried out if the

matching procedure was already performed for the ﬁrst

error image. Therefore, only areas that were not removed

during the ﬁrst matching procedure are extended by

corresponding areas of the subsequent error images.

Otherwise, the noise (falsely detected areas) would cause

an enlargement of incorrectly detected areas. The red short

dashed rectangles in Figure 8 mark 2 examples of such

corresponding areas. Resulting areas that are too large

are removed from the error images I

n

and I

n+1

. This is

indicated by the areas in the right lower corner of error

image I

n

in Figure 8. As can be seen, the resulting error

image I

n

from Figure 8 is used as input (error image I

n

) in

Figure 7. Without the extension of the areas, the midmost

candidate in Figure 7 would have been rejected.

As some real moving objects are sometimes not detected

in an error image as a result of an inaccurate optical ﬂow

calculation or (radial) distortion, the temporal matching

would fail. This could already be the case if only one

area in one error image is missing. Thus, candidates that

were detected once in 3 temporal succeeding error images

and 4 greyscale images (original images), respectively, are

stored for a sequence of 3 error images subsequent to the

image where the matching was successful, cf. Figure 9(a).

Their coordinates are updated for the succeeding error

images by using the optical ﬂow data. As a consequence,

they can be seen as candidates for moving objects in

the succeeding images, but they are not used within the

matching procedure as input. If within this sequence

of images a corresponding area is found again, it is

stored for a larger sequence of images (more than 3) and

its coordinates are updated for every succeeding error

image. The number of sequences depends on the following

condition:

ξ =

c+¯ c

c−¯ c

| c = ¯ c

2¯ c | c = ¯ c,

(13)

where c is the number of found corresponding areas and

¯ c is the number of missing corresponding areas for one

candidate starting with the image where the candidate

was found again. If ξ < 0 ∨ ξ > 10, the candidate is

rejected. Moreover, the candidate is no longer stored if it

was detected again in 3 temporal succeeding images. In

this case, it is detected during the matching procedure.

An example concerning to this procedure is shown in

Figure 9(b). As one can imagine, error image I

n

in

Figure 9(a) is equivalent (except area-extension) to I

n+1

in Figure 7, whereas error image I

n

in Figure 9(b) is

equivalent to I

n+2

in Figure 9(a).

For a further processing of the data, only the position

(shown as small black crosses in the left lower corners of

the rectangles in Figures 7 and 9) and size of the rectangles

marking the candidates are of relevance. Thus, for every

error image the afore mentioned information is stored

for candidates that were detected during the matching

procedure, for candidates that were detected up to 3 error

images before and for candidates that were found again

(see above). On the basis of this data, candidates that are

very close to each other are combined and candidates that

are too large are rejected.

Using Actual

Optical Flow F

n

Using Subsequent

Optical Flow F

n+1

Actual Error Ìmage Ì

n

Subsequent Error Ìmage Ì

n+1

y

x

Error Ìmage Ì

n+2

(a)

Using Actual

Optical Flow F

n

Using Subsequent

Optical Flow F

n+1

Actual Error Ìmage Ì

n

Subsequent Error Ìmage Ì

n+1

y

x

Error Ìmage Ì

n+2

(b)

Figure 9. Preventing rejection of candidates for moving objects that were detected only in a few sequences. (a) Storage of candidates

for which a further matching fails. These candidates are marked by a blue dotdashed rectangle. The green dashed rectangle marks a

candidate for which a corresponding area was found again and the red short-dashed rectangle marks a candidate with successful matching.

(b) Storage of candidates for which a corresponding area was found again. The 2 areas drawn with transparency in error image I

n

indicate

the position of the candidates, but they are not part of the error image.

-0.8

-0.7

-0.6

-0.5

-0.4

-0.3

-0.2

-0.1

J

o

i

n

t

a

n

g

l

e

(

r

a

d

)

0.04

0.06

0.08

0.1

0.12

0.14

0.16

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Y

(

m

)

desired y

actual y

0.5

0.52

0.54

0.56

0.58

0.6

0.62

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Z

(

m

)

Time(s)

desired z

actual z

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Figure 10. Fourth joint angle and end-effector position during

the joint limit avoidance simulation using the intermediate desired

value approach.

6.2. Handling Singularity

The experiment of controlling the robot near singularity is

presented in this section. As noted in Section 5, the robot

can deal with singularities by deactivating the task along

the singular direction.

In this experiment, the end-effector is commanded to move

from the upper-right to the lower-left position and come

back to the initial position (Figure 11). The position of

the end-effector cannot reach the desired position exactly

because the deactivated direction is not fully controlled.

The activation parameter of the task is designed as

a function of the singular value by singular value

decomposition (SVD), and the buffer of the singular values

is identical to that plotted in Figure 3.

Figure 12 and Figure 13 show the data plots from this

experiment. The activation parameter for the singular

direction starts to decrease at σ = 0.02 (around 4 seconds)

and the positioning task becomes smoothly deactivated

along the singular direction. Because the singular direction

is on the y-z plane, the position in the z-direction does not

follow the desired position trajectory when the position

task in the singular direction is in transition region.

Figure 11. Experiment of the singularity avoidance.

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1

A

c

t

i

v

a

t

i

o

n

p

a

r

a

m

e

t

e

r

[

h

]

0.004

0.008

0.012

0.016

0.02

0.024

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Time(s)

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

S

i

n

g

u

l

a

r

v

a

l

u

e

[

σ

]

Threshold region

σ = 0.02

σ < 0.02

σ = 0.02

Figure 12. Activation parameter and singular value during the

experiment of handling singularity.

0.16

0.20

0.24

0.28

0.32

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Y

(

m

)

desired y

actual y

0.18

0.20

0.22

0.24

0.26

0.28

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Z

(

m

)

Time(s)

desired z

actual z

Figure 13. Plots of position y and position z during the experiment

of handling singularity.

6.3. Joint Limit and Singularity Avoidance

In this section, related to Section 5, the case is

demonstrated in which both the joint limit and singularity

are handled when controlling the end-effector of the robot

as a primary task. As shown in Figure 14, the position of

the end-effector is commanded to move toward the desired

position and come back to the initial position.

As shown in Figure 15, when the singular value enters

the buffer region at approximately three seconds, the

activation parameter for the singular direction decreases

according to the activation function of the singular value

as designed. Approximately 1 second later, the task of

avoiding the fourth joint limit is added to the commanding

Figure 14. Joint limit and singularity avoidance experiment.

Int. j. adv. robot. syst., 2013, Vol. 10, 346:2013 8

www.intechopen.com

0.009

0.012

0.015

0.018

0.021

0.024

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

S

i

n

g

u

l

a

r

v

a

l

u

e

[

σ

]

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1

A

c

t

i

v

a

t

i

o

n

p

a

r

a

m

e

t

e

r

[

h

]

Time(s)

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Threshold

region

σ = 0.02 σ = 0.02

σ < 0.02

σ > 0.02 σ > 0.02

Figure 15. Singular value and activation parameter of

the singular direction when the robot is controlled near both

singularity and joint limit.

-0.6

-0.4

-0.2

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

J

o

i

n

t

a

n

g

l

e

(

r

a

d

)

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1

A

c

t

i

v

a

t

i

o

n

p

a

r

a

m

e

t

e

r

[

h

]

Time(s)

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Activation

bufer

q = 0.63 rad

Figure 16. Joint angle and activation parameter of the second

joint when the robot is controlled near both singularity and joint

limit.

0.33

0.36

0.39

0.42

0.45

0.48

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Y

(

m

)

desired y

actual y

0.3

0.33

0.36

0.39

0.42

0.45

0.48

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Z

(

m

)

Time(s)

desired z

actual z

Figure 17. Position of the end-effector when the robot is

controlled near both singularity and joint limit.

task, as shown in Figure 16. The position of the

end-effector during the experiment is plotted in Figure 17.

It should be noted that the position of the end-effector

did not follow the desired trajectory completely near

singularity and joint limit. The proposed algorithm

executed the primary task of controlling the end-effector

without abrupt change in motion near the singularity

while avoiding the joint limit.

7. Conclusion

In this paper, we propose a control strategy for dealing

with singularities and joint limits using the intermediate

desired value approach in the operational space control

framework. The intermediate desired value approach

in the operational space control framework enables an

effective and stable transition when tasks are inserted

and removed. Controlling the robot near singularity is

implemented by deactivating the task along the singular

direction. In addition, the transition algorithm is

effectively applied to both the insertion and the removal

of the joint limit task with a hierarchical control structure.

The experimental results demonstrate that the robot is

successfully controlled when it approaches its joint limits

and a singular region using the proposed approach. The

proposed approach in this paper demonstrated the robot

operation with only motion tasks. Our future work is

directed toward generalizing this control approach to deal

with tasks involving both motion and contact so that it can

be used in robot-environment interaction.

8. Acknowledgement

This work was sponsored by the Basic Science Research

Program (no.2010-0005799) and by the Global Frontier

R&D Program on <Human-centered Interaction for

Coexistence> funded by the National Research

Foundation of Korea grant funded by the Korean

Government(MSIP) (no.2011-0032014).

9. References

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Limit Using a Continuous Task Transition Algorithm

9

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by Aurel GS

When robots are controlled in the task space,
singularities and joint limits are among the most critical and difficult issues that can arise.

When robots are controlled in the task space,

singularities and joint limits are among the most critical and difficult issues that can arise.

singularities and joint limits are among the most critical and difficult issues that can arise.

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