Design and analysis of a three degrees of freedom (DOF) parallel manipulator with decoupled motions
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Parallel manipulators have been the subject of study of much robotic research during the past three decades. A parallel manipulator typically consists of a moving platform that is connected to a fixed base by at least two kinematic chains in parallel. Parallel manipulators can provide several attractive advantages over their serial counterpart in terms of high stiffness, high accuracy, and low inertia, which enable them to become viable alternatives for wide applications. But parallel manipulators also have some disadvantages, such as complex forward kinematics, small workspace, complicated structures, and a high cost. To overcome the above shortcomings, progress on the development of parallel manipulators with less than 6-DOF has been accelerated. However, most of presented parallel manipulators have coupled motion between the position and orientation of the end-effector. Therefore, the kinematic model is complex and the manipulator is difficult to control. Only recently, research on parallel manipulators with less than six degrees of freedom has been leaning toward the decoupling of the position and orientation of the end-effector, and this has really interested scientists in the area of parallel robotics. Kinematic decoupling for a parallel manipulator is that one motion of the up-platform only corresponds to input of one leg or one group of legs. And the input cannot produce other motions. Nevertheless, to date, the number of real applications of decoupled motion actuated parallel manipulators is still quite limited. This is partially because effective development strategies of such types of closed-loop structures are not so obvious. In addition, it is very difficult to design mechanisms with complete decoupling, but it is possible for fewer DOF parallel manipulators. To realize kinematic decoupling, the parallel manipulators are needed to possess special structures; therefore, investigating a parallel manipulator with decoupling motion remains a challenging task. This thesis deals with lower mobility parallel manipulator with decoupled motions. A novel parallel manipulator is proposed in this thesis. The manipulator consists of a moving platform that is connecting to a fixed base by three legs. Each leg is made of one C (cylinder), one R (revolute) and one U (universal) joints. The mobility of the manipulator and structure of the inactive joint are analyzed. Kinematics of the manipulator including inverse and forward kinematics, velocity equation, kinematic singularities, and stiffness are studied. The workspace of the parallel manipulator is examined. A design optimization is conducted with the prescribed workspace. It has been found that due to the special arrangement of the legs and joints, this parallel manipulator performs three translational degrees of freedom with decoupled motions, and is fully isotropic. This advantage has great potential for machine tools and Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM).