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Singularities

The American National Standard for Industrial Robots and Robot Systems — Safety
Requirements (ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999) defines a singularity as “a condition caused by the
collinear alignment of two or more robot axes resulting in unpredictable robot motion and
velocities.” It is most common in robot arms that utilize a “triple-roll wrist”. This is a wrist about
which the three axes of the wrist, controlling yaw, pitch, and roll, all pass through a common
point. An example of a wrist singularity is when the path through which the robot is traveling
causes the first and third axes of the robot’s wrist (i.e. robot's axes 4 and 6) to line up. The
second wrist axis then attempts to spin 180° in zero time to maintain the orientation of the end
effector. Another common term for this singularity is a “wrist flip”. The result of a singularity
can be quite dramatic and can have adverse effects on the robot arm, the end effector, and the
process. Some industrial robot manufacturers have attempted to side-step the situation by slightly
altering the robot’s path to prevent this condition. Another method is to slow the robot’s travel
speed, thus reducing the speed required for the wrist to make the transition. The ANSI/RIA has
mandated that robot manufacturers shall make the user aware of singularities if they occur while
the system is being manually manipulated.

A second type of singularity in wrist-partitioned vertically articulated six-axis robots occurs
when the wrist center lies on a cylinder that is centered about axis 1 and with radius equal to the
distance between axes 1 and 4. This is called a shoulder singularity. Some robot manufacturers
also mention alignment singularities, where axes 1 and 6 become coincident. This is simply a
sub-case of shoulder singularities. When the robot passes close to a shoulder singularity, joint 1
spins very fast.

The third and last type of singularity in wrist-partitioned vertically articulated six-axis robots
occurs when the wrist's center lies in the same plane as axes 2 and 3.

Singularities are closely related to the phenomena of gimbal lock, which has a similar root cause
of axes becoming lined up.

A video illustrating these three types of singular configurations is available here.[9]

The SCARA acronym stands for Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm or Selective Compliance
Articulated Robot Arm.

move down one inch. Payload: The maximum payload is the amount of weight carried by the robot manipulator at reduced speed while maintaining rated precision. also called the robot’s hand or end-effector. Nominal payload is measured at maximum speed while maintaining rated precision. The difference between the point that a robot is trying to achieve and the actual resultant position. Provides terminal emulation and utility functions. to execute the following motion sequence: Move down one inch. Reach: The maximum horizontal distance from the center of the robot base to the end of its wrist. This program can record all of the user memory. move up one inch. while repeatability is the cycle-to-cycle variation of the manipulator arm when aimed at the same point.Articulated Robot: An articulated robot uses all the three revolute joints to access its work space. Continuous Path: A control scheme whereby the inputs or commands specify every point along a desired path of motion. Absolute accuracy is the difference between a point instructed by the robot control system and the point actually achieved by the manipulator arm. grasp a rated payload. ungrasp. so that one joint supports another further in the chain. and return to start location. The resolution of any joint is a function of encoder pulses per revolution and drive ratio. Robot Program: A robot communication program for IBM and compatible personal computers. Gripper: A device for grasping or holding. and some of the system memory to disk files. in seconds. Repeatability: See Figure. move up one inch. These ratings are highly dependent on the size and shape of the payload. . Accuracy: See Figure. The cycle-to-cycle error of a system when trying to perform a specific task Resolution: The smallest increment of motion or distance that can be detected or controlled by the control system of a mechanism. Usually the joints are arranged in a “chain”. and dependent on the distance between the tool center point and the joint axis. defined by the number of axes of motion of the manipulator. The path is controlled by the coordinated motion of the manipulator joints. Pick And Place Cycle: See Figure. Degrees Of Freedom (DOF): The number of independent motions in which the end effector can move. attached to the free end of the last manipulator link. The ability of a system or mechanism to repeat the same motion or achieve the same points when presented with the same control signals. move across twelve inches. Pick and place Cycle is the time.

 Speed – how fast the robot can position the end of its arm. and accuracy. the SCARA robot) trade limitations in motion possibilities for cost. pitch. . Some designs (e. and roll) are required. To fully control the orientation of the end of the arm(i. three axes are required to reach any point in space. When the absolute position of the robot is measured and compared to the commanded position the error is a measure of accuracy.Maximum Speed: The compounded maximum speed of the tip of a robot moving at full extension with all joints moving simultaneously in complimentary directions.  Acceleration – how quickly an axis can accelerate. Servo Controlled: Controlled by a driving signal which is determined by the error between the mechanism's present position and the desired output position. speed.g. the best indicator of achievable cycle time is a physical simulation.  Working envelope – the region of space a robot can reach. also known as reach envelope. Work Envelope: A three-dimensional shape that defines the boundaries that the robot manipulator can reach. See robot calibration. This may be defined in terms of the angular or linear speed of each axis or as a compound speed i. A better measure of real world speed is the standard twelve inch pick and place cycle time. Classes of robot kinematics include articulated. parallel and SCARA.e. via points are programmed in order to move beyond obstacles or to bring the arm into a lower inertia posture for part of the motion. the wrist) three more axes (yaw. This speed is the theoretical maximum and should under no circumstances be used to estimate cycle time for a particular application.  Accuracy – how closely a robot can reach a commanded position. Since this is a limiting factor a robot may not be able to reach its specified maximum speed for movements over a short distance or a complex path requiring frequent changes of direction.  Number of axes – two axes are required to reach any point in a plane.  Degrees of freedom – this is usually the same as the number of axes.  Kinematics – the actual arrangement of rigid members and joints in the robot. Accuracy can be improved with external sensing for example a vision system or Infra-Red.  Carrying capacity or payload – how much weight a robot can lift. which determines the robot's possible motions. Accuracy can vary with speed and position within the working envelope and with payload (see compliance). cartesian. the speed of the end of the arm when all axes are moving. For critical applications.e. Via Point: A point through which the robot's tool should pass without stopping.

ISO 9283 [8] sets out a method whereby both accuracy and repeatability can be measured.1mm of the taught position then the repeatability will be within 0. Repeatability in an industrial process is also subject to the accuracy of the end effector. Because of compliance when a robot goes to a position carrying its maximum payload it will be at a position slightly lower than when it . motion must be continuously controlled to follow a path in space. A typical robot can. But if that position is taught into controller memory and each time it is sent there it returns to within 0. where a spark could set off an explosion. But this results in pessimistic values whereas the robot could be much more accurate and repeatable at light loads and speeds.  Compliance . It may be that when told to go to a certain X-Y-Z position that it gets only to within 1 mm of that position. Repeatability is then quantified using the standard deviation of those samples in all three dimensions. of course make a positional error exceeding that and that could be a problem for the process. the screw could be at a random angle. The former are faster. however. for example a gripper. This would be its accuracy which may be improved by calibration. This is not the same as accuracy. the latter are stronger and advantageous in applications such as spray painting. For more sophisticated applications. A subsequent attempt to insert the screw into a hole could easily fail. which generally require high gearing ratios.1mm. others connect the motor to the joint directly (direct drive). Typically a robot is sent to a taught position a number of times and the error is measured at each return to the position after visiting 4 other positions. others use hydraulic actuators. this has the disadvantage of backlash. Using gears results in measurable 'backlash' which is free movement in an axis. In such cases the harmonic drive is often used.this is a measure of the amount in angle or distance that a robot axis will move when a force is applied to it. such as simple pick-and-place assembly. For example. Repeatability is usually the most important criterion for a robot and is similar to the concept of 'precision' in measurement—see accuracy and precision. Smaller robot arms frequently employ high speed. and even to the design of the 'fingers' that match the gripper to the object being grasped. the robot need merely return repeatably to a limited number of pre-taught positions.g. the repeatability is different in different parts of the working envelope and also changes with speed and payload. low torque DC motors. These and similar scenarios can be improved with 'lead-ins' e.  Power source – some robots use electric motors. such as welding and finishing (spray painting). if a robot picks a screw by its head. Accuracy and repeatability are different measures.  Drive – some robots connect electric motors to the joints via gears.  Repeatability – how well the robot will return to a programmed position.  Motion control – for some applications. with controlled orientation and velocity. Moreover. low internal air- pressurisation of the arm can prevent ingress of flammable vapours as well as other contaminants. ISO 9283 specifies that accuracy and repeatability should be measured at maximum speed and at maximum payload. by making the entrance to the hole tapered.

Compliance can also be responsible for overshoot when carrying high payloads in which case acceleration would need to be reduced.is carrying no payload. .