Nonlinear Disturbance Observer Design For Robotic Manipulators

Robotic manipulators are highly nonlinear and coupled systems that are subject to different types of disturbances such as joint frictions, unknown payloads, varying contact points, and unmodeled dynamics. These disturbances, when unaccounted for, adversely affect the performance of the manipulator. Employing a disturbance observer is a common method to reject such disturbances. In addition to disturbance rejection, disturbance observers can be used in force control applications. Recently, research has been done regarding the design of nonlinear disturbance observers (NLDOs) for robotic manipulators. In spite of good results in terms of disturbance tracking, the previously designed nonlinear disturbance observers can merely be used for planar serial manipulators with revolute joints [Chen, W. H., Ballance, D. J., Gawthorp, P. J., O'Reilly, J. (2000). A nonlinear disturbance observer for robotic manipulators. IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, 47 (August (4)), 932–938; Nikoobin, A., Haghighi, R. (2009). Lyapunov-based nonlinear disturbance observer for serial n-link manipulators. Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, 55 (July (2–3)), 135–153]. In this paper, a general systematic approach is proposed to solve the disturbance observer design problem for robotic manipulators without restrictions on the number of degrees-of-freedom (DOFs), the types of joints, or the manipulator configuration. Moreover, this design method does not need the exact dynamic model of the serial robotic manipulator. This method also unifies the previously proposed linear and nonlinear disturbance observers in a general framework. Simulations are presented for a 4-DOF SCARA manipulator to show the effectiveness of the proposed disturbance observer design method. Experimental results using a PHANToM Omni haptic device further illustrate the effectiveness of the design method.