Motion planning and contact control for a tele-assisted hydraulic underwater robot

D. M. Lane, M. W. Dunnigan, A. W. Quinn, A. C. Clegg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Implementing tele-assistance or supervisory control for autonomous subsea robots requires atomic actions that can be called from high level task planners or mission managers. This paper reports on the design and implementation of a particular atomic action for the case of a subsea robot carrying out tasks in contact with the surrounding environment. Subsea vehicles equipped with manipulators can have upward of 11 degrees of freedom (DOF), with degenerate and redundant inverse kinematics. Distributed local motion planning is presented as a means to specify the motion of each robot DOF given a goal point or trajectory. Results are presented to show the effectiveness of the distributed versus non-distributed approach, a means to deal with local minima difficulties, and the performance for trajectory following with and without saturated joint angles on a robot arm. Consideration is also given to the modelling of hydraulic underwater robots and to the resulting design of hybrid position/force control strategies. A model for a hydraulically actuated robot is developed, taking into account the electrohydraulic servovalve, the bulk modulus of oil, piston area, friction, hose compliance and other arm parameters. Open and closed-loop control results are reported for simulated and real systems. Finally, the use of distributed motion planning and sequential position/force control of a Slingsby TA-9 hydraulic underwater manipulator is described, to implement an atomic action for tele-assistance. The specific task of automatically positioning and inserting a Tronic subsea mateable connector is illustrated, with results showing the contact conditions during insertion. © 1996 Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-251
Number of pages19
JournalAutonomous Robots
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Automatic insertion
  • Dynamic models
  • Hybrid position/force control
  • Hydraulic manipulators
  • Motion planning
  • Subsea robot


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