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Kinematics and Local Motion Planning for Quasi-static Whole-body Mobile Manipulation


Shankar, Krishna (2016) Kinematics and Local Motion Planning for Quasi-static Whole-body Mobile Manipulation. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9KK98RX.


This thesis studies mobile robotic manipulators, where one or more robot manipulator arms are integrated with a mobile robotic base. The base could be a wheeled or tracked vehicle, or it might be a multi-limbed locomotor. As robots are increasingly deployed in complex and unstructured environments, the need for mobile manipulation increases. Mobile robotic assistants have the potential to revolutionize human lives in a large variety of settings including home, industrial and outdoor environments.

Mobile Manipulation is the use or study of such mobile robots as they interact with physical objects in their environment. As compared to fixed base manipulators, mobile manipulators can take advantage of the base mechanism’s added degrees of freedom in the task planning and execution process. But their use also poses new problems in the analysis and control of base system stability, and the planning of coordinated base and arm motions. For mobile manipulators to be successfully and efficiently used, a thorough understanding of their kinematics, stability, and capabilities is required. Moreover, because mobile manipulators typically possess a large number of actuators, new and efficient methods to coordinate their large numbers of degrees of freedom are needed to make them practically deployable. This thesis develops new kinematic and stability analyses of mobile manipulation, and new algorithms to efficiently plan their motions.

I first develop detailed and novel descriptions of the kinematics governing the operation of multi- limbed legged robots working in the presence of gravity, and whose limbs may also be simultaneously used for manipulation. The fundamental stance constraint that arises from simple assumptions about friction and the ground contact and feasible motions is derived. Thereafter, a local relationship between joint motions and motions of the robot abdomen and reaching limbs is developed. Baseeon these relationships, one can define and analyze local kinematic qualities including limberness, wrench resistance and local dexterity. While previous researchers have noted the similarity between multi- fingered grasping and quasi-static manipulation, this thesis makes explicit connections between these two problems.

The kinematic expressions form the basis for a local motion planning problem that that determines the joint motions to achieve several simultaneous objectives while maintaining stance stability in the presence of gravity. This problem is translated into a convex quadratic program entitled the balanced priority solution, whose existence and uniqueness properties are developed. This problem is related in spirit to the classical redundancy resoxlution and task-priority approaches. With some simple modifications, this local planning and optimization problem can be extended to handle a large variety of goals and constraints that arise in mobile-manipulation. This local planning problem applies readily to other mobile bases including wheeled and articulated bases. This thesis describes the use of the local planning techniques to generate global plans, as well as for use within a feedback loop. The work in this thesis is motivated in part by many practical tasks involving the Surrogate and RoboSimian robots at NASA/JPL, and a large number of examples involving the two robots, both real and simulated, are provided.

Finally, this thesis provides an analysis of simultaneous force and motion control for multi- limbed legged robots. Starting with a classical linear stiffness relationship, an analysis of this problem for multiple point contacts is described. The local velocity planning problem is extended to include generation of forces, as well as to maintain stability using force-feedback. This thesis also provides a concise, novel definition of static stability, and proves some conditions under which it is satisfied.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Kinematics, Robotics, Motion Planning, Legged Robots, Manipulation, Optimization
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Burdick, Joel Wakeman
Thesis Committee:
  • Burdick, Joel Wakeman (chair)
  • Murray, Richard M.
  • Hunt, Melany L.
  • Tropp, Joel A.
  • Hudson, Nicolas H.
Defense Date:4 April 2016
Non-Caltech Author Email:krishnashankar+thesis (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05222016-095145651
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription VideoVideo showing simulated and experimental examples. ItemArticle: Kinematics and methods for combined quasi-static stance/reach planning in multi-limbed robots ItemConf. paper: A Quadratic Programming Approach to Quasi-Static Whole-Body Manipulation ItemArticle: Kinematics for Combined Quasi-Static Force and Motion Control in Multi-Limbed Robots
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9731
Deposited By: Krishna Shankar
Deposited On:16 Jun 2016 20:39
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:13

Thesis Files

PDF (Full thesis) - Final Version
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PDF (Full thesis (compressed)) - Final Version
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[img] Video (MPEG) (Video Supplement to the Thesis (mp4)) - Supplemental Material
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