Unknown External Force Estimation and Collision Detection for a Cooperative Robot

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SUMMARY: In human-robot cooperative industrial manipulators, safety issues are crucial. To control force safely, contact force information is necessary. Since force/torque sensors are expensive and hard to integrate into the robot design, estimation methods are used to estimate external forces. In this paper, the goal is to estimate external forces acting on the end-effector of the robot. The forces at the task space affect the joint space torques. Therefore, by employing an observer to estimate the torques, the task space forces can be obtained. To accomplish this, loadcells are employed to compute the net torques at the joints. The considered observers are extended Kalman filter (EKF) and nonlinear disturbance observer (NDOB). Utilizing the computed torque obtained based on the loadcells measurements and the observer, the estimates of external torques applied on the robot end-effector can be achieved. Moreover, to improve the degree of safety, an algorithm is proposed to distinguish between intentional contact force from an operator and accidental collisions. The proposed algorithms are demonstrated on a robot, namely WallMoBot, which is designed to help the operator to install heavy glass panels. Simulation results and preliminary experimental results are presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed methods in estimating the joint space torques generated by the external forces applied to the WallMoBot end-effector and to distinguish between the user-input force and accidental collisions.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1665-1681
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Collision detection
  • Cooperative robot
  • Extended Kalman filter (EKF)
  • External force estimation
  • Nonlinear Disturbance Observer (NDOB)

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