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International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems

ARTICLE

On Numerical Modelling and Error


Compensation
General
On the Numericalfor
Modelling
Gough-Stewart
Platforms
and Error Compensation
for
General Gough-Stewart Platform
Regular Paper
immediate


Eusebio Hernandez1,*, Sergio Ivvan Valdez2 and Eduardo Sanchez3


1 National Polytechnic Institute SEPI ESIME UP Ticoman, Mexico DF, Mexico
2 Center for Research in Mathematics, CIMAT A.C., Guanajuato, Mexico
3 Universidad del Papaloapan, Loma Bonita, Oaxaca, Mexico
* Corresponding author E-mail: euhernandezm@ipn.mx
Received 14 Nov 2013; Accepted 04 Jul 2014
DOI: 10.5772/58849
2014 The Author(s). Licensee InTech. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract Parallel robots are specially designed to perform


high-precision tasks. Nevertheless,
manufacturing,
assembling and control issues can reduce their capacity to
perform adequately. Observing the acquired measurement
data with high-precision devices - such as laser-based
instruments - it is not surprising that the error data follows
patterns or have a structure because, in many cases, the
greatest error comes from a mechanical bias introduced by
manufacturing issues. Even though we cannot determine
with certainty where the error comes from, a pattern in
the measured data suggests that it is feasible that it can
be modelled and corrected - in a significant proportion
- by purely software applications, without the need of
disassembling or re-manufacturing any component. This
work deals with the problem of finding a mathematical
model which adequately fits the error data from the
legs of a general Gough-Stewart platform. Hence, we
obtain an expression which can be subtracted from the
control parameters in order to compensate the inherent
mechanical error in the legs. The purpose of this article is
two-fold: 1) to present numerical results of the beneficial
effects of the error compensation in the legs as well
as in the end-effector, and 2) to introduce a numerical
methodology to find a model for error compensation and
to numerically simulate its effects. Numerical, graphical

and statistical evidence of the error improvements,


according this methodology, is provided.
Keywords Parallel Robots, Modelling, Error Simulation,
Compensation

1. Introduction
Parallel robots have become an excellent solution for
applications where precise positioning and orientation are
needed. Although their workspace is limited as compared
to serial robots, parallel robots take advantage of their
dynamic stability, high stiffness and high pose accuracy.
Therefore, they are suited to very precise applications,
such as machine tools, surgery devices and scientific
instruments, like radio-astronomy telescopes. Due to
their design, there is no one-to-one relationship between
controllable variables and degrees-of-freedom (DOF), and
each controllable variable affects all DOFs (and vice
versa). Therefore, the determination of an end-effector
pose requires special algorithms. Besides the complexity
of the mechanisms kinematics, the pose error depends
mainly on the accuracy of the actuators, the control scheme
and the elastic deformations.
Eusebio Hernandez, Sergio
and Eduardo
Sanchez:
On10.5772/58849
the Numerical
Int Ivvan
J Adv Valdez
Robot Syst,
2014, 11:179
| doi:
Modelling and Error Compensation for General Gough-Stewart Platform

One application where high accuracy is needed is in


machine tools. In this area, a large number of strategies
for error modelling and compensation have been studied
and can be considered as consolidated [1, 2]. There are a lot
of works dealing with the accuracy of serial manipulators
and conventional machine tools. Error modelling, studies
of manufacturing and assembly errors on pose accuracy
and different calibration approaches are examples of topics
in these areas. In contrast, in order that a parallel robot can
be applied as a machine tool, calibration strategies should
be clearly defined [3]. Conventional machine tools consist
on three mutually orthogonal axes and two perpendicular
rotating axes. Each DOF moves independently, and each
is controlled by a separate driver. Thus, the kinematics
and dynamics models are simpler than in a parallel
robot. For parallel robots, the pose and twist of the
end-effector depend on the simultaneous movement of
every driver, and the kinematic function that relates each
of the individual joints contributes to the accuracy of the
moving platform. The global error of the end-effector
is the main concern. This error could be a function of
many error sources, and there is no unique method for
estimating the actual pose. The most significant error
sources can be classified as manufacturing errors, joint
run-out, ball screw deviations, transmission errors, elastic
and thermal deformations, sensor accuracy, and algorithm
and truncation errors. Manufacturing errors are caused by
geometrical deviations of machined parts and assembly
errors. Joint run-outs are a combination of a joints gaps
and assembly errors and the joint movement. Elastic
deformations are produced by external and gravitational
loads applied to the links. Thus, they are a function of the
posture of the mechanism. They can be compensated only
if the elastic deformation of the robot can be characterized
[4]. Pose and twist sensors usually have a defined accuracy
and, in many cases, the error are small enough so that their
contribution to the pose error is minimal. However, for
very accurate mechanisms, their contribution is significant
and must be taken into consideration. Incidentally, the
kinematic model is one of the main elements of the
control algorithm. It contributes to the pose accuracy with
truncation errors in the kinematic model, control loop and
time response.

of the kinematic model to describe how errors in the real


geometry of the machine components generate parametric
errors in the moving platform. In [7] it was emphasized
that the kinematic and dynamic behaviour of a parallel
mechanism is strongly influenced by joint geometrical
errors due to manufacturing tolerances and assembly
errors. In [8] it was reported that the spherical joints
distance located at the leg end - which is the leg
length - is fundamental for platform accuracy positioning.
This condition is critical in the actual position of the
moving platform, and it was also found in the present
work. In [9] it was established kinematic modelling
and error modelling using the Jacobian matrix method
for a TAU robot.
In [10] it is described an error
compensation method for parallel mechanisms.
He
identified two types of errors, namely those related to
elastic and thermal deformations, and those related to
manufacturing deviations and backlash. In [11] it is
presented a geometric approach for the computation of
local maximum position and orientation errors. They
used actuator inaccuracies as input errors. In [12] it
is proposed a method for estimating the accuracy of
three-DOF planar parallel robots. In [13] it was predicted
the pose errors that are caused by joint clearances. In
[14] it was proposed a new calibration method. Their
method allows for the identification of joint offsets through
the evaluation of the legs parallelism with respect to
the ground reference plane. In [15] it was developed a
calibration algorithm based on constraining two of the
orientation angles. They measured the orientation of the
moving platform with two precise inclinometers (biaxial
inclinometer) and through the kinematic model they found
the actual overall position. These kinds of measurement
devices are less frequently used, and while they are more
accurate, they are also more expensive. More recently, an
approach for modelling quasi-static errors in a five-axis
Gantry machine tool was presented in [16]. Quasi-static
error is a common classification for geometric, kinematic
and external load-induced errors. In sum, the task of
characterizing and modelling errors and using them in a
software compensation system can be considered to be a
transcendental step in enhancing the accuracy of parallel
robots.

Usually, error compensation methods can be divided into


two areas: 1) hardware and mechanical methods, and
2) Software methods. The first class of approaches uses
compensation error procedures through some mechanical
means. Software approaches to compensating errors
become useful when it is difficult to implement the
hardware or mechanical methods. Their main advantage
is that they can be implemented without the need for the
disassembly or re-manufacture of any component of the
robotic system.

This paper presents a methodology to compensate for the


leg errors of general Gough-Stewart platforms. It includes
a mathematical error model which adequately fits the
measurement of the displacement errors for the six legs of
a parallel platform. It is well known that the effectiveness
of error compensation approaches relies heavily on the
error model. With this model, the modelled compensation
function can be considered in a control scheme in order
to compensate the inherent mechanical and displacement
errors in the legs. Numerical results of the beneficial effects
of the error compensation in the legs as well as in the
end-effector pose are reported.

As for so-called parallel kinematic machines (PKMs), in


[5] it is attributed the source of errors to the uncertainties
of the theoretical model, such as the coordinates of the
base and moving platform joint centres, as well as the link
lengths in the initial position. In [6] it was reported the
measurement and analysis of geometrical errors through
a kinematic model and experimental measurements using
conventional metrology tools. He used variation analysis
2

Int J Adv Robot Syst, 2014, 11:179 | doi: 10.5772/58849

The rest of this paper is structured as follows: the


second section is concerned with the Gough-Stewart
platform and its problems; the third section describes
the measured displacement errors, the process and the
instruments employed to obtain them; the fourth section
explains the proposed modelling error technique; the fifth

section describes the process suggested to compensate


the measurement differences; and finally, the last section
provides the conclusions of this paper.
2. The Gough-Stewart platform and its kinematics

1, ..., 6). In consequence, the inverse kinematic problem for


the Stewart platform can be easily solved. On the other
hand, the direct kinematics problem of the general Stewart
platform cannot be algebraically solved. In this work, we
employ a method to numerically solve this problem.

With the aim of describing useful applications of parallel


mechanisms, the secondary mirror positioner of modern
millimetre radio-telescopes can be employed as an
illustrative example. These radio-telescopes have a large
parabolic mirror (from 30 m to 100 m) that concentrates
radiation into a secondary mirror. The secondary mirror
must keep the focus length within a tolerance of less than
10 m, and an orientation tolerance of less than 1 arc-sec.
Since a positioner mechanism is intended as a highly
precise scientific instrument, the Gough-Stewart platform
architecture can be selected as being suitable (see Figure
1). Its kinematic configuration consists of a fixed plate
connected by six driving legs to a moving platform.

a)

b)
Figure 2. A leg for a Gough-Stewart platform: a) actual leg, b) a

CAD model and main parts

3. Measurement of the displacement errors and modelling

a)

b)

Figure 1. General Gough-Stewart-based parallel platform:


a) actual platform, b) a scheme of the platform

Each leg has an actuated prismatic joint, a spherical joint at


the fixed end, and a universal joint at the moving end. The
fixed and mobile platforms have the same dimensions. In
order to improve the mechanisms stability, the spherical
and universal joints were located as close as possible such
that they form triangular structures, as shown in Figure
1. Each actuator consists of a servo motor connected to
an almost zero-backlash gearbox, and the piston rod is
moved through a zero-backlash ball screw, as shown in
Figure 2. The ball screw is mounted on high-precision
rolling bearings.
In Equation 1, E = [ x, y, z, , , ] represents the position
and the orientation parameters of the mobile platform
in the moving frame. When E is given, the problem of
computing the length of each leg, L = [ L1 , ..., L6 ], is known
as the inverse kinematic problem, as denoted by the next
equation:
L = F(E)
(1)
where F represents the inverse kinematic function of the
general Stewart platform. Notice that the position E is a
function of the location of the mobile platforms joints, Pj ,
and the location of the fixed platform joints, Bj , for ( j =

The desired accuracy of the control system is achieved


by having a redundant encoder measurement. The main
encoder is a linear encoder that measures the actual leg
displacement. For each leg, the difference between the
commanded leg length and the actual length has been
measured. The difference was measured with a laser
interferometer with 0.1 m nominal accuracy, [17]. The
calibration equipment is shown in Figure 3. It consists of a
leg, a laser and an interferometer.
The ball screw is the element with the largest displacement
error; it has a linear deviation of 9 m/m.

Figure 3.
Data acquisition with calibration equipment
RENISHAW ML10

For each leg, six sets of 361 measurement differences were


obtained. The length of each leg is variable depending
on a ball screw actuator, thus, in order to take the
Eusebio Hernandez, Sergio Ivvan Valdez and Eduardo Sanchez: On the Numerical
Modelling and Error Compensation for General Gough-Stewart Platform

1.5
1.5
1
1

0.5

error

error

0.5
0.5

0
1

1.5

0.5

2
1
2.5

1.5
0

50

100

150

200

250

300

350

400

50

100

150

200

measures

250

300

350

400

250

300

350

400

250

300

350

400

measures

Leg 1

Leg 2

0.2

0.2
1

0.4

error

errors

0
0.6

1
0.8

2
1

1.2

1.4
0

50

100

150

200

250

300

350

400

50

100

150

200

measures

measures

Leg 3

Leg 4

2.5

3.5

3
1.5
2.5

errors

errors

1
2

1.5

0.5

0
1
0.5
0.5

0.5

1.5
0

50

100

150

200

250

300

350

400

50

100

150

200

measures

measures

Leg 5

Leg 6

Figure 4. A set of displacement error measures of the six legs for the Gough-Stewart platform. The units are micrometres.

measurements, they are positioned for having the half


of the maximum length. Hence, these displacements are
relative to this position. A set of these measured errors is
presented in Figure 4. As can be observed, they seem quite
similar, with small changes in the scale and the y position
(error axis). The lengths of the legs are controlled by using
the ball screw actuator as mentioned before; as a result,
it is logical that a mechanism which has been similarly
manufactured should also share the same mechanical bias.
Fortunately, the error presents a pattern - by graphical
analysis, one can observe that the errors can be seen as
a sum of periodic functions. Hence, the purpose of this
section is to find a explicit mathematical function which
represents the displacement error and can be used to
compensate for it.
The Fourier transform constitutes a well-known approach
to obtaining the frequency components from a given
4

Int J Adv Robot Syst, 2014, 11:179 | doi: 10.5772/58849

signal. In our case, given the characteristics of the


measured displacement errors, the discrete Fourier
transform (DFT) is used (see Equation 2). The DFT
transforms a defined function into a finite discrete interval
of the frequency domain representation.By using Equation
2, a set of N complex numbers is transformed into another
set of N numbers. Only the first half of the vector delivered
by Equation 2 is useful, considering that the second half is
only a reflection of the first:

Fk =

N 1

n =0

f n ei2 N n

(2)

In Equation 2, Fk represent the amplitude and phase of


the different sinusoidal components of the input function.
The amplitude of each component in the frequency
domain is computed according Equation 3, the phase

Error Leg 2

0.5
0.0

Error (mm)

1.5

1.0

0.5

Error (mm)

1.0

1.5

Error Leg 1

50

50

50

Length (micrometers)

50

Length (micrometers)

Error Leg 3

0.2
0.0
0.6

0.4

0.2

0
1

Error (mm)

Error (micrometers)

0.4

Error Leg 4

50

50

50

Error Leg 6

1
1

Error (mm)

Error Leg 5

Error (mm)

50

Length (micrometers)

Length (micrometers)

50

50

50

Length (micrometers)

50

Length (micrometers)

Figure 5. Compensation for displacement leg errors of the Gough-Stewart platform: brown lines - set of measured data for each leg; blue

line - error compensation function; red line - mean of compensated displacement errors; green lines - compensated errors for each set of
measures; black lines - plus and minus of the standard deviation for the compensated displacement errors. N.B. The units are micrometres.
Error Leg 3

Re( Fk )2 + Im( Fk )2 ,

k = arg( Fk ) = arctan ( Im( Fk ), Re( Fk )),

(3)

(4)

Error (mm)

Ak = | Fk | =

wk = k,

50

50

Length (micrometers)

k = 0..N 1.

(5)

Once the Fourier transform is obtained, the original data


can be sampled from Equation 6, which uses the attained
parameters:

Figure 6. Original displacement error of Leg 3, the compensation


function and the compensated error

f (t) =
is computed according to Equation 4, and finally, the
matched frequency is obtained with Equation 5:

f or

Ak cos(2k t + k ).

(6)

k =1

Eusebio Hernandez, Sergio Ivvan Valdez and Eduardo Sanchez: On the Numerical
Modelling and Error Compensation for General Gough-Stewart Platform

20
0

Error (micrometers)

Histogram, error of Leg 2

Histogram, corrected error of Leg 2

20
15
10
0

10

15

Frequency

20

25

Error (micrometers)

0.5

0.0

0.5

1.0

1.0

0.5

0.0

0.5

1.0

Error (micrometers)

Histogram, error of Leg 3

Histogram, corrected error of Leg 3

20
15
5
0

10

15

Frequency

20

25

Error (micrometers)

25

1.0

10

Frequency

15
5
0

25

Frequency

10

Frequency

15
10
0

Frequency

20

25

Histogram, corrected error of Leg 1

25

Histogram, error of Leg 1

0.0

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

Error (micrometers)

0.0

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

Error (micrometers)

Figure 7. Histogram of the leg errors of the Gough-Stewart platform, Legs 1-3. Left: original displacement error. Right: compensated

error.

In order to use Equations 2, 3, 4 and 6 in our context,


it should be noted that: the signal { xn , f n } is the
displacement error data, xn is the length of a given leg
and f n is the corresponding error at that position. As can
be observed, function 6, which is used to rebuild the error
function, does not depend on the legs length xn directly.
Therefore, a transformation must be applied following
Equation 7. It needs the position of the half of the leg
(which is the same as used for measurement differences),
but in its nominal value:
6

Int J Adv Robot Syst, 2014, 11:179 | doi: 10.5772/58849

t = 2( x 1095.84992501338 + 90)/N.

(7)

Once frequencies, phases and amplitudes are found, the


most important among them are selected in order to
reduce the model complexity. This is achieved by reducing
the number of involved parameters - in this case, we
use the most important 100 parameters of amplitudes,
frequencies and phases. The resulting model of the sums
of the cosines can then be used to correct or compensate the

20
0.2

0.4

0.6

0.4

0.2

0.0

0.2

0.4

0.6

Error (micrometers)

Error (micrometers)

Histogram, error of Leg 5

Histogram, corrected error of Leg 5

20
15
0

10

Frequency

20
15
10
0

Histogram, error of Leg 6

Histogram, corrected error of Leg 6

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15
5
0

10

15

Frequency

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25

Error (micrometers)

25

Error (micrometers)

10

Frequency

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5
0

0.0

25

0.2

25

0.4

Frequency

10

Frequency

15
10
0

Frequency

20

25

Histogram, corrected error of Leg 4

25

Histogram, error of Leg 4

2.0

1.5

1.0

0.5

0.0

0.5

1.0

Error (micrometers)

2.0

1.5

1.0

0.5

0.0

0.5

1.0

Error (micrometers)

Figure 8. Histogram of the leg errors of the Gough-Stewart platform, Legs 4-6. Left: original displacement error. Right: compensated

error.

displacement error in the legs. The complete methodology


to compute the model using the Fourier transform is
presented in Algorithm 1. It is executed for each leg. The
input is a pair of vectors x and f. x are the displacements
of a given leg and f is the corresponding error for that leg.
In Step 1, we compute the mean of the error; in Step 2,
the mean is used to translate the error to zero. It is to
see that this step removes the average bias of the leg. In
Step 3, the Fourier transform is computed and stored in F.
Using the Fourier transform, we compute the amplitudes

in Step 4, the phases in Step 5, and the corresponding


frequencies w in Step 6. The greatest amplitudes are
those which contribute the most to representing the error.
The algorithm returns the amplitudes with the highest
contribution as well as the phases, frequencies and the
average error (this information is actually a mathematical
model of the measured error). If the measured error is
always the same, this model is a perfect representation
and can be used to compensate the error perfectly. Hence,
the difference between the model and the real error
Eusebio Hernandez, Sergio Ivvan Valdez and Eduardo Sanchez: On the Numerical
Modelling and Error Compensation for General Gough-Stewart Platform

20
15
0

10

Frequency

15
10
0

Frequency

20

25

Histogram, corrected error of X

25

Histogram, error of X

Error (micrometers)

25
20
15
10
0

10

15

Frequency

20

25

Histogram, corrected error of Y

Frequency

Error (micrometers)

Histogram, error of Y

Error (micrometers)

Error (micrometers)

20
15
10
5
0

10

15

Frequency

20

25

Histogram, corrected error of Z

25

Histogram, error of Z

Frequency

1.0

0.5

0.0

0.5

Error (micrometers)

1.0

0.5

0.0

0.5

Error (micrometers)

Figure 9. Histogram of the end-effector position errors for the Gough-Stewart platform. Left: original error. Right: compensated error.

results because each time it is measured, the measurement


is different (but similar). The more that similar each
measurement is to every other, the more efficient the
proposed methodology will be.
Additionally, graphical evidence of the procedures results
are shown in Figure 5. For each leg, the graphs correspond
to six sets of measured displacement errors, the error
modelling function and the statistical treatment of the
compensated displacement errors. From Leg 4 in Figure

Int J Adv Robot Syst, 2014, 11:179 | doi: 10.5772/58849

5, we can note that when the displacement errors exhibit


random behaviour, it is difficult to compensate for them.
In contrast, when the displacement errors present a
defined pattern, it is easier to compensate for them, as
can be seen for Legs 2, 3 and 5 in Figure 5. A possible
explanation of such deterministic patterns is the physical
error introduced by the leg screw; hence, it is quite
possible to find this kind of deterministic pattern in the
errors, and in consequence it is an adequate assumption
that this error can be compensated for by a deterministic

20
15
0

10

Frequency

15
10
0

Frequency

20

25

Histogram, corrected error of Angle 1

25

Histogram, error of Angle 1

0.001

0.000

0.001

0.002

0.003

0.004

0.005

0.001

0.000

Error (radians)

0.002

0.003

0.004

0.005

Error (radians)

20
15
10
5
0

10

15

Frequency

20

25

Histogram, corrected error of Angle 2

25

Histogram, error of Angle 2

Frequency

0.001

0.002

0.000

0.002

0.004

0.002

Error (radians)

0.000

0.002

0.004

Error (radians)

Figure 10. Histogram of the end-effector orientation errors for the Gough-Stewart platform. Left: original error. Right: compensated

error.

Input: A pair of vectors x and f, { xn , f n } for n = 1..N.


Where x are the displacements of a single leg and f
is the associated error. For each position, xn
corresponds to an error value f n . The algorithm is
executed once for each leg of the parallel robot.
/* Centering the data around 0.
*/
1. f mean mean(f);
2. f f f mean ;
/* Compute the Fourier transform.
*/
3. F f f t(f);
/* Compute the amplitudes.
*/
4. A Mod( F [1 : ( N/2)]);
/* Compute the phases.
*/
5. Arg( F [1 : ( N/2)]);
/* Compute the frequencies.
*/
6. (0 : ( N/2 1)) /* Select the indexes of
the greatest amplitudes.
*/
7. ix sort( A, increasing, return.index );
/* Returns the M data with the greatest
amplitudes and the mean of the original
function.
*/
return A[ix [1 : M ]], [ix [1 : M ]], [ix [1 : M ]], f mean
Algorithm 1: Parameter computation for modelling the
displacement leg errors as a sum of cosines

Table 1. Range and absolute value of the errors for the original
data and for the compensated error. | Error |= Error absolute
value. N.B. The units are micrometres.

Eusebio Hernandez, Sergio Ivvan Valdez and Eduardo Sanchez: On the Numerical
Modelling and Error Compensation for General Gough-Stewart Platform

periodic function, such as the Fourier transform proposed


in this work. The relevance of obtaining such an error
compensation function is that it can be used in a control
scheme.
The Figure 6 shows the original displacement error,
the compensation function and the resulting error
when subtracting the compensation function defined in
Equation 6 from the original error. Notice that the error
compensation function and the measured error are quite
similar. The following section completes the procedure for
the error compensation for the end-effector.
4. Error compensation in the legs and the end-effector
pose
Using the methodology just described, we compute the
compensation function according to Equation 6. The
results of compensating for the displacement leg errors are
described in Table 1.
In order to show the advantages of the methodology
just presented in this article, we perform the following
experiments:
Generate random configurations of the end-effector
by using the inverse kinematics and finding the
corresponding leg lengths.
If the leg lengths are within the range of the measures,
then we use the error data and linear interpolation to
sum the corresponding error for each leg.
Solve the direct kinematics for the new lengths in order
to determine the end-effector coordinates and angles,
and store the values for the comparison presented
below.
Use the compensation function in Equation 6 to
compensate for the displacement error, solve the
inverse kinematics with the compensated lengths, and
store the values for the comparison presented below.
Following the steps given above, we can analyse the
resulting error in the legs by observing the histograms
presented in Figures 7 and 8. The left side shows the
frequencies of the errors before compensation, and the
right side after compensation. As can be seen, very similar
compensation is achieved in the legs as achieved in the
end-effector.
The range of the error is somewhat lower in the
compensated error than in the original.
The compensated error is closer to 0 than the original.
The compensated highest frequencies in the
compensated histogram error are higher than the
highest frequencies in the original error histogram.
This is important if we consider that the compensated
error has the highest frequencies around 0. Hence,
most of the measures are adequately compensated for.
As can be observed, the methodology just presented not
only diminishes the error but in addition it changes the
pattern. We can infer this behaviour by looking at Figure
6, where we can observe that the original error data has a
pattern and the resulting compensated function seems to
be a kind of random function.

10 Int J Adv Robot Syst, 2014, 11:179 | doi: 10.5772/58849

Finally, we can analyse how the displacement leg errors


and their corrections affect each of the parameters of the
configuration in the end-effector. The improvement in
position, according to our experiments, is reported in Table
2. Notice that these measures can represent a sample of the
workspace. In this vein, it must be remarked upon that not
all of the randomly generated points can be solved with the
desired precision, as it is very possible that many points
cannot be physically realized. We consider that the direct
kinematics are successfully solved if we get an error norm
that is less than 1 104 using the solver presented in [18].
We tackle the direct kinematics problem for general
Gough-Stewart platforms using a hybrid optimizer.
This is based on probabilistic learning (estimation of
distribution algorithms) by taking advantage of the
adequate generation of starting points for the Dogleg
method, without a priori knowledge.
Notice that the error norm guarantees that the numerical
error for each leg is less than or equal to 1 104 ; thus, we
avoid numerical error biases for the results. Nevertheless,
the results could be biased by the random points used,
due to the configurations that can be used to physically
constrain the possible positions of the legs. As can be seen
in Table 2, the range of the error is nonetheless reduced
significantly and the error average is reduced as well.
The explanation for this is the bias that we considered
above. Hence, by considering specific paths or work areas,
we can find the bias in the positions of the end-effector
and compute a more precise compensation. In addition,
notice that the histograms of the end-effector positions in
Figures 7 and 8 can be centred around zero by simply
applying an arithmetic difference to the compensation. As
mentioned, in this case the histogram is not exactly around
zero because only certain positions can be physically
achieved. If we had known a priori which these points
were (for example, if we had known an a priori path
of the end-effector), then a more precise model could
have been computed. Hence, in practice, if we know
a priori the path or work area of the end-effector, more
Measure
Maximum
original error
Minimum
original error
Maximum
compensated
error
Minimum
compensated
error
Percentage of
range
error
reduction
Average
of
original | Error |
Average
of
compensated
| Error |

x
0.8783

y
0.1403

z
Angle 1 Angle 2
0.3828 3.557e-3 2.88e-3

-3.496

-2.318

-0.6538 3.337e-4 -6.362e-4

-0.3371 -0.1758 -0.07755 1.5e-3

1.14e-3

-0.9698 -0.7050 -0.3047 9.687e-4 8.286e-4


85.54 % 78.47 % 78.08% 83.54% 91.043%
1.202

1.109

0.1886 1.965e-3 1.116e-3

0.6639

0.4520

0.2044 1.274e-3 9.692e-3

Table 2. Measures of the accuracy improvement in the


end-effector pose: x, y, z in micrometres, and Angle 1 and Angle 2
in radians

precise compensation can be calculated for such a path


within the same range of error but actually centred around
zero. The same behaviour can be observed in Figure 10,
where Angle 3 is zero because it has no practical usage in
radio-telescope applications.

In addition, the methodology could be applied to other


mechanisms, wherever it is possible to obtain measured
differences between nominal and actual values of the
link/joint parameters. Finally, a stochastic version of the
method must be proposed.

It is worth noting that the error range in the end-effector


pose is reduced to the same scale as the reduction that we
performed in the legs.

6. Acknowledgements

5. Conclusions
This work presents a methodology to compensate
the displacement leg errors of general Gough-Stewart
platforms. The methodology can be applied to any
parallel mechanism taking into account the following
considerations:
The error data must present a pattern.
This
methodology is intended for deterministic errors which
follow a pattern, as can be seen in Figure 4; the
error does not seem to be generated from underlying
stochastic phenomena but rather from a deterministic
issue. Moreover, the errors are quite similar for the
six legs; hence, the hypothesis that the bias is due
to a mechanical, manufacturing or assembly issue is
quite plausible. These reasons are important because:
1) If the error comes from stochastic phenomena, it
must therefore be modelled as a random variable with
some underlying distribution, and the compensation
effectiveness must be tested according to statistical
evidence. 2) If the error comes from deterministic
phenomena (or else in a greatest proportion), then our a
deterministic function must be represented accurately,
not only according to the data we get from physical
experiments, but also within the whole continuous
range of application. Thus, the interpolation used in
this work makes sense. These two assumptions have
been adopted in this work based on the analysis of the
empirical evidence plotted and discussed throughout
the paper.
The direct and inverse kinematics must be solved with
sufficient accuracy (an least an order of magnitude
lower than the physical error) in order to avoid an
erroneous interpretation of the numerical results.
The number of parameters must be chosen according
to the desired error reduction and the simplicity of the
model. Notice that there is a compromise between
the number of parameters and the error compensation.
If the error data present only low frequencies, few
parameters are needed.
According to our results, the range of each legs error is
reduced by between 80 and 90 %. A similar reduction
is achieved in the end-effector. The numerical, graphical
and statistical measures and plots show that the proposal
reduces the error considerably.
Finally, in the future we will contemplate using different
functions which are not directly derived from the Fourier
transform. Notice that the Fourier transform imposes
the frequencies used for representing the function, and
as such perhaps a simpler model could be used if the
basis functions were different to those used in the Fourier
transform.

Eusebio Hernandez would like to thank SIP IPN for


its financial support, under projects SIP 20121377
and 20144318. The authors are also grateful to
CONACYT-Mexico for supporting part of this project
through grant CB-2011-01-169132.
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