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# Defining parameters

• Number 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 (yaw, pitch, and roll) are required.
Some designs (e.g. the SC! ro"ot) trade limitations in motion possi"ilities for
cost, speed, and accuracy.
• Degrees of freedom which is usually the same as the num"er of axes.
• Working envelope – the region of space a ro"ot can reach.
• Kinematics – the actual arrangement of rigid mem"ers and #oints in the ro"ot,
which determines the ro"ot\$s possi"le motions. Classes of ro"ot %inematics
include articulated, cartesian, parallel and SC!.
• Carrying capacity or payload – how much weight a ro"ot can lift.
• Speed – how fast the ro"ot can position the end of its arm. This may "e defined in
terms of the angular or linear speed of each axis or as a compound speed i.e. the
speed of the end of the arm when all axes are mo&ing.
• Acceleration ' how quic%ly an axis can accelerate. Since this is a limiting factor a
ro"ot may not "e a"le to reach its specified maximum speed for mo&ements o&er
a short distance or a complex path requiring frequent changes of direction.
• Accuracy – how closely a ro"ot can reach a commanded position. (hen the
a"solute position of the ro"ot is measured and compared to the commanded
position the error is a measure of accuracy. ccuracy can "e impro&ed with
external sensing for example a &ision system or )nfra'!ed. See ro"ot cali"ration.
ccuracy can &ary with speed and position within the wor%ing en&elope and with
• Repeatability ' how well the ro"ot will return to a programmed position. This is
not the same as accuracy. )t may "e that when told to go to a certain *'+',
position that it gets only to within - mm of that position. This would "e its
accuracy which may "e impro&ed "y cali"ration. .ut if that position is taught into
controller memory and each time it is sent there it returns to within /.-mm of the
taught position then the repeata"ility will "e within /.-mm.
ccuracy and repeata"ility are different measures. !epeata"ility is usually the most
important criterion for a ro"ot and is similar to the concept of \$precision\$ in measurement
' see ccuracy and precision. )S0 1234
546
sets out a method where"y "oth accuracy and
repeata"ility can "e measured. Typically a ro"ot is sent to a taught position a num"er of
times and the error is measured at each return to the position after &isiting 7 other
positions. !epeata"ility is then quantified using the standard de&iation of those samples
in all three dimensions. typical ro"ot can, of course ma%e a positional error exceeding
that and that could "e a pro"lem for the process. 8oreo&er the repeata"ility is different in
different parts of the wor%ing en&elope and also changes with speed and payload. )S0
1234 specifies that accuracy and repeata"ility should "e measured at maximum speed and
at maximum payload. .ut this results in pessimistic &alues whereas the ro"ot could "e
much more accurate and repeata"le at light loads and speeds. !epeata"ility in an
industrial process is also su"#ect to the accuracy of the end effector, for example a
gripper, and e&en to the design of the \$fingers\$ that match the gripper to the o"#ect "eing
grasped. 9or example if a ro"ot pic%s a screw "y its head the screw could "e at a random
angle. su"sequent attempt to insert the screw into a hole could easily fail. These and
similar scenarios can "e impro&ed with \$lead'ins\$ e.g. "y ma%ing the entrance to the hole
tapered.
• otion control – for some applications, such as simple pic%'and'place assem"ly,
the ro"ot need merely return repeata"ly to a limited num"er of pre'taught
positions. 9or more sophisticated applications, such as welding and finishing
(spray painting), motion must "e continuously controlled to follow a path in
space, with controlled orientation and &elocity.
• !ower source – some ro"ots use electric motors, others use hydraulic actuators.
The former are faster, the latter are stronger and ad&antageous in applications
such as spray painting, where a spar% could set off an explosion; howe&er, low
internal air'pressurisation of the arm can pre&ent ingress of flamma"le &apours as
well as other contaminants.
• Drive – some ro"ots connect electric motors to the #oints &ia gears; others connect
the motor to the #oint directly (direct drive). :sing gears results in measura"le
\$"ac%lash\$ which is free mo&ement in an axis. Smaller ro"ot arms frequently
employ high speed, low torque ;C motors, which generally require high gearing
ratios; this has the disad&antage of "ac%lash. )n such cases the harmonic dri&e is
often used.
• Compliance ' this is a measure of the amount in angle or distance that a ro"ot axis
will mo&e when a force is applied to it. .ecause of compliance when a ro"ot goes
to a position carrying its maximum payload it will "e at a position slightly lower
than when it is carrying no payload. Compliance can also "e responsi"le for
o&ershoot when carrying high payloads in which case acceleration would need to
"e reduced.
 Robot programming and interfaces
0ffline programming "y !0.C;
typical well'used teach pendant with optional mouse
The setup or programming of motions and sequences for an industrial ro"ot is typically
taught "y lin%ing the ro"ot controller to a laptop, des%top computer or (internal or
)nternet) networ%.
ro"ot and a collection of machines or peripherals is referred to as a wor%cell, or cell.
typical cell might contain a parts feeder, a molding machine and a ro"ot. The &arious
machines are \$integrated\$ and controlled "y a single computer or <=C. >ow the ro"ot
interacts with other machines in the cell must "e programmed, "oth with regard to their
positions in the cell and synchroni?ing with them.
Software" The computer is installed with corresponding interface software. The use of a
computer greatly simplifies the programming process. Speciali?ed ro"ot software is run
either in the ro"ot controller or in the computer or "oth depending on the system design.
There are two "asic entities that need to "e taught (or programmed)@ positional data and
procedure. 9or example in a tas% to mo&e a screw from a feeder to a hole the positions of
the feeder and the hole must first "e taught or programmed. Secondly the procedure to get
the screw from the feeder to the hole must "e programmed along with any )A0 in&ol&ed,
for example a signal to indicate when the screw is in the feeder ready to "e pic%ed up.
The purpose of the ro"ot software is to facilitate "oth these programming tas%s.
Teaching the ro"ot positions may "e achie&ed a num"er of ways@
!ositional commands The ro"ot can "e directed to the required position using a B:) or
text "ased commands in which the required *'+', position may "e specified and edited.
#eac\$ pendant" !o"ot positions can "e taught &ia a teach pendant. This is a handheld
control and programming unit. The common features of such units are the a"ility to
manually send the ro"ot to a desired position, or CinchC or C#ogC to ad#ust a position. They
also ha&e 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. large emergency
stop "utton is usually included as well. Typically once the ro"ot has "een programmed
there is no more use for the teach pendant.
%ead&by&t\$e&nose is a technique offered "y many ro"ot manufacturers. )n this method,
one user holds the ro"ot\$s manipulator, while another person enters a command which de'
energi?es the ro"ot causing it to go limp. The user then mo&es the ro"ot "y hand to the
required positions andAor along a required path while the software logs these positions
into memory. The program can later run the ro"ot to these positions or along the taught
path. This technique is popular for tas%s such as paint spraying.
'ffline programming is where the entire cell, the ro"ot and all the machines or
instruments in the wor%space are mapped graphically. The ro"ot can then "e mo&ed on
screen and the process simulated. The technique has limited &alue "ecause it relies on
accurate measurement of the positions of the associated equipment and also relies on the
positional accuracy the ro"ot which may or may not conform to what is programmed (see
accuracy and repeata"ility, a"o&e).
't\$ers )n addition, machine operators often use user interface de&ices, typically
touchscreen units, which ser&e as the operator control panel. The operator can switch
from program to program, ma%e ad#ustments within a program and also operate a host of
peripheral de&ices that may "e integrated within the same ro"otic system. These include
end effectors, feeders that supply components to the ro"ot, con&eyor "elts, emergency
stop controls, machine &ision systems, safety interloc% systems, "ar code printers and an
almost infinite array of other industrial de&ices which are accessed and controlled &ia the
operator control panel.
The teach pendant or <C is usually disconnected after programming and the ro"ot then
runs on the program that has "een installed in its controller. >owe&er a computer is often
used to \$super&ise\$ the ro"ot and any peripherals, or to pro&ide additional storage for
 End-of-arm Tooling
The most essential ro"ot peripheral is the end effector, or end'of'arm'tooling (D0T).
Common examples of end effectors include welding de&ices (such as 8)B'welding guns,
spot'welders, etc.), spray guns and also grinding and de"urring de&ices (such as
pneumatic dis% or "elt grinders, "urrs, etc.), and grippers (de&ices that can grasp an
o"#ect, usually electromechanical or pneumatic). nother common means of pic%ing up
an o"#ect is "y &acuum. Dnd effectors are frequently highly complex, made to match the
handled product and often capa"le of pic%ing up an array of products at one time. They
may utili?e &arious sensors to aid the ro"ot system in locating, handling, and positioning
products.
 Controlling Movement
9or a gi&en ro"ot the only parameters necessary to completely locate the end effector
(gripper, welding torch, etc.) of the ro"ot are the angles of each of the #oints or
displacements of the linear axes (or com"inations of the two for ro"ot formats such as
SC!). >owe&er there are many different ways to define the points. The most common
and most con&enient way of defining a point is to specify a Cartesian coordinate for it,
i.e. the position of the \$end effector\$ in mm in the *, + and , directions relati&e to the
ro"ot\$s origin. )n addition, depending on the types of #oints a particular ro"ot may ha&e,
the orientation of the end effector in yaw, pitch, and roll and the location of the tool point
relati&e to the ro"ot\$s faceplate must also "e specified. 9or a #ointed arm these coordinates
must "e con&erted to #oint angles "y the ro"ot controller and such con&ersions are %nown
as Cartesian Transformations which may need to "e performed iterati&ely or recursi&ely
for a multiple axis ro"ot. The mathematics of the relationship "etween #oint angles and
actual spatial coordinates is called %inematics. See ro"ot control
<ositioning "y Cartesian coordinates may "e done "y entering the coordinates into the
system or "y using a teach pendant which mo&es the ro"ot in *'+', directions. )t is
much easier for a human operator to &isuali?e motions upAdown, leftAright, etc. than to
mo&e each #oint one at a time. (hen the desired position is reached it is then defined in
some way particular to the ro"ot software in use, e.g. <- ' <E "elow.
 Typical Programming
8ost articulated ro"ots perform "y storing a series of positions in memory, and mo&ing
to them at &arious times in their programming sequence. 9or example, a ro"ot which is
mo&ing items from one place to another might ha&e a simple \$pic% and place\$ program
similar to the following