Improved manipulator configurations for grasping and task completion based on manipulability
Williams, Joshua Murry
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When a robotic system executes a task, there are a number of responsibilities that belong to either the operator and/or the robot. A more autonomous system has more responsibilities in the completion of a task and must possess the decision making skills necessary to adequately deal with these responsibilities. The system must also handle environmental constraints that limit the region of operability and complicate the execution of tasks. There are decisions about the robot’s internal configuration and how the manipulator should move through space, avoid obstacles, and grasp objects. These motions usually have limits and performance requirements associated with them. Successful completion of tasks in a given environment is aided by knowledge of the robot’s capabilities in its workspace. This not only indicates if a task is possible but can suggest how a task should be completed. In this work, we develop a grasping strategy for selecting and attaining grasp configurations for flexible tasks in environments containing obstacles. This is done by sampling for valid grasping configurations at locations throughout the workspace to generate a task plane. Locations in the task plane that contain more valid configurations are stipulated to have higher dexterity and thus provide greater manipulability of targets. For valid configurations found in the plane, we develop a strategy for selecting which configurations to choose when grasping and/or placing an object at a given location in the workspace. These workspace task planes can also be utilized as a design tool to configure the system around the manipulator’s capabilities. We determine the quality of manipulator positioning in the workspace based on manipulability and locate the best location of targets for manipulation. The knowledge of valid manipulator configurations throughout the workspace can be used to extend the application of task planes to motion planning between grasping configurations. This guides the end-effector through more dexterous workspace regions and to configurations that move the arm away from obstacles. The task plane technique employed here accurately captures a manipulator’s capabilities. Initial tests for exploiting these capabilities for system design and operation were successful, thus demonstrating this method as a viable starting point for incrementally increasing system autonomy.
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