Contact Stiffness and Damping Estimation for Robotic Systems

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Contact Stiffness and Damping Estimation for Robotic Systems

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Erickson

M. Weber

I. Sharf

Department of Mechanical Engineering

McGill University

Montreal, PQ Canada

inna.sharf@mcgill.ca

Abstract

In this paper, we review and compare four algorithms for the identification of contact stiffness and damping during robot constrained

motion. The intended application is dynamics modeling and simulation of robotic assembly operations in space. Accurate simulation

of these tasks requires contact dynamics models, which in turn use

contact stiffness and damping to calculate contact forces. Hence,

our primary interest in identifying contact parameters stems from

their use as inputs to simulation software with contact dynamics capability. Estimates of environmental stiffness and damping are also

valuable for force tracking and stability of impedance controllers.

The algorithms considered in this work include: a signal processing

method, an indirect adaptive controller with modifications to identify

environment damping, a model reference adaptive controller and a

recursive least-squares estimation technique. The last three methods

have been proposed for real-time implementation in impedance and

force-tracking controllers. The signal processing scheme uses a frequency estimate calculated with fast Fourier transform of the force

signal and is an off-line method. The algorithms are first evaluated

using numerical simulation of a benchmark test. Experiments conducted with a robotic arm contacting a flexible wall provide a further

demonstration of their performance. Our results indicate that the indirect adaptive controller has the best combination of performance

and ease of use. In addition, the effect of persistently exciting signals

is discussed.

KEY WORDScontact parameters, identification, estimation, contact dynamics, environment stiffness and damping,

impedance control, adaptive control, recursive least-squares

1. Introduction

Robotic tasks can be classified into two categories: unconstrained and constrained motion. Unconstrained motion occurs when the manipulator is instantaneously free to move in

The International Journal of Robotics Research

Vol. 22, No. 1, January 2003, pp. 41-57,

2003 Sage Publications

Contact Stiffness

and Damping

Estimation for

Robotic Systems

of such tasks include spray painting and visual inspection.

Constrained motion occurs when the manipulator interacts

with its environment through a point or multiple points of

contact. Tasks such as grinding, cutting and assembly demonstrate constrained motion.

Modeling and control of constrained robotic operations

present a number of challenges. Accurate simulation of these

tasks requires the contact dynamics capability in formulating

and solving the motion equations. From the control standpoint, it is widely acknowledged that a force control or combined position/force control strategy is required to ensure desired interaction with the environment. One of the most popular control strategies for constrained tasks is impedance control (Hogan 1985).

Impedance control utilizes a single control law which attempts

to regulate both position and force by specifying a dynamic

relationship between them. This relationship is chosen to be

a second-order linear impedance because such systems are

well understood and simple to control. A standard impedance

control law is shown in eq. (1), where Mt , Bt , Kt are the target

impedance mass, damping and stiffness, xr is the reference

trajectory, x is the actual trajectory of the end-effector, and Fe

is the external force applied to the end-effector:

Mt (x x r ) + Bt (x x r ) + Kt (x xr ) = Fe .

(1)

and have the dimensions of the task space. They cause the

manipulator to exhibit the dynamics of a multi-directional

massspringdamper system. The target impedance matrices

are typically chosen to be diagonal, resulting in uncoupled

response along each principle direction of x.

41

42

For the purposes of the present paper, it is necessary to distinguish two approaches to environment modeling. The first

is used for impedance and force control and it represents the

environment as an n-dimensional spring (n 6), or a spring

and damper, generally referred to as impedance. Thus, when

the manipulator contacts the environment, a reaction force

results which can be defined as

Fe = Ke (xe x) + Be (xe x ).

(2)

stiffness and damping characteristics of environment, while

xe represents the environment location. It is usual, however, to

treat each Cartesian variable independently or, in other words,

to assume that the environment impedances in different directions are uncoupled (Seraji and Colbaugh 1997; Singh and

Popa 1995). In this case, representation (2) is replaced by n

scalar equations of the form:

Fe = Ke (xe x) + Be (xe x).

(3)

shown schematically in Figure 1, where xe , Ke and Be are

scalars representing the environment location before contact,

stiffness and damping, respectively. Implicit in the models of

eqs. (2) and (3) is the fact that the interaction between the

robot and the environment is confined to a single point or a

small region, such as the case of robotic grinding operations.

Other common applications of this model are for robot collisions with a wall or motion along the wall. Note that some

researchers also include environment inertia in their models

(missing in our eq. (2)). One of the identification methods

explored in this paper (Love and Book 1995) can directly estimate the inertia of the environment. For many applications,

such as space, it is reasonable to assume that the inertia of

the environment is known. In terrestrial applications, environments tend to be stationary or quasi-static, in which case

the inertia term can be neglected.

In the context of contact dynamics modeling, the robot

environment interaction is distributed over a finite number

of contact points between the robot payload and the fixture.

At each point, a contact force can be defined in terms of its

normal and tangential components as

Fc = Fn n + Ft t.

(4)

of the contact force is the spring-dashpot model (Gilardi and

Sharf 2002) of the form:

Fn = Ke + Be .

(5)

In the above, the contact parameters, stiffness Ke and damping Be , relate the local deformation and its rate to the normal

the context of contact dynamics modeling, at each contact

point can be calculated from the geometry and location of the

two mating objects. Note that we have retained the subscript

e in denoting contact parameters for uniformity of notation.

In the simplest contact scenario, that of one-point contact

between robot end-effector and fixture, Fc of eq. (4) becomes

the external end-effector force Fe and the contact model in the

normal direction (eq. (5)) is completely analogous to the onedimensional environment model of eq. (3) with = xe x.

In this case, the problems of contact parameter and environment impedance estimation are identical. For general threedimensional contacts with multiple points of contact between

the payload and the fixture, and assuming identical contact

parameters at all contact points, the net contact force can be

written as the sum of individual contact forces

Fe = Ke

N

i=1

i ni + B e

N

i=1

i ni +

N

Fti ti ,

(6)

i=1

by the particular friction model. It is noted that the contact parameters employed in eqs. (5) and (6) are by definition scalar

quantities, regardless of the complexity of contact geometry.

For both representations of the environment, in general, the

stiffness and damping parameters are poorly known, while environment location or the contact geometry are either known

or can be determined. This implies that the parameter estimation problem can be formulated as a linear identification

problem of the form

Fe = T ,

(7)

called the regressor, is strictly a function of contact geometry.

The above is true for one-point (one-dimensional) contact or

for general three-dimensional scenarios with multiple points

of contact. In the former case, the regressor is = [xe x, xe

T ) and the vector of parameters is = [Ke , Be ]T .

x]

T (or [, ]

The reader is referred to Weber et al. (2002) for derivation of

eq. (7) for complex contact geometries. In this case, the main

complication is that friction identification is now coupled with

contact stiffness and damping estimation, thus making the

solution prone to approximations and assumptions of friction

modeling.

1.3. Motivation

For certain tasks such as space-based manipulation or nuclear waste remediation, the need for high-fidelity simulation

is well understood. To simulate robotenvironment contact

tasks, the simulation software must incorporate a contact dynamics model, such as in eq. (5), and apply appropriate solution methodology. One such software package is MDSF (Ma

et al. 1997) developed by MacDonald Dettwiler Space and

Advanced Robotics, Ltd.1 A recently completed experimental validation of MDSFs contact dynamics capability (Van

Vliet et al. 2000) has demonstrated that for high-fidelity simulation, good estimates of contact parameters must be known.

The identification of environment characteristics is also an

integral component of force-tracking impedance controllers.

One drawback of position-based impedance control is its inability to directly control the interaction force Fe . Instead,

the contact force results from the target impedance values,

reference trajectory and environment properties. A few researchers have designed force-tracking impedance controllers

which command the robot to exert a specified force on the

environment. For example, Seraji and Colbaugh (1997) developed direct and indirect adaptive control to achieve force

tracking by estimating the environment stiffness and location.

Performance was demonstrated in one dimension by using a

seven-degrees-of-freedom (7-DoF) robot to exert a desired

force normal to the reaction surface, while tracking a desired

trajectory tangent to the surface. Singh and Popa (1995) also

showed that model reference adaptive control (MRAC) could

be applied to impedance force control to achieve force tracking. It was found that, like the algorithm of Seraji and Colbaugh, an estimate of the environment stiffness was required.

Environment estimation can also be used to improve stability during contact. Love and Book (1995) showed how estimates of environment impedance parameters could be used

to design an impedance controller that was stable both during and at the onset of contact. They also showed that, in the

absence of accurate estimates, unstable contact could result.

Their algorithm uses a recursive least-squares (RLS) technique applied to a discrete form of the environment dynamics

equations proposed by An et al. (1988).

1. Formerly SPAR Aerospace, Robotics Division.

43

In this paper we compare the existing environment parameter estimation algorithms (Seraji and Colbaugh 1997; Singh

and Popa 1995; Love and Book 1995), as well as an original method which uses a signal processing approach, all

applied to the problem of contact or environment stiffness

and damping estimation. We outline some important changes

made to improve the accuracy of parameter estimation of the

indirect adaptive controller. Our comparison is based both

on numerical performance of the methods and implementation on a real system. In addition, an important aspect of

parameter estimationthe requirement for persistent excitation of the reference signalis discussed and demonstrated

experimentally.

Following other authors, our brief presentation of the different methods is limited to one-dimensional (for the environment impedance model) or one-point contact (in the

case of contact model) situations. It is emphasized, however, that although the bench test considered in this paper represents a simple contact geometrysingle-point, onedirectional contactour findings have direct relevance to

multiple-point contacts for complex mating bodies. As noted

earlier, the identification problem for such scenarios can still

be formulated as a linear relationship between the net contact

(end-effector) force and the scalar contact parameters to be

identified. With the exception of the signal processing technique, the other methods investigated here can be directly

applied to identify contact parameters for three-dimensional

contact geometries, using appropriate definitions of regressor

and parameter vector .

2.1. Signal Processing Method

The signal processing method of environment estimation was

developed from the theory of second-order, linear, time invariant systems. A robot that is controlled using impedance

control exhibits a second-order dynamic relationship between

the position of the end-effector and the external force applied

to it. The characteristics of this relationship are governed by

the target impedance values (Mt , Bt , Kt ), through which the

user can specify the dynamic behavior of the manipulator

(Hogan 1985). Also recall that the environment is assumed

to behave as a linear impedance according to its stiffness and

damping coefficients (Ke , Be ). When these two systems come

into contact, a new second-order system is formed (see Figure 2) which is composed of the impedance characteristics of

both the controller and environment. If the impedance characteristics of the combined system (impedance controller and

environment) can be determined, then those of the environment can be calculated.

44

Damping Ratio

The impedance properties of the environmentrobot system

can be determined from the step response of this system. This

is achieved by commanding a step in the location of the robot

end-effector (x) during contact, and measuring the resultant

force (Fe ). Assuming an underdamped response, the damped

natural frequency d can be determined from the fast Fourier

transform (FFT) of the force signal. To determine the damping

ratio , we have used the settling time method which gives

the following relation for Ts to achieve convergence to within

5% of the steady-state value

of visible cycles (including fractional parts) before the measured contact force response converges to within 5% of the

steady-state value, and substituting the result into eq. (11).

2.1.2. Determination of Environment Stiffness and Damping

Coefficients

The stiffness and damping coefficients of the environment

can be extracted from the known values of d and . For the

robotenvironment system in Figure 2, the equivalent stiffness, damping and mass are

Keq

Kt + K e

(12)

(8)

Beq

1995). The settling time is then given by

Meq

=

=

Bt + B e

Mt .

(13)

(14)

n Ts

= 0.05,

Ts =

2.996

n

(9)

time is reached is

2.996 1 2

#cycles =

.

(10)

2

From the above, the damping ratio is obtained as

=

0.4768

#cycles + 0.2274

2

(11)

In terms of these parameters, the natural frequency and damping ratio are given by

Keq

d

n =

=

(15)

2

Meq

1

Beq

.

2 Keq Meq

(16)

With the values for d and determined from the force response and equations (12)(16), we obtain the environment

stiffness and damping in terms of the known values:

Ke

Be

n2 Mt Kt

2 (Kt + Ke )Mt Bt .

(17)

(18)

It is important to note the advantages and disadvantages

of this method. To its credit, the signal processing method

requires very little sensory data. Only the (normal) contact

force needs to be measured and it is common for robots that

perform contact tasks to have a force sensor mounted at the

end-effector. This algorithm then processes the force measurements off-line, after the experiments are completed. Unlike

the other methods described below, this scheme does not require measurements of the environment deflection or velocity.

Interestingly, this method can be best described as a hybrid between basic frequency-domain and time-domain techniques,

as it makes use of both types of information. One disadvantage

is that, in order to measure both d and , the force response

must be underdamped. This implies that the target impedance

values must be carefully chosen to give the desired behavior.

Frequency-domain methods in general are not subject to this

limitation, but for our problem they require kinematic data

(i.e. position or velocity). Also, the method cannot be easily

extended to identify contact parameters for general contact geometries because it makes use of the equivalent stiffness and

damping for the robotenvironment system. These cannot be

easily defined for three-dimensional contacts with multiple

contact points, as in the environment model of eq. (6). Finally, the algorithm assumes that the manipulator dynamics

are represented perfectly by the target impedance which is not

achievable in practice.

The indirect adaptive controller proposed by Seraji and Colbaugh (1997) was intended to achieve force tracking within

impedance control. This implies that the measured force (Fe )

should converge to a desired reference force (Fr ). To achieve

this goal, a trajectory generator was developed which modified the reference trajectory (xr ) on-line, during the contact.

The algorithm uses estimates of the environment stiffness and

location (K e , xe ) to calculate xr in the impedance control law

(1) from

xr = xe +

the standard linear in parameters form. In light of this, the

indirect adaptive controller was reformulated to estimate environment stiffness and damping (K e , B e ), but not location

(xe ). This is in line with our previous comments that location of the environment is either known (as may be the case

in terrestrial applications) or can be measured, similarly to

the location of robot end-effector already required for most

methods considered here. With this modification, the actual

contact force remains as in eq. (2), the trajectory generator

becomes

xr = xe +

1

Fr

K e

1

Fr .

K e

(19)

according to an update law derived using a Lyapunov-based

approach. This method uses the popular regressor form of the

environment impedance equations. The results presented by

Seraji and Colbaugh (1997) showed that force tracking was

achieved, but convergence of the environment estimates to the

correct values could not be guaranteed. This was attributed to

lack of a persistent excitation condition.

Our experience with numerical simulation, however, revealed that the addition of persistent excitation still did not result in parameter convergence. The cause for this is the choice

of stiffness and environment location as adjustable parameters. These parameters are multiplied together in the contact

(20)

F = K e (xe x) B e x

(21)

now be written in the linear form by defining the regressor

= [xe x, x]

T and the vector of parameter estimates

= [K e , B e ]T

K e

F = xe x, x

= T .

(22)

B e

Subtracting eq. (3) from eq. (22) yields

F = T

45

(23)

where F = F Fe and = .

The adaptation law can be formed using a Lyapunov technique (Slotine and Li 1991) by defining the energy function

V , where is a positive definite matrix:

V = T .

(24)

= 1 F

(25)

it can be shown, using eqs. (24) and (25), that the derivative

of the energy function is

V = 2 T T

which is negative definite in terms of provided

In T dt In

for 0 < < .

(26)

(27)

of persistent excitation (Anderson et al. 1986). Since eq. (26)

is negative definite in terms of , it can be concluded that the

estimate error 0 as t , or that the environment

estimates (K e , B e ) converge to the actual values (Ke, Be ).

46

then = and the adaptation law (25) can be used to generate new parameter estimates during each time step by numerical integration. The new estimates are then used to update

the trajectory generator (20). The resulting impedance controller achieves both force-tracking and accurate parameter

estimates, the latter in the presence of persistent excitation.

The implementation of the parameter estimation in the indirect adaptive controller requires data on the actual position and velocity of the end-effector (x, x),

and the interaction force (Fe ). In practice, accurate measurement of absolute

kinematics quantities at the robot tip is difficult to achieve and

this poses a challenge in the application of the method. To use

the algorithm, the user must specify the gain matrix for the

adaptation law (25) and the reference force signal Fr . This

force input must be persistently exciting if accurate estimates

for both the environment stiffness and damping are required.

2.3. Model Reference Adaptive Control

MRAC was used by Singh and Popa (1995) to investigate

some fundamental issues of force control, namely explicit

force control, general impedance control and force-tracking

impedance control. Of main interest to us is the latter since it

is the impedance control combined with explicit force control

that involves environment parameter estimation. In fact, the

work of Singh and Popa demonstrated that to achieve a forcetracking impedance controller, knowledge of the environment

contact parameters was required.

The MRAC controller presented by Singh and Popa is significantly more complicated than the indirect adaptive controller proposed by Seraji and Colbaugh (1997). The full controller is not described in detail here, but a brief explanation

of the method is given below. Similarly to eq. (3) the MRAC

controller is based on the model of the environment as a linear

spring in parallel with a viscous damper. The major components of the controller include the following:

The state dynamics are driven by the model-following control law which involves state feedback (x, x)

and an appropriately chosen auxiliary signal. The virtual trajectory dynamics

are specified by the user, and this signal must be persistently

exciting to ensure convergence of the model-matching parameters (Singh and Popa 1995). Furthermore, it is stated that

environment parameter convergence can be guaranteed if the

desired contact force is time-varying (persistently exciting).

The experimental results presented by Singh and Popa

show accurate estimation of the environment stiffness and

damping for a variety of environments. Simultaneously, a desired contact force is achieved.

2.4. Recursive Least Squares

Love and Book (1995) have successfully demonstrated that

contact stability can be improved if estimates of the environment impedance parameters are known. They modeled

the environment as a locally stationary massspringdamper

system:

Fe = Me x + Be x + Ke (x xe ).

(28)

By defining x = x xe and remembering that the environment is stationary (xe = xe = 0), eq. (28) can be rewritten

as

Fe = Me x + Be x + Ke x.

(29)

The above differs slightly from the equation used by Love and

Book (1995), but instead reflects the original work described

by An et al. (1988). The bilinear transformation is then used

to transform eq. (29) into its discrete-time counterpart

2

2

2

1 z1

Fe = Me

T

1 + z1

(30)

2

1 z1

+ Ke x

+ Be

T

1 + z1

manipulator in contact with environment. It is assumed

that the system is linear and the state-space parameters

are in general unknown.

a polynomial in terms of z. By recognizing that z1 represents

a shift of one step in the time domain, and letting k describe

the time-step index, the corresponding difference equation is

with the reference signal specified by the virtual trajectory generator.

2

2

2

=

Me

+ Be

+ Ke x[k]

T

T

2

2

x[k1]

+ 2 Ke Me

T

2

2

2

+ Ke x[k2]

+ Me

Be

T

T

3. The MRAC parameter estimator provides the adaptation law for system parameters that match the plant

model to the reference model.

4. The environment parameter estimator provides the

adaptation law for the environment stiffness and

damping.

(31)

47

T

[k]

y[k] = [k]

(32)

x[k] xe

x[k1] xe

x[k2] xe

T

A B C

.

(33)

with

y[k]

[k]

[k]

(34)

(35)

The RLS solution for [k] takes the following form (Ljung

1987)

T

(36)

[k1]

[k] = [k1] + L[k] y[k] [k]

test.

where

L[k]

P[k]

P[k1] [k]

T

+ [k]

P[k1] [k]

T

P[k1] [k] [k]

P[k1]

1

.

P[k1]

T

+ [k]

P[k1] [k]

(37)

(38)

The initial guess for the adaptation gain matrix P and the

weighting factor (0 1) must be specified by the user.

Once [k] has been calculated (and subsequently A, B, C), the

desired parameter estimates at the kth sample period can be

recovered using

2

1 T

T

Me =

(A + C B) , Be =

(A C) ,

4 2

4

Ke =

1

(A + B + C) .

4

(39)

algorithm requires measurements of contact force Fe and the

corresponding end-effector position x. It is noted that unlike

the other two methods considered here, the RLS solution is

geared to identifying impedance parameters within the framework of pure impedance control, without tracking a desired

force signal. Formulated as a linear identification problem, the

success of the parameter estimation is subject to the standard

persistent excitation condition as stated in eq. (27).

3.1. Physical Setup

To compare the four schemes presented above, a benchmark

test was developed. This test was analyzed using both a numerical simulation in MATLAB, as well as experiments conducted with the Planar Robotics Testbed at the University of

Victoria. The testbed includes a custom manipulator assembled using modular links and joint motors, as well as a flexible

wall fixture (see Figure 3).

The flexible wall represents a relatively simple environment designed specifically for our experiments as a first step

to evaluating the performance of different techniques. In particular, the flexible wall is attached to a set of linear bearings, and can thus translate in one direction. Behind the wall

are a set of coil springs and oil-filled dampers. These components are also modular, and can be added or removed to

change the mechanical impedance of the wall (see Figure 4).

For the benchmark test presented here, the stiffness of the

environment was defined by the two springs in parallel, with

the effective stiffness of Ke = 4800 N m1 . This represents

a relatively soft environmentthe choice made partially because of the limited accuracy of the wall displacement sensor.

In practical applications, we encounter much stiffer environments which makes the identification task more challenging.

The damping coefficients of the dampers are not accurately

known but are estimated to give approximate environment

damping of Be = 200 kg s1 .

48

(Ke , Be ), only one non-zero frequency is required (Landau

et al. 1998). Therefore, a persistently exciting input to the

MRAC and indirect adaptive schemes was defined by adding

a small-amplitude sinusoid to Fd to give

0.7

Reference trajectory

Flexible wall

0.6

0.5

Fr = Fd + 8 sin(20t).

(40)

xr (m)

0.4

directly to the desired trajectory, giving

0.3

xr = xd + 0.02 sin(20t),

0.2

0.1

10

15

time (s)

flexible wall.

the manipulator, a planar force/torque sensor mounted at the

end-effector and a linear displacement potentiometer directly

connected to the flexible wall. The force sensor measures

the contact force at the robot end-effector. The potentiometer

gives a measurement of the wall deflection from which the

end-effector velocity is calculated using a finite difference

scheme (for the indirect adaptive and MRAC methods). We

note that, although end-effector force sensors are common

on robot manipulators, an absolute position sensor capable

of measuring the environment deflection in three dimensions

may be difficult to implement. This is especially true for stiff

environments.

3.2. Trajectory and Inputs

The manipulator was commanded to follow a reference trajectory using impedance control. The reference trajectory used

in numerical simulations is shown in Figure 5 and was defined

by a fifth-order polynomial for the approach and withdrawal

phases of the maneuver. Part of the trajectory lies inside the

flexible wall, resulting in robotenvironment contact for several seconds. Note that during the contact phase, a desired

force (Fd = 50 N) was specified for the indirect adaptive and

MRAC controllers, with the reference trajectory modified accordingly (see eq. (20) for the indirect adaptive controller).

As discussed earlier, accurate damping estimation can be

guaranteed only with a persistently exciting reference signal.

A common approach to create such a signal is by adding several sinusoidal signals with distinct frequencies. It has been

shown that the number of required frequencies in the reference signal depends on the number of parameters to be determined. For a system involving two unknown parameters

(41)

where xd is the desired (reference) trajectory before the addition of persistent excitation. The amplitudes of these signals were chosen to give a good signal-to-noise ratio, while

remaining within the physical capabilities of the manipulator and environment. The frequency of the sinusoid is sufficiently far from zero while still within the bandwidth of the

manipulator.

When the choice of the excitation frequency is not evident or to increase the temporal bandwidth of the excitation,

a pseudo-random binary sequence (PRBS) can be used. This

signal resembles a square wave with a constant amplitude, but

has a randomly varying period (Landau et al. 1998). As such,

it has a constant spectral density over a broad bandwidth of

frequencies. Experimental results obtained with PRBS excitation are presented in Section 5.

The target impedance coefficients used in the indirect adaptive and RLS algorithms were chosen to be: Mt = 5 kg,

Bt = 100 kg s1 and Kt = 500 N m1 . These nominally

cause the manipulator-environment system to have a natural frequency of n = 10 rad s1 and critical damping. The

MRAC algorithm was found to be unstable during contact

when these target impedance values were used, so this algorithm was individually tuned, resulting in: Mt = 1 kg,

Bt = 650 kg s1 and Kt = 1e5 N m1 . Finally, to produce an

underdamped response for the signal processing method, we

used: Mt = 20 kg, Bt = 50 kg s1 and Kt = 2000 N m1 .

Each algorithm was given the same initial conditions for

the parameter estimates: K e[0] = 3000 N m1 and B e[0] =

50 kg s1 . Other initial guesses were also attempted with, overall, not significantly different outcomes. Note that, in practice,

the initial guess for environmental stiffness should error on

the soft side in order to avoid excessive transients in the contact forces. The adaptation gain matrix used in the indirect

and MRAC schemes was chosen through trial and error to

be = diag{5.0e4, 2.5e3}. The RLS scheme required an

initial value for P[0] = In , where is a large constant (Landau et al. 1998). For our simulations and experiments we set

P[0] = 105 In . The weighting factor (), which is often chosen to be slightly less than one, was set to = 0.98 (Landau

et al. 1998). Using these values, simulation and experimental results of the benchmark test were obtained both with and

without persistent excitation, as presented below.

49

4. Simulation Results

simulation using MATLAB. To model the noise inherent in

the force sensor used in our experiments, a random signal with

an amplitude of 1 N was added to the calculated contact

force. On the other hand, perfect end-effector position and

velocity measurements were assumed in the simulations.

be difficult or hazardous. For stiff environments, the amplitude

of possible motions may be too small to have a positive effect

on convergence, while for fragile environments the time varying force signal may cause damage. Therefore, it was deemed

important to study how the contact parameter estimation algorithms perform in the absence of persistent excitation. The

same benchmark test was performed, but the superimposed

sinusoidal signal was removed from Fr or xr in eqs. (??) and

(??).

The measured force response for the signal processing

method during contact is given in Figure 7. The contact force

demonstrates the desired second-order underdamped behavior, as shown. For this simulation, the response converges to

within 5% of the steady-state value in approximately 1.5 cycles, which results in a calculated damping ratio of = 0.303.

The frequency response of this signal shows a single dominant

frequency at d = 2.93 Hz (see Figure 8) which corresponds

to the undamped natural frequency n = 3.07 Hz. Following

the method outlined in Section 2, the stiffness and damping

estimates were found to be 5441 N m1 and 173 kg s1 , resulting in a parameter error of 13% for both values.

Results from the indirect adaptive, MRAC and RLS methods are given in Figure 9, and demonstrate some interesting

trends. The stiffness estimates still converged to nearly the

correct value, with errors for the indirect, MRAC and RLS

schemes equal to 2.4%, 0.1% and 1.7% respectively. As before, the RLS algorithm demonstrated significant overshoot,

but converged rapidly to nearly the actual value. The response

of the indirect and MRAC controllers was smooth, rapid and

accurate. Thus, the absence of persistent excitation does not

significantly affect the stiffness estimation when applied to

simulated results.

Substantial degradation, however, is apparent in the damping estimates. As can be seen from the damping (lower) plot in

Figure 9, the RLS estimate converged slowly, and exhibited a

large amount of noise in the response. The contact phase was

sufficiently long however (3.3 s) to allow for estimation of

damping to occur with the final estimate error of 2.5%. Thus,

the RLS algorithm demonstrates damping convergence even

in the absence of the sinusoidal persistent excitation signal

because the trajectory is slowly time-varying. For the indirect

adaptive and MRAC schemes, it is evident that adaptation occurs exclusively during the transient phases of the maneuver:

the onset and conclusion of contact. Due to the force-tracking

nature of these algorithms, it is only during these times that

the manipulator has a non-zero velocity normal to the wall.

As evidenced by the accurate estimates of Be calculated with

the indirect and MRAC algorithms (3.0% and 0.0% errors,

respectively), adaptation during these brief moments is possible. However, the convergence rate is highly dependent on

the adaptation gains, and thus convergence to actual values

Sinusoidal excitation was added to the reference signal of the

indirect adaptive, MRAC and RLS algorithms (recall that the

signal processing method uses a trajectory with a step input, so

this algorithm should not be used with persistent excitation).

For these three methods, the prescribed trajectory caused the

manipulator to be in contact with the wall for just over 3 s, from

t = 5.9 s to t = 9.2 s. During this time, all three algorithms

showed a definite parameter adaptation of the stiffness and

damping estimates towards the actual values (see Figure 6).

The stiffness plot showed that the indirect adaptive controller

and the MRAC controller resulted in a very similar response.

In particular, both methods converged within 1 s and produced

stiffness estimates with less than 0.1% error (as defined by

the value at the last instant of contact). Although the RLS

algorithm demonstrated significant overshoot, convergence

was also rapid and accurate, with a final stiffness estimate

error of 1.3%.

The plot of damping estimation demonstrates good convergence for each algorithm (see the lower plot in Figure 6). The

response was, in general, rapid with little overshoot. In addition, all algorithms resulted in damping parameter estimates

with less than 1.0% error. Through many simulations, it was

apparent that the damping estimation was dramatically improved if the persistent excitation signal was increased (either

in amplitude or frequency). This is reasonable since either

change would result in faster manipulator reference velocities (xr ) and therefore more rapid convergence to the actual

parameter value. Based on these simulations, it can be concluded that in the presence of persistent excitation all three

algorithms are capable of very accurate stiffness and damping

estimation.

It is noted that the rate of parameter convergence is highly

dependent on the choice of adaptation gains. These gains are

chosen by the user (usually by trial and error) which implies

that the parameter convergence rate can be controlled to some

extent. The indirect adaptive controller and MRAC controller

use identical parameter adaptation laws and gain matrices,

allowing for direct comparisons of these algorithms. The RLS

scheme, however, is fundamentally different in the manner in

which it forms parameter estimates and therefore cannot be

directly compared to the other schemes.

50

10000

Stiffness (N/m)

8000

6000

Actual

4000

Indirect

MRAC

RLS

2000

0

10

15

time (s)

400

Damping (kg/s)

300

Actual

200

100

Indirect

MRAC

RLS

0

100

10

15

time (s)

Fig. 6. Simulation results of stiffness and damping estimation with sinusoidal excitation.

45

1600

Calculated force

5% bounds

40

1400

30

1200

25

1000

Magnitude

Force (N)

35

20

15

800

600

10

400

200

0

5

10.5

11

11.5

12

time (s)

processing method.

10

20

30

Frequency (Hz)

40

50

51

10000

Stiffness (N/m)

8000

6000

Actual

4000

Indirect

MRAC

RLS

2000

0

10

15

time (s)

400

Damping (kg/s)

300

Actual

200

100

Indirect

MRAC

RLS

0

100

10

15

time (s)

Fig. 9. Simulation results of stiffness and damping estimation without persistent excitation.

approached zero.

5. Experimental Results

The simulation results presented above indicate that all four

algorithms are capable of accurate environment parameter

estimation. Using the signal processing method, acceptable

stiffness and damping estimation were possible without persistent excitation. For the indirect adaptive, MRAC and RLS

algorithms, stiffness estimation is very accurate either in

the presence or absence of persistent excitation, but reliable

damping estimation cannot be guaranteed without additional

excitation.

Experimental validation of the indirect adaptive, RLS and

signal processing algorithms was performed by implementing

the benchmark test on the Planar Robotics Testbed described

in Section 3. As demonstrated in simulations of Section 4, the

MRAC algorithm generated very similar parameter estimates

and responses to those of indirect adaptive method since the

two share identical parameter adaptation laws and gain matrices. At the same time, the indirect adaptive controller was

found to be intuitive and easily implemented, while the MRAC

we concluded that the MRAC algorithm offers no significant

advantage over the indirect adaptive controller and therefore

it was not investigated with the Robotics Testbed.

5.1. Data Collection and Processing

All experiments were performed with a sampling rate of

500 Hz. The measured data were filtered by using the Butterworth filter of second order with cut-off frequency set to

50 Hz. These filter parameters were optimized manually to

minimize the errors in stiffness and damping estimates. The

speed of the wall was calculated by using the finite-difference

scheme on the wall deflection and filtering the result. Finally,

some static friction is present at the bearings of the wall fixture and it was determined that a force of 6 N is required to

move the wall from its stationary position. This value was

subtracted from the force measurements to give the contact

force employed in the estimation algorithms.

5.2. Results With Persistent Excitation

Indirect adaptive and RLS parameter estimation results are

presented for the sinusoidal and PRBS excitations in the input signal. In each case, 10 experiments were performed to

52

0.7

0.6

0.5

xr (m)

0.4

0.3

IA trajectory

0.2

0.1

Wall

0

0.1

RLS trajectory

10

15

20

time (s)

Fig. 10. Reference trajectories used for the indirect adaptive and RLS experiments with sinusoidal excitation.

contact force and wall deflection profiles measured in one

of the tests with sinusoidal excitation are shown in Figure 11.

The reference trajectories used for the RLS and indirect adaptive experiments with sinusoidal excitation are plotted in Figure 10. These were designed to produce comparable deflections and forces for a more truthful evaluation of the RLS and

indirect adaptive estimation results. The corresponding profiles of the stiffness and damping estimation are illustrated in

Figure 12.

Stiffness estimation for both algorithms is fairly good, with

errors of 12.6% for the indirect adaptive controller and 3.5%

for the RLS technique. (Note that, as in simulation results,

these errors are calculated for the estimates at the last instant

of contact.) Convergence was rapid in each case (510 periods

of oscillation), with the indirect adaptive controller exhibiting a smooth response while the RLS scheme again showed a

large initial overshoot. The RLS estimate also trailed during

the withdrawal from the wall. These differences in performance concur with the differences in trajectories for the two

maneuvers as can be seen in Figure 10.

Damping estimation does not exhibit clear convergence,

although the end-of-contact values are reasonable for both

methods. The average errors for damping are 15.7% and

22.0% for the indirect adaptive and RLS controllers, respectively. To verify convergence of damping estimation, experiments were conducted with a longer contact maneuver. The

reconfirm convergence of the stiffness estimates observed before, and demonstrate convergence of damping albeit to a

value higher than expected.

A set of results obtained by using PRBS excitation described in Section 3.2 is included in Figure 15. The excitation signal was generated by using 10 binary registers which

were shifted at a frequency of 20 Hz. The feedback signal

was created from a combination of the 7th and 10th register values (as suggested in Landau et al. 1998). The resulting

signal, composed of zeros and ones, was scaled and shifted

to produce an excitation signals of 8 N and 0.02 m for

the force and motion inputs, respectively. The results in Figure 15 exhibit similar characteristics to those obtained with

the sinusoidal excitation (Figure 12), but with a noisier convergence. Corresponding results for the longer maneuver are

shown in Figure 16. These exhibit similar features to PRBS

results in Figure 15, but with a more definitive convergence

of estimation.

5.3. Results Without Persistent Excitation

Experiments without the addition of an excitation signal were

performed with the signal processing, indirect adaptive and

RLS methods. As before, 10 experiments were carried out for

each procedure to generate an average stiffness and damping estimate. The values obtained with the signal processing

method were 3029 N m1 and 35 kg s1 for stiffness and

20

0

Force (N)

20

Indirect

RLS

40

60

80

100

10

time (s)

12

14

16

18

20

10

time (s)

12

14

16

18

20

x 10

Displacement (m)

0

2

Indirect

RLS

4

6

8

10

Fig. 11. Experimental profiles of force and wall deflection with sinusoidal excitation.

8000

Indirect

RLS

Stiffness (N/m)

7000

6000

Actual

5000

4000

3000

2000

10

time (s)

12

14

16

18

20

10

time (s)

12

14

16

18

20

400

Damping (kg/s)

Indirect

RLS

300

Actual

200

100

Fig. 12. Experimental results of stiffness and damping estimation with sinusoidal excitation.

53

54

20

Force (N)

0

20

40

60

80

Indirect

RLS

100

x 10

10

time (s)

15

20

25

Displacement (m)

0

2

4

6

8

10

Indirect

RLS

0

10

time (s)

15

20

25

Fig. 13. Experimental profiles for long contact maneuver of force and wall deflection with sinusoidal excitation.

10000

Indirect

RLS

Stiffness (N/m)

8000

6000

Actual

4000

2000

10

time (s)

15

20

25

Damping (kg/s)

400

300

Actual

200

100

Indirect

RLS

0

0

10

time (s)

15

20

25

Fig. 14. Experimental results for long contact maneuver of stiffness and damping estimation with sinusoidal excitation.

8000

Indirect

RLS

Stiffness (N/m)

7000

6000

Actual

5000

4000

3000

2000

10

time (s)

12

14

16

18

20

10

time (s)

12

14

16

18

20

400

Damping (kg/s)

Indirect

RLS

300

Actual

200

100

Fig. 15. Experimental results of stiffness and damping estimation with PRBS excitation.

10000

Stiffness (N/m)

Indirect

RLS

8000

6000

Actual

4000

2000

10

time (s)

15

20

25

400

Damping (kg/s)

Indirect

RLS

300

Actual

200

100

10

time (s)

15

20

25

Fig. 16. Experimental results for long contact maneuver of stiffness and damping estimation with PRBS excitation.

55

56

9000

Indirect

RLS

Stiffness (N/m)

8000

7000

6000

Actual

5000

4000

3000

2000

10

time (s)

12

14

16

18

20

10

time (s)

12

14

16

18

20

400

Damping (kg/s)

Indirect

RLS

300

Actual

200

100

Fig. 17. Experimental results of stiffness and damping estimation without persistent excitation.

(Erickson 2000). The substantial discrepancies from the actual parameter values can be explained by the fact that the

impedance of the arm is not exactly represented by the target

impedance. Also, finite sampled data and inaccuracies inherent in the estimation of the damping ratio limit the accuracy

of the signal processing technique.

Stiffness and damping estimation for the indirect adaptive

and RLS methods without persistent excitation is shown in

Figure 17. The indirect adaptive controller resulted in stiffness estimates with an average error of 8.9% while the RLS

algorithm was more substantially amiss and demonstrated an

average error of 19.2%. The cause for the discrepancy between the converged stiffness of the indirect adaptive method

and the steady-state value predicted during mid-contact of

the RLS maneuver has not been uncovered.

The results of the damping estimation were in line with our

expectations. In the absence of persistent excitation, accurate

damping estimation should not be possible with either algorithm. This was in fact observed with the indirect adaptive and

RLS methods which resulted in damping errors of 60% and

85%, respectively. However, an attempt at adaptation is visible during the initial and, in the case of RLS, final transients,

when the wall velocity is non-zero. Since the adaptation rate is

gain-dependent, it cannot be concluded that the actual damping value will always be obtained during this limited time.

6. Conclusions

The analysis and results presented in this paper are intended to

compare contact parameter identification algorithms. Specifically, a signal processing method, indirect adaptive controller,

MRAC controller and RLS estimator were used to determine

the stiffness and damping of the environment during robot

constrained motion. The signal processing method represents

an original contribution, while the remaining three schemes

have been proposed by other authors (Seraji and Colbaugh

1997; Singh and Popa 1995; Love and Book 1995). However,

substantial modifications were made to the original indirect

adaptive controller, and a proof of parameter convergence was

given.

The signal processing method uses frequency-domain and

time-domain information, and accordingly was implemented

off-line. It has one substantial advantage: only force measurements are required to extract the desired information. The

other three methods are time-domain algorithms and were implemented on-line. Their data requirements include the force,

deflection and, with the exception of RLS, velocity at the contact point. Accurate deflection or position measurements are

difficult in practice, but many identification methods in the

literature require it. In our future work, we will address this

issue by including environment location in the parameters to

be estimated.

The simulation results obtained with the four algorithms

indicate that all can generate accurate estimates of both Ke

and Be in a short time. With the exception of the signal processing method, persistent excitation was found to be required

for accurate estimation of both stiffness and damping. Without persistently exciting signals, stiffness estimation was still

possible (in fact, it was more accurate), but damping estimation was not reliable. Three of the algorithms considered were

tested experimentally by using a 3-DoF robotic arm contacting a flexible wall. The results of these tests indicate that the

indirect adaptive and RLS methods are capable of generating

very good estimates for the wall stiffness and damping (in the

presence of persistent excitation), within several periods of

oscillation. Without persistent excitation, some damping estimation may occur during contact transients, but this depends

on the maneuver and gain selection. The indirect adaptive solutions tended to be smoother, showing a more definite convergence. This, however, is likely to be due to the force-tracking

feature of the controller, rather than an inherent property of

the estimator. We also observe that the indirect adaptive controller was found to be intuitive and easily implemented, more

so than the RLS and MRAC schemes.

Estimates calculated with the signal processing method

were less accurate because of the discrepancy between real

and target impedances of the manipulator and limited sampled

data. Even then, we believe the method may still provide a viable option for practical applications, if the real impedance

of the arm can be modeled. Our future work in the area of

contact parameter identification will involve investigation of

frequency-domain methods and evaluation of these and timedomain techniques for contacts involving complex geometries

and stiff environments.

References

An, C., Atkinson, C., and Hollerbach, J. 1988. Model-Based

Control of a Robot Manipulator. Cambridge, MA: MIT

Press.

Anderson, B., Bitmead, R., Johnson Jr, C., Kokotovic, P., Kosut, R., Mareels, M., Praly, L., and Riedle, B. 1986. Stability of Adaptive Systems: Passivity and Averaging Analysis.

Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

57

edition. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Erickson, D. 2000. Contact stiffness and damping estimation

for constrained robotics systems. Masters thesis, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada.

Gilardi, G., and Sharf, I. 2002. Literature survey of contact

dynamics modeling. Journal of Mechanism and Machine

Theory, 37:12131239.

Hogan, N. 1985. Impedance control: An approach to manipulation: Parts i-iii. ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems,

Measurement and Control, 107:124.

Landau, I., Lozano, R., and MSaad, M. 1998. Adaptive Control. London: Springer-Verlag.

Ljung, L. 1987. System Identification: Theory for the User.

Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Love, L., and Book, W. 1995. Environment estimation for enhanced impedance control. In Proceedings of the IEEE

International Conference on Robotics and Automation,

pp. 18541859.

Ma, O., Buhariwala, K., Roger, N., MacLean, J., and Carr,

R. 1997. MDSFa generic development and simulation

facility for flexible, complex robotic systems. Robotica,

15:4962.

Seraji, H., and Colbaugh, R. 1997. Force tracking in

impedance control. International Journal of Robotics Research, 16(1):97117.

Singh, S., and Popa, D. 1995. An analysis of some fundamental problems in adaptive control of force and impedance

behavior: Theory and experiments. IEEE Transactions on

Robotics and Automation, 11(6):912921.

Slotine, J.-J., and Li, W. 1991. Applied Nonlinear Control.

Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Van Vliet, J., Sharf, I., and Ma, O. 2000. Experimental validation of contact dynamics simulation of constrained

robotic tasks. International Journal of Robotics Research,

19(12):12031217.

Weber, M., Ma, O., and Sharf, I. 2002. Identification of contact dynamics model parameters from constrained robotic

operations. Presented at DETC02 ASME 2002 Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, Montreal, Canada,

September.

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