Motion Planning for Underactuated Mechanical Systems

Professor Kevin Lynch
Mechanical Engineering Department
Northwestern University



We are studying "underactuated" robot systems --- robots with fewer actuators than degrees-of-freedom to be controlled.  Our purpose is to build inexpensive, mechanically simple robots, transferring the complexity of a system to its design and control.  For example, a robot manipulator with just one or two actuators can control the motions of parts with more degrees-of-freedom, performing purposeful manipulation by pushing, rolling, shaking, juggling, and throwing and catching.


This talk will focus on our recent work on trajectory planning for a class of underactuated mechanical systems called "kinematically controllable" systems.  I will describe this new notion of controllability for second-order mechanical control systems, demonstrate how this property simplifies the motion planning problem, and present implementations of the theory on an underactuated robot arm and an underactuated vehicle.



Friday, April 4, 2003

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

1500 EECS