Sustainable manufacturing is the future of the industry. More and more system and machine need to be employed in this field to increase the productivity and quality. In recent years, smart materials become a constant choice of many researcher to actively innovate the design and manufacture process of these kind of commercial machinery. This project from VGU on the tele-manipulator is an example for the success of smart material application.

1. General information

Project title: Design and manufacture of 4-DOF tele-manipulator with force/moment feedback system featuring smart materials
Code number: KYTH-114
Coordinator: Nguyen Quoc Hung
Implementing institution: Vietnamese German University
Duration: from 6/2018 to 12/2019
Design and manufacture a 4-DOF tele-manipulator with force/moment feedback system using smart material (MR fluid) based brakes

2. Creativeness and innovativeness in using smart materials

There have been many studies on force feedback mechanisms and some have been commercialized. In the past, most force feedback systems used electric motors and pneumatic actuators to reflect the force and torque in the working environment to the operator. The basic disadvantages of the electric motor feedback system are the bulky structure, slow response time, and low mobility. In recent years, with the strong development of research and application of smart materials, especially MR fluid, there have been a number of researches on force feedback mechanism using MR fluid. Simulation and empirical results from these studies have shown that MR fluid liked smart material has the potential to be applied in force feedback mechanisms. Although there have been a number of studies on MR fluid based force feedback systems, here are very few studies on the development of feedback systems for industrial robots that are widely used.

In 2016, PhD Nguyen Ngoc Diep and I successfully conducted the research project “Research, design and manufacture of a tele-manipulator with force feedback”. However, the ability to feedback the force from the working end-effector of the Slave to the operator of the Master is not good due to the large friction force and due to the implicit reverse problem to determine the torque at the joints of the mechanical arm. This is because the Master arm in that study is a 3-DOF Elbow manipulating mechanism.

In this study, utilizing the smart materials, we proposed a new 4-DOF tele-manipulator system featuring a spherical master manipulator, 3 rotary MR brakes and one linear MR brake. With this type of master mechanism, the basic disadvantages of the master elbow manipulator are overcome. The feedback forces can be controlled independently so it is convenient for precise control of the desired forces acting on the operator. In addition, this Master mechanism is very convenient to attach an MRF brake at the end to feedback the rolling torque.


The usage of MR fluid smart material create new direction for the project

3. Research results

After completing this research project, we have achieved the following results
– Proposing the configuration and working principle of force feedback featuring a master spherical mechanism and MR brakes (smart material MR fluid).
– Design of 4-DOF master and slave systems integrated force feedback mechanism with maximum feedback force up to 40N, feedback torque up to 5Nm.
– Develop a position and force feedback controller for the Master-Slave system
– Manufacturing the Master-Slave system with force feedback
– Develop an experimental system to evaluate the performance of the Master-Slave system
– Training 01 Master student
– Publications related to the topic.

4. Products:

a) Scientific products
– 01 ISI article
– 02 domestic / international conferences
– 02 international articles (Scopus)
– 01 domestic article

b) Applied Products
– A detailed drawings of the 4-DOF tele-manipulator system with smart materials force feedback
– A prototype of the 4-DOF tele-manipulator system with force feedback using MR brakes.

5. Transfer alternatives, application institutions, impacts and benefits of research results

a) Transfer method:

Technology transfer – commercialize products

b) Application address:

– Smart materials and system Lab, Vietnamese German University
– Further development for practical applications such as pick-place, assembly in hazardous and dangerous environments when required.

c) Benefits of research results

– Relevant scientific publications contribute to the enhancement of the scientific research position of Vietnam-Germany University. The study also contributed to the training of 01 master student. In addition, the project supports to build a research group on smart materials and systems at Vietnamese-German University. Moreover, the subject’s products can be replicated for research and teaching activities at universities in Vietnam.

– The research results create a new development in remotely controlling industrial robots working in dangerous and hazardous environments with force feedback and bring many applications in future.

– The research results contribute in improving labor efficiency in hazardous environments; contribute to minimize labor accidents affecting human health when working directly in hazardous environments.

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