Dexterity, workspace and performance analysis of the conceptual design of a novel three-legged, redundant, lightweight, compliant, serial-parallel robot

In this article, the mechanical design and analysis of a novel three-legged, agile robot with passively compliant 4-degrees-of-freedom legs, comprising a hybrid topology of serial, planar and spherical parallel structures, is presented. The design aims to combine the established principle of the Spring Loaded Inverted Pendulum model for energy efficient locomotion with the accuracy and strength of parallel mechanisms for manipulation tasks. The study involves several kinematics and Jacobian based analyses that specifically evaluate the application of a non-overconstrained spherical parallel manipulator as a robot hip joint, decoupling impact forces and actuation torques, suitable for the requirements of legged locomotion. The dexterity is investigated with respect to joint limits and workspace boundary contours, showing that the mechanism stays well conditioned and allows for a sufficient range of motion. Based on the functional redundancy of the constrained serial-parallel architecture it is furthermore revealed that the robot allows for the exploitation of optimal leg postures, resulting in the possible optimization of actuator load distribution and accuracy improvements. Consequently, the workspace of the robot torso as additional end-effector is investigated for the possible application of object manipulation tasks. Results reveal the existence of a sufficient volume applicable for spatial motion of the torso in the statically stable tripodal posture. In addition, a critical load estimation is derived, which yields a posture dependent performance index that evaluates the risks of overload situations for the individual actuators.


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