Robotic arms and legs provide robots with reach and the ability to affect the robot’s position and its environment. This book examines the process of controlling and tracking robotic limbs. It includes a CD that comes with VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) software that can be used to visualize robotic models providing an invaluable interactive tool.
Familiarity with matrix algebra is a must, but not much else is required. Appendices cover the math and trig used in the book from a review standpoint so the book will still be useful to those of us who might be a little rusty in this area. A VRML overview is also at the back in case you are unfamiliar with this standard.
The book starts out with a good overview of 3D and robot modeling. It then gets interesting when it starts covering forward and inverse kinematics. Most of the examples deal with simpler two- and three joint-robot arms that are very common in assembly lines and other production environments.
Robotic arms with higher degrees of freedom (DoF) are becoming more common and chapters are dedicated specifically to arms with 4, 5, and 6 joints. The KAPS program, which is included on the CD is written by the author, handles 5 DoF. A corresponding program handles 6 DoF.
Getting the arms into position is just one of many problems associated with robotic arms. Things get more complex when the velocity must be coordinated with other actions. The book does not address the latter in detail, but it does provide the basis for understanding the problems and implications as well as the basics for tracking movement speed. The last chapter touches on redundant arms as well as singularities—hand positions that are unique.
Those interested in the practical use of robotic arms will find this book to be extremely useful. It is easy to read and the bundled tools are easy to use, making it an excellent learning resource.
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