Method for kinematic calibration of Stewart platforms
A Stewart platform is a six degrees of freedom parallel manipulator composed of six variable-length legs connecting a fixed base to a movable plate. Like all parallel manipulators, Stewart platforms offer high force/torque capability and high structural rigidity in exchange for small workspace and reduced dexterity. Because the solution for parallel manipulators' forward kinematics is in general much harder than their inverse kinematics, a typical control strategy for such manipulators is to specify the plate's pose in world coordinates and then solve the individual leg lengths. The accuracy of the robot critically depends on accurate knowledge of the device's kinematic parameters. This article focuses on the accuracy improvement of Stewart platforms by means of calibration. Calibration of Stewart platforms consists of construction of a kinematic model, measurement of the position and orientation of the platform in a reference coordinate frame, identification of the kinematic parameters, and accuracy compensation. A measurement procedure proposed in this article allows a great simplification of the kinematic identification. The idea is to keep the length of the particular leg, whose parameters are to be identified, fixed while the other legs change their lengths during the measurement phase. By that, redundant parameters can be eliminated systematically in the identification phase. The method also shows the estimation of each leg's parameters separately because the measurement equations are fully decoupled, which results in a drastical reduction of the computational effort in the parameter identification. Simulation results assess the performance of the proposed approach.(Author abstract)
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