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Ethan Stump

e-mail: estump@grasp.upenn.edu

Vijay Kumar
e-mail: kumar@cis.upenn.edu GRASP Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Pensylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Workspaces of Cable-Actuated Parallel Manipulators

This paper develops analytical techniques to delineate the workspace boundaries for parallel mechanisms with cables. In such mechanisms, it is not only necessary to solve the closure equations but it is also essential to verify that equilibrium can be achieved with non-negative actuator (cable) forces. We use tools from convex analysis and linear algebra to derive closed-form expressions for the workspace boundaries and illustrate the applications using planar and spatial examples. DOI: 10.1115/1.2121741


There is extensive literature on parallel manipulators going back to the early work on the Cauchy-Gough-Stewart platform 1,2. The book by Merlet 3 provides an excellent review. Much of this literature addresses the kinematic geometry of parallel manipulators and the kinematics of closed chain mechanisms. However, the design of cable driven platforms has received considerably less attention despite their attractive features such as scalability. Albus et al. developed a six degrees-of-freedom robot crane design based around a parallel platform driven by cables 4. Roberts et al. addressed the kinematic analysis of such systems by presenting a numerical approach for testing whether a given conguration lies within the reachable workspace 5. In his thesis, Verhoeven explored a similar technique and incorporated tension constraints 6. Verhoeven and Hiller developed a method for nding closed-form expressions of the conservative bounds for the controllable workspace 7. Oh and Agrawal used a numerical approach similar to Roberts et al. to develop and test a numerically optimized controller for planning and executing movements 8. Takeda and Funabashi addressed the question of synthesizing such mechanisms to optimize force transmission characteristics 9. In this paper,1 we build on this work by explicitly delineating the reachable workspace for a cable-driven parallel platform. Unlike 5,8, in which the workspace is numerically computed, we derive limiting conditions that allow us to compute closed-form expressions for the boundary of the reachable workspace. In the planar case, the closed-form expressions obtained are identical to those found by Gouttefarde and Gosselin using alternative geometric arguments regarding the boundaries of such a workspace 11. We illustrate this computation for both a planar parallel manipulator with four actuators, representing our earlier work 10, as well as more general spatial cases and a cable version of the well-studied octahedral conguration for a Cauchy-GoughStewart platform. This work is similar in spirit to work done by Bosscher and Ebert-Uphoff 12. However, while their work also involves characterizing the space spanned by the available wrench vectors of the robot, they focus on whether this wrench-closure workspace encompasses a given bounded set of possible loads. Despite the attractiveness of this type of analysis, it is difcult to compute in more complicated systems since the possible interactions between the bounded loads and the boundaries of the available wrench set become more numerous and complicated.
1 Excerpts from this manuscript appeared in the ASME DETC 2004 conference. The conference paper 10 developed results for the planar case. Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received May 10, 2005; nal manuscript received July 25, 2005. Review conducted by: Madhu Raghavan.

It is worth noting that the kinematic analysis of platforms driven by cables is similar to the analysis of multingered manipulation in the robotics literature 13,14. The equilibrium equations with inequalities on cable tensions are similar to the equations of equilibrium for the grasped object with constraints on nger forces. The static and kinematic analysis of such systems can be reduced to semidenite programs 15. A survey of some of the recent work in semidenite programming is available in 16. The paper is organized as follows. In the next section, we develop the basic equations that characterize the kinematic closure and equilibrium equations. In Sec. 3, we describe two important results due to Farkas and Stiemke that are relevant to solving linear systems of equations with non-negativity constraints. We then establish two key results for the existence of solutions to such systems. In Sec. 4, we illustrate the results using familiar planar and spatial examples. Section 5 contains a discussion of extensions to the theory, and Sec. 6 provides concluding remarks.


Consider a planar platform held in place by four cables, as shown in Fig. 1. Each cable joins the cable connection on the platform to the cable anchor in the xed work frame. In this gure, ai represents the vector location of the cable anchor for the ith cable expressed in the world coordinate frame, pi represents the vector location of the cable connection for the ith cable expressed in the body-xed frame of the platform. Once a transformation between the two frames is written, the position of the ith cable connection can be expressed in the world frame as d and

then hi = ai bi is the vector representing the direction of the tension force along each cable. The equations of motion for this system can be written as one vector equation

2w 3w 43x4 1w T 4x1 = b 3x1 w

i are unit-length wrench vectors describing the effect where the w of the cable forces and calculated about the spatial origin 0 in Fig. 1. The vector b is the load wrench which represents external force possibly including inertial forces, and T is the vector of the cable tensions. If the coordinate transformation is parametrized by an x and y translation and a rotation, then each wrench can be found as JANUARY 2006, Vol. 128 / 159

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i= w where the normalizing term is

1 1 i = w Ni Ni

aix x pixcos + piysin aiy y piycos pixsin aiyx aixy + aiy pixcos aix piycos aix pixsin aiy piysin

Ni = aix x pixcos + piysin 2 + aiy y piycos pixsin 2

Such an expression can also be written for spatial systems. If the coordinate transformation is expressed as a rotation matrix R and a displacement x, then each wrench vector can be written as i= w hi 1 hi h i d i

i ai Rp x 1 i x ai Rpi x Rpi + x ai Rp

3 Each of these wrench vectors has three translational and three i are spatial components. In their normalized form, each of the w actually the representation of the cable line in Plcker coordinates. If cables are added to the system, additional columns will be added to the wrench matrix and the tension vector will scale accordingly.

Problem Formulation

For the theoretical development, we present two approaches to the analysis of our platform system: one based around convex analysis and the exploration of systems of inequalities, the other based on direct system solution techniques. Both analysis methods reduce to one general test for establishing the existence of solutions to Eq. 1, namely, testing the signs of various minors of the coefcient matrix. 3.1 Convex Analysis. The outwardly simple solution to Eq. 1 is complicated by one important facet of this problem: Only positive tensions are possible. The updated problem statement is = b, T0 WT 4 where the symbol denotes that ti 0 for each component ti of T. Likewise, the symbol would denote that ti 0 for each component of T. Farkas Lemma 17 establishes conditions for the existence of solutions to Eq. 4. = b, T 0 has no Lemma 3.1 (Farkas Lemma): The system WT

solution if and only if q such that WT q 0 and bT q 0. The geometric interpretation of this lemma is to consider q as the normal vector of a separating hyperplane. This hyperplane separates the convex cone formed by positive combinations of the wrench vectors that make up W from the point dened by b. Intuitively, this condition makes sense; the convex cone formed by the wrench vectors is the space of all possible vectors that , T 0. If b does not belong to this set, as could be formed by WT demonstrated by the separating hyperplane, then no solution can exist. Note that this separation is strict; if b were to lie on the hyperT plane, then b q = 0 and a solution to the rst system exists according to the lemma. It is also possible to interpret q as a twist vector with the appropriate ordering. There is no solution to the system of equations if and only if there is a platform twist such that the cable forces wrenches do positive work on the twist but the load wrench does negative work on the twist. See 18 for a discussion of unilateral wrenches and reciprocity. 0. This could arise in the planar Now consider the case when b = platform case when gravity is orthogonal to the motion of the platform. The problem now looks like = 0, T0 WT 5

Now, the second system in Farkas Lemma will never have a q = 0 0. Therefore Eq. 5 always has a solusolution because bT 0. tion. Unfortunately, this can always be the trivial solution T = Practically speaking, this is unacceptable since it is impossible to move a platform from one point to another with zero tension. Consider a restatement of the problem = 0, T0 WT 6

Fig. 1 General planar platform geometry

To handle this case, Stiemkes Lemma is available 19: = 0 , Lemma 3.2 (Stiemkes Lemma): The system WT T 0 has T T q 0 and W q 0. no solution if and only if q such that W Again, the geometric interpretation is to consider q as the normal vector of a hyperplane. In this case, however, the hyperplane is a supporting hyperplane, meaning that the convex cone lies entirely on one side of the plane. In order to nd a solutions to Eqs. 4 and 6, something needs to done to demonstrate that no separating hyperplane or supporting hyperplane, respectively, exists according to Farkas Lemma and Stiemkes Lemma. This can be accomplished using a procedure taken from Grassmann geometry 20 as applied to cable platform systems by Roberts et al. 5. The procedure comes in two forms, according to which type of hyperplane is sought, but the basic premise remains the same: Form candidate hyperplanes using different combinations of the available wrench vectors and then test the other wrenches and the load wrench against these planes to determine if they are separating/supporting. By taking all combinations of the wrench vectors, some of the hyperplanes formed will represent the boundary of the convex cone that can be formed by the set of wrenches. Transactions of the ASME

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In a sense, these provide the worst case scenarios for the wrench set and can be used to rule out the possibility of separating/ supporting hyperplanes. In fact, the search for separating/supporing hyperplanes can be interpreted as a linear programming problem; considering only the boundary hyperplanes is analogous to testing only the vertices of a set of linear inequalities. The procedure goes as follows: 1. Consider the set of m wrench vectors in Rn, taken from the columns of W. A candidate hyperplane can be formed from n 1 linearly independent vectors. For vectors in R3, the iw j; in higher dimensions this normal is given by q=w normal is given by

q = det

1 e w1,1

n e w1,n

wn1,1 wn1,n

i are the canonical basis vectors, and wi, j is the jth where e component of the ith unit wrench vector. 2. Check if the candidate hyperplane is separating/supporting, depending on the lemma being asserted: Farkas: Test if the remaining wrench vectors lie on one side of the hyperplane while the forcing vector b lies on the other. This is accomplished by verifying that i not used in T q sgn bT q for all remaining w sgnw i forming the hyperplane. If this is true, then q is a supporting hyperplane. Stiemke: Test if the remaining wrench vectors all lie on one side of the hyperplane there is no load vector to consider. This is accomplished by verifying that T T i,w j , i j not sgnw q = sgnw q for all remaining w i j used in forming the hyperplane. If this is true, then q is a supporting hyperplane.

hyperplane is formed using vectors from W, and so b must be coplanar with these vectors. This corresponds to two things happening: all of the wrench vectors not used in forming the hyperplane lie on one side of the hyperplane and b lies on the hyperplane causing the matrix determinant involving b to evaluate to zero. Since all of the wrench vectors must non-negatively combine to form b, all of the wrench vectors not in the hyperplane must have zero magnitude. Therefore, the boundaries of the valid conguration space will correspond to the case when one or more of the tensions in the cables becomes zero and b is coplanar with the remaining wrench vectors. Likewise for Eq. 6, the open boundary will occur when the system barely fails the test of solveability. If several wrenches lie on the supporting hyperplane but one or more lie together on one side, then setting the magnitudes of those wrenches to zero might still yield a non-negative tension solution where the tension is not identically zero. Such a solution will not satisfy Eq. 6, but still provides an acceptable solution to Eq. 5 and thus could be considered as the boundary. Just as before, this boundary will correspond to one or more tensions being set to zero and then solving the reduced system. The problem represented by Eq. 6 is important because it represents a sufcient condition for the existence of a solution to the general problem represented by Eq. 4. To see this, consider = the form of a general solution to WT b T= T p + Nc 8

i For vectors in R3 this procedure involves calculating sgnw j w u with u as the vectors being tested either wrench vectors or the load vector, which is equivalent to calculating j iw u. Similarly for higher dimensions, this calculation sgndetw n1 1w u. becomes sgndetw 3. Assuming that q was not a separating/supporting hyperplane, choose another set of wrench vectors and repeat step 2. There will be mCn1 sets to form planes from and then, for Farkas, m n + 2 determinants to test m n + 1 other wrench vectors plus the forcing vector b, and m n + 1 determinants to test for Stiemke. When setting up the tests, the conditions can generally be simplied by manipulating the determinants. Recall that when adjacent columns in a determinant are exchanged, the sign of the result changes. This fact can be used to reduce the number of tests from mCn1 m n + 2 to a much smaller number. If none of the hyperplanes tested were separating supporting hyperplanes, then Farkas Stiemkes Lemma tells us that Eq. 4 Eq. 6 has a solution. This procedure can be carried out using exact forms of the wrench vectors, such as those given in Eq. 2, or carried out directly using a numeric linear programming solver such as linprog in MATLAB. The more useful analysis is to consider what congurations lie on the boundary between solvable and unsolvable systems. As mentioned before, for Eq. 4 this will occur when b lies on the hyperplane given by q since the system has just barely passed the criterion for solvability. In the context of this hyperplane test, the Journal of Mechanical Design

where T p is the particular least-squares solution and N is the matrix of null vectors of W. If Eq. 6 has a solution, then this solution represents a vector in the null space of W and can be using a multiple of some unit-magnitude c. Now, expressed by Nc since this vector is strictly positive, it can be arbitrarily scaled so that any negative components of T p are canceled out by the addition. The desired solution T 0 is then obtained. Since the existence of a solution to Eq. 6 guarantees that Eq. 4 has a solution, the forcing term b is free to vary and the platform can resist arbitrary wrenches. 3.2 Direct Analysis. Consider again the general problem, Eq. 4. It is possible to prove the existence of solutions to the system without explicitly solving for T and checking its sign: Theorem 3.3: Given m = n cables in n-dimensional space with a i(i = 1 , 2 , , n), load wrench vector b and unit wrench vectors w there exist positive tensions or a vector T 0 if and only if the determinants D0 , D1 , D2 , , Dm have the same sign, where 1w 2w 3w m D0 = detw and for i = 1 , 2 , , m 1w 2w i1 i+1 w m bw Di = detw Proof: The equilibrium equations 1w 2w 3w m w T = b form a square system of equations which can be solved by Cramers rule Ti = Di D0 9

Since T 0 implies all Ti must be positive, the proof follows directly. This theorem naturally extends to the zero-load case: Corollary 3.4: Given m = n + 1 cables in n-dimensional space i(i with a zero load wrench vector b and unit wrench vectors w = 1 , 2 , , m), there exist positive tensions or a vector T 0 if and JANUARY 2006, Vol. 128 / 161

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only if the determinants of submatrices minors M 1 , M 2 , , M m have the same sign, where 1w 2w i1w i+1 w m M i = 1idetw Proof: The equilibrium equations are 2w 3w m 1w T = 0 w For a nontrivial solution, we can take, without loss of generality, Tm = 1. The result follows directly from Theorem 3.3 by letting m. b = w In the examples to follow, the planar example illustrates the application of Corollary 3.4, and the spatial example illustrates the application of Theorem 3.3. However, for a nonminimal case, the analysis begins to grow in complexity, as demonstrated by the following theorem: Theorem 3.5 (The m n case): Given m n cables in n-dimensional space with a load wrench vector b and unit wrench i(i = 1 , 2 , , n), there exist positive tensions a vector vectors w T 0 if and only if one of the mCn reduced systems formed by removing wrenches until the system is square has a solution. Proof: If at least one of the reduced systems has a solution, then the solution to the full system can simply be taken as the reduced solution with additional zero tensions corresponding to the wrenches that were removed. If the general system has a solution, then it must belong to a where T* + Nc T* is some subspace of solutions of the form T = vector in the subspace, N is the null space of the full wrench matrix, and c is a vector of arbitrary constants see the discussion c that give rise to a solution of Eq. 8. Starting from the T* and T are zero while c can be adjusted until m n of the elements of the rest remain non-negative. This implies that if the corresponding wrenches are removed from the system, the reduced system will have a non-negative solution. This result means that if a spatial system has extra cables, then several systems must be checked for solutions before the conclusion of no solution can be reached. The analysis can be stopped once a solution can be found, but mCn tests are necessary to eliminate the possibility of solutions. The correspondence between these theorems and corollary and the intuitive approach of the convex analysis will be highlighted by use of the examples in the following section.

Table 1 Summary of the conditions for system to have a solution according to determinant sign test Hyperplane test 1,w 2,w 3 sgnw 1,w 3,w 2 sgnw 1,w 4,w 2 sgnw 2,w 3,w 1 sgnw 2,w 4,w 1 sgnw 3,w 4,w 1 sgnw 1,w 2,w 4 sgnw 1,w 3,w 4 sgnw 1,w 4,w 3 sgnw 2,w 3,w 4 sgnw 2,w 4,w 3 sgnw 3,w 4,w 2 sgnw Substituted sgn M 4 sgn M 4 sgn M 3 sgn M 4 sgn M 3 sgn M 2 sgn M 3 sgn M 2 sgn M 2 sgn M 1 sgn M 1 sgn M 1

wrench vectors against each plane to determine which halfspace formed by the plane they lie in. In this case, each plane has two determinants that can be formed, and if the signs of the determinants are the same, then the plane is supporting and the test indicates that no solution exists. This leads to six comparisons, but some of these are redundant. Now, if the determinants are labeled in accordance with Corollary 3.4 we can dene the following four unique determinants: 1 w 2 w 3 M 4 = detw 1 w 2 w 4 M 3 = detw 1 w 3 w 4 M 2 = detw 2 w 3 w 4 M 1 = detw There are two things to note: First, the subscript of M tells which wrench has been dropped to form this submatrix of W; second, these wrench vectors are not normalized. Since the important information we are looking for is the relative directions of the vectors, all we care about is the sign of the determinants; the magnitude is irrelevant and can be ignored. This greatly simplies the form of each determinant. Now recall that swapping columns inside the determinants has the effect of changing the sign of the determinant. Using this fact, the full enumeration of the six tests is summarized in Table 1 and then rewritten using the dened determinants. For the overall test to return a positive result, the right-hand column indicates that all of the M i must have the same sign. Compare these conditions to those of Corollary 3.4; once the sign changes are resolved in the expression of the M is, the conditions are the exact same. The requirement that all M i have the same sign can be written as three constraints: M 1 and M 2 must have the same sign; M 1 and M 3 must have the same sign; and M 1 and M 4 must have the same sign. If all three constraints are satised, then a solution exists to Eq. 6; therefore, a solution exists to Eq. 4. These three constraints can be rewritten as three inequalities M 1M 2 0 M 1M 3 0 M 1M 4 0 Once again, we see that the magnitudes of the determinants are unimportant. It is important to realize that, for a xed geometry, this is really a closed-form set of inequalities whose functions involve powers of x, y , cos , and sin . These transcendental expressions can be transformed into purely algebraic ones using the Weierstrass t substitution u = tan 11 10


We now present examples of the use of this theory in analyzing cable platforms. The planar example illustrates the use of Stiemkes Lemma and shows how the resulting test is equivalent to Corollary 3.4. The spatial example makes use of Farkas Lemma and demonstrates its equivalence to Theorem 3.3; rst, general platform geometry is considered, but the geometry is specialized to the octahedral manipulator in order to present closed-form expressions for the workspace of this conguration. 4.1 Planar Parallel Manipulator. Beginning with an exact form for the wrenches, as given by Eq. 2, we apply the separating hyperplane search procedure to form a set of closed-form conditions that a platform conguration must satisfy in order for a positive tension solution to exist. Using these, we generate plots to visualize the valid conguration space. Our example platform has four cables and therefore four wrenches to deal with. By using Stiemkes Theorem to prove that a solution exists to Eq. 6, then we know that a solution exists to the general problem given by Eq. 4. This proof requires that no supporting hyperplane can be found or, equivalently, that every hyperplane is separating. For the planar platform geometry, each wrench looks like a vector in R3, and we can form planes using pairs of vectors. We can form 4C2 = 6 different planes and then test 4 3 + 1 = 2 other 162 / Vol. 128, JANUARY 2006

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cos = sin =

1 u2 1 + u2 2u 1 + u2


This substitution accomplishes the objective of creating purely algebraic conditions, but also articially increases the degree of the resulting expressions. Other techniques, such as interval analysis, could be used when analyzing the set of inequalities. For the purposes of this paper, all analysis is aimed toward a graphical presentation so polynomials were desired in order to simplify the implicit plotting. This change will make the functions polynomials of order 12; the highest power of x and y and is 4, and the highest power of u is 8. This can be seen from the exact form of the quantities M 1 , M 2 , M 3 , M 4 given in the Appendix. Each is a polynomial of x, y , and u, with the highest power of x and y as 2 and the highest power of u as 4the leading terms drop out when plugged into Eq. 11. So the workspace boundaries are given by a closed-form system of inequalities f 1 x , y , u 0 f 2 x , y , u 0 f 3 x , y , u 0 The region enclosed by these inequalities is the conguration space of valid congurations. The boundary of this region is given by: M 1M 2 = 0, M 1M 3 = 0, and M 1M 4 = 0. Clearly, at a boundary, at least one of the determinants is zero, i.e., M 1 = 0 , M 2 = 0 , M 3 = 0, or M 4 = 0. We can use this to validate the intuition developed earlier. Consider Eq. 6 with one of the tensions set to zero e.g., cable four 1 w 2 w 3 w 2 w 4t1 w 3t1 w t2 t2 t3 0T = 0 14 13

1 w

t 3 T = 0

We still require that t1 , t2 , t3 are not zero, and so the determinant of the wrench submatrix must be identically zero. Since a zero determinant speaks only of the relative directions of the component vectors and not the magnitudes, this determinant being zero is equivalent to M 4 = 0. Therefore the boundary is given by setting one of the tensions to zero and solving the reduced system, validating the earlier intuition. These closed-form functions were computed for a square platform with side lengths of 1 m and cable connections at the corners. The locations of the cable anchors were chosen as 0, 0, 0, 5, 6, 5, and 6, 0, all in meters. The forms of the determinants in Eq. 10 were found using these dimensions and are given in the Appendix. By evaluating the inequalities given by Eq. 13, one can quickly determine if a given position and angle are valid. Furthermore, these inequalities can be used to visualize the space of valid congurations. Figures 24 are all examples of analysis based on plotting these inequalities. Visualizing Eq. 13 in two dimensions requires xing one of the parameters x , y , u and then plotting the others. Each inequality will produce a valid region; the overlap of the three regions corresponding to the three inequalities will produce the complete valid region. For example, Fig. 2 shows the three regions corresponding to u = 0.015. The overlap of these three regions is shown in Fig. 3 and corresponds to the valid x , y congurations given this angle. Figure 4 shows the valid region with u = 0. Notice that if the platform is not rotated, any conguration where the platform corners do not cross the anchor boundaries is valid. Journal of Mechanical Design

Fig. 2 Plots showing x , y regions that satisy the individual inequalities in Eq. 13. Platform angle is xed at u = 0.015.

4.2 General Spatial Manipulator. In order to illustrate the use of Farkas Lemma and demonstrate this methods effectiveness for the analysis of spatial systems, we now present the analysis of a general spatial platform. The dimensions of this platform were generated by randomly perturbing the octahedral conguration described in the following section, and they are given in Table 3. We will include a load wrench due to gravity in the problem statement. Assuming a unit weight, the load wrench b is b = 0 0 1 y x 0T

When setting up the wrenches for the system, a transformation between the platform and workspace frames is required. For this JANUARY 2006, Vol. 128 / 163

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Table 3 Randomized platform geometry Anchors a1 a2 a3 a4 a5 a6 0.878187 4.59088 1T 0.946605 3.65688 1T 3.29153 1.71408 1T 3.39806 2.15973 1T 3.2802 2.65777 1T 3.50549 1.62909 1T p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6 Connections 0.394735 0.241966 0T 0.403778 0.436642 0T 0.498385 0.131542 0T 0.111701 0.546647 0T 0.072716 0.51583 0T 0.479679 0.16786 0T

1w 2w 3w 4w 5w 6 D0 = w When the signs of these determinants are different a separating hyperplane has been constructed. So in order for the system to have a solution, all of the above determinants must have the same sign; this corresponds exactly to the condition of Theorem 3.3. Now, similar to before, the sign tests can be converted to inequalities
Fig. 3 Plot showing x , y region that satises all of the inequalities in Eq. 13. Platform angle is xed at u = 0.015.

D0Di 0,

i = 1, ,6

task, orientation can be parametrized in whatever way makes sense for the application. However, since this is just an illustrative example, we will be using the no-rotation case for simplicity R = I. Because of the nonzero b, we must use Farkas Lemma; this requires that we construct six different hyperplanes and test one pair of vectors for each to see if any are separating. For instance, by forming the hyperplane with all wrenches except the fourth, we see that in order for the hyperplane to be separating 1w 2w 3w 5w 6w 4 sgnw 1w 2w 3w 5w 6 sgnw b

By swapping adjacent elements on each side, the signs will change together, so the nonequality must still hold. After swapping, the following expression is obtained: 1w 2w 3w 4w 5w 6 sgnw 1w 2w 3 5w 6 sgnw bw

For the general spatial geometry, these algebraic inequalities are quite long and difcult to typeset although they are simple to nd in MATHEMATICA the symbolic computation package used in this paper. However, we do present an approximate expression using the Chop command of MATHEMATICA to remove terms with coefcient smaller than 1015 in the Appendix as an example. More importantly, the visualization of these inequalities is shown in Fig. 5. It is possible to achieve quite a lot of variation in workspace shape as the platform geometry is altered. Further, changing the platform orientation setting to something other than R = I also affects the shape of the workspace. In order to see some of these variations, consider Fig. 6, showing the workspaces of an array of ve different randomly chosen platform geometries shown at different heights. 4.3 Octahedral Manipulator. The octahedral manipulator is a conguration that has been widely studied in the literature on

We dene the determinant on the right-hand side as follows: 1 w i1 i+1 w 6 Di = w bw and the determinant of all the wrenches is denoted as

Fig. 4 Plot showing x , y Region that satises all of the inequalities in Eq. 13. Platform angle is xed at u = 0.

Fig. 5 Plot showing x , y region that is reachable for a random spatial platform with no rotation dimensions given in the Appendix, z = 0.8

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Table 2

Geometry of the octahedral manipulator Connections p1

Anchors a1 0 R1 HT

3 1 R2 R2 0 2 2


0 R1 HT


3 1 R2 R2 0 2 2 3 1 R2 R2 0 2 2


3 1 R1 R1 H 2 2




1 R1 R1 H 2 2


0 R2 0T


1 R1 R1 H 2 2 3 1 R1 R1 H 2 2


0 R2 0T

a6 Fig. 6 Array of plots showing x , y regions that are reachable for random spatial platforms with no rotation. Columns correspond with increasing z values from left to right; rows correspond to different random platform geometries.


3 1 R2 R2 0 2 2

Stewart platforms because it offers superior range of motion. In addition, the geometry is quite regular, making the special congurations easy to visualize and classify. This conguration revolves around two equilateral triangles, one for the base and one for the platform, as shown in Fig. 7. This conguration is three dimensional, with the base at some xed height and the platform hanging down below it. In this respect, our octahedral manipulator is an upside-down version of the classic one. The anchor and connection locations are specied according to Table 2. Note that R1 and R2 are variables that characterize the scales of the base and the platform, respectively. The analysis for the spatial platform applies here as well, and a system of inequalities can be found. Due to the geometry, these inequalities assume a very simple form:

2187 6 5 3 R 5 1R2 3R1 2 x + 2 3 y H z 0 32 2187 6 5 3 R 5 1R2 3R1 + 2x + 3 y H z 0 32 2187 6 5 3 R 5 1R2 3R1 2x + 3 y H z 0 32 2187 6 5 3 R 5 1R2 3R1 4 xH z 0 32 2187 6 5 3 R 5 1R2 3R1 + 4 xH z 0 32 2187 6 5 3 R 5 1R2 3R1 + 2 x 2 3 y H z 0 32 There are a few things to note. As long as z H, the terms involving z will not affect the sign. This requirement is easily satised since it species that the platform cannot move above the anchors a conguration that obviously has no solution. Also, the nal expressions have no dependence on R2, and the dependence on R1 appears only in the middle part of each expression. This middle section, a linear expression in x, y , and R1, contains all of the important information for this system. Since the result is independent of height, the viable area in the x-y plane will form a vertical prism that stops at z = H. The cross section is shown in Fig. 8.


Fig. 7 Diagram of an octahedral manipulator

There are many practical issues related to implementation that are relevant to this paper. For example, we have not considered interference between cables or constraints on cable length in our analysis. Further, there may be limits on the minimum or maximum cable tension. Some of these issues can be addressed by extending our analysis. JANUARY 2006, Vol. 128 / 165

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Fig. 8 Plot showing x , y region that is reachable for the octahedral manipulator with R1 equal to 4 and no platform rotation

The question of tension limits can be handled by adding an extra set of inequalities. Consider applying the technique twice: Tmin + T, and the second, let T = Tmax T . The rst time, let T = Now both T and T must be greater than zero and our analysis applies. Setting up each problem separately and then combining the resulting inequalities will produce the complete tensionlimited solution. This technique would involve some tradeoffs: The number of inequalities is doubled and they are increased in complexity since the right hand side of Eq. 4 will now consist of both the load wrench and the a wrench associated with either the maximum or minimum tension condition. Taking cable intersections into account is a hard problem. It might be possible, using the reciprocal product of the Plcker line coordinates of the cables, to write necessary inequalities for the intersection-free workspace. Even if such an approach does not prove feasible, there are still heuristics that can help to alleviate the issue. For example, Verhoeven 6 made the observation that if two cables are joined to a common point, then they cannot possibly interfere with each other during motion. He used this to highlight one of the benets of the octahedral conguration: Since all adjacent cables share common points at either the platform or the frame, the octahedral conguration does not experience intersections within a moderately bounded region of its possible poses. Similarly, one could also incorporate inequalities that can capture the requirements necessitated by hardware. For example, the need to have a maximum cable length is handled by adding additional inequalities that require the length of the cables, expressed in terms of the pose, be less than a desired amount. The normalization terms in Sec. 2 are precisely these cable length expressions. While we have delineated the curves that bound the workspace, our technique does not deal with the decomposition of the boundary into curve segments. This would require calculating intersections between all of the curves corresponding to the inequalities, then taking each segment and testing whether it still satises the system of inequalities or not. The graphical approach taken in this paper promotes a conceptual understanding and provides a design tool. Our ongoing work addresses the use of the spatial manipulator as a camera platform for active vision, pursuit, and tracking applications. We look forward to being able to report on the dynamics and control of such platforms in the near future. 166 / Vol. 128, JANUARY 2006

We have approached the problem of evaluating the reachable workspace for a cable-driven parallel platform by using the tools of semidenite programming to obtain closed-form expressions for the boundaries of this workspace. Starting with a general statement of the problem, we applied Farkas Lemma to provide the necessary and sufcient condition for a solution to exist. This condition required that there was no hyperplane that separated the convex hull formed by the cable wrench vectors and the forcing wrench. In order to assess if this was the case, we presented an algebraic procedure to nd such a hyperplane. We then extended this method to nding the sufcient condition for ensuring that the parallel platform could resist an arbitrary applied wrench. Throughout this discussion, we used geometric intuition to qualitatively describe the boundaries of the reachable workspace in the context of the semidenite programming techniques used. As further support for this technique, we provided two theorems and a corollary involving direct calculation of the platform system that all lead to expressions identical to the conditions necessitated by the hyperplane search procedure. We applied this procedure to a four-cable planar parallel platform and obtained the closed-form expressions describing the boundaries of the reachable workspace. This quantitative description of the boundaries matched the intuitive description given earlier. Finally, we applied our technique to the fully spatial case, including gravity, by analyzing both general spatial platforms as well as specializing to the octahedral conguration. It should also be mentioned that we xed the orientation of the platform in the analysis only to obtain the plots shown in the paper. Technically, this analysis can be carried out for any orientation, and indeed for all orientations. It is worth noting that the techniques presented here nd natural applications in other systems with unilateral constraints on actuator forces/wrenches. Such systems include multingered grippers and multilegged walking machines when the ngers and legs are considered hard and smooth.

Non-Normalized Determinants for Planar Example. The determinants given in Eq. 10 are quite large if left in fully symbolic form. To reduce their size, we present them evaluated for an a2 = 0 5T , a3 = 6 5T , a4 anchor placement of a1 = 0 0T , 1 1 T = 6 0 , and a platform shape of p1 = 2 2 T , 1 1 1 1 1 1 p3 = 2 2 T , p4 = 2 2 T. See Fig. 1 as reference. p2 = 2 2 T , M1 = 1 4u2 11 + x + y + u4 13 + 2x 11 + 2y 4 1 + u 2 2 11 + 2x 9 + 2y + u 222 + 244x 40x2 + 236y 48y 2 + u3266 + 236x 40x2 + 244y 48y 2 M2 = 1 4u2 6 + x y 11 + 2x 1 + 2y 4 1 + u 2 2 + u4 13 + 2x1 + 2y + u3286 + 236x 40x2 + 236y 48y 2 + u 242 + 244x 40x2 + 244y 48y 2 M3 = 1 1 + x 2 4 y + 2 y 4 u 2 x + y + u 4 1 + 2 x 4 1 + u 2 2 1 + 2y + u3262 + 244x 40x2 + 236y 48y 2 + u 218 + 236x 40x2 + 244y 48y 2 M4 = 1 4u25 + x y + u41 + 2x 11 + 2y 1 4 1 + u 2 2 + 2x 9 + 2y + u3242 + 244x 40x2 + 244y 48y 2 2u99 118x + 20x2 118y + 24y 2 Transactions of the ASME

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where u = tan / 2, and x , y , are the position and orientation of the planar platform. Geometry and Inequalities for Random Spatial Platform. The random spatial platform has geometry given in Table 3. The test using Farkas Lemma reduces to six inequalities that give rise to the workspace shown in Fig. 5. For the case of no platform rotation, their full form is as follows: 145.233 1.00001 + z0.99999 1.99999z + z2 24.3089 + 48.6178z 24.3089z2 + y 11.5452 + 23.0904z 11.5452z2 + x11.3577 22.7154z + 11.3577z2 0 145.233 1.00001 + z0.99999 1.99999z + z2 23.0079 1 . + z 1 . + z + x 15.764 + 31.5281z 15.764z2 + y 14.7408 + 29.4815z 14.7408z2 0 145.233 1.00001 + z0.99999 1.99999z + z2 25.0637 1 . + z 1 . + z + x13.1225 26.245z + 13.1225z2 + y 18.3396 36.6791z + 18.3396z2 0 145.233 1.00001 + z 24.308 + 14.6455x 1 . + z 1 . + z 4.03227y 1 . + z 1 . + z + 48.6161z 24.308z20.99999 1.99999z + z2 0 145.233 1.00001 + z0.99999 1.99999z + z2 20.6026 + 41.2053z 20.6026z2 + x 20.9691 + 41.9381z 20.9691z2 + y 3.80666 + 7.61333z 3.80666z2 0 145.233 1.00001 + z0.99999 1.99999z + z2 27.9417 1 . + z 1 . + z + x 2.39261 + 4.78521z 2.39261z2 + y 15.7853 31.5706z + 15.7853z2 0

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Journal of Mechanical Design

JANUARY 2006, Vol. 128 / 167

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