Kinematic Characterisation of Hexapods for Industry

Abstract : Purpose-The aim of this paper is to propose two simple tools for the kinematic characterization of hexapods. The paper also aims to share the authors' experience with converting a popular commercial motion base (Stewart-Gough platform, hex-apod) to an industrial robot for use in heavy duty aerospace manufacturing processes. Design/methodology/approach-The complete workspace of a hexapod is a six-dimensional entity that is impossible to visualize. Thus, nearly all hexapod manufacturers simply state the extrema of each of the six dimensions, which is very misleading. As a compromise, we propose a special three-dimensional subset of the complete workspace, an approximation of which can be readily obtained using a CAD/CAM software suite, such as CATIA. While calibration techniques for serial robots are readily available, there is still no generally-agreed procedure for calibrating hexapods. We propose a simple calibration method that relies on the use of a laser tracker and requires no programming at all. Instead, the design parameters of the hexapod are directly and individually measured and the few computations involved are performed in a CAD/CAM software such as CATIA. Findings-The conventional octahedral hexapod design has a very limited workspace, though free of singularities. There are important deviations between the actual and the specified kinematic model in a commercial motion base. Practical implications-A commercial motion base can be used as a precision positioning device with its controller retrofit-ted with state-of-the-art motion control technology with accurate workspace and geometric characteristics. Originality/value-A novel geometric approach for obtaining meaningful measures of the workspace is proposed. A novel, systematic procedure for the calibration of a hexapod is outlined. Finally, experimental results are presented and discussed.
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J. Blaise, Ilian Bonev, B. Montsarrat, Sébastien Briot, M. Lambert, et al.. Kinematic Characterisation of Hexapods for Industry. Industrial Robot: An International Journal, Emerald, 2010, 37 (1), pp.79-88. ⟨hal-00461696⟩

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