Design and implementation of a modular controller for robotic machines
Atta-Konadu, Rodney Kwaku Chapman
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This research focused on the design and implementation of an Intelligent Modular Controller (IMC) architecture designed to be reconfigurable over a robust network. The design incorporates novel communication, hardware, and software architectures. This was motivated by current industrial needs for distributed control systems due to growing demand for less complexity, more processing power, flexibility, and greater fault tolerance. To this end, three main contributions were made. Most distributed control architectures depend on multi-tier heterogeneous communication networks requiring linking devices and/or complex middleware. In this study, first, a communication architecture was proposed and implemented with a homogenous network employing the ubiquitous Ethernet for both real-time and non real-time communication. This was achieved by a producer-consumer coordination model for real-time data communication over a segmented network, and a client-server model for point-to-point transactions. The protocols deployed use a Time-Triggered (TT) approach to schedule real-time tasks on the network. Unlike other TT approaches, the scheduling mechanism does not need to be configured explicitly when controller nodes are added or removed. An implicit clock synchronization technique was also developed to complement the architecture. Second, a reconfigurable mechanism based on an auto-configuration protocol was developed. Modules on the network use this protocol to automatically detect themselves, establish communication, and negotiate for a desired configuration. Third, the research demonstrated hardware/software co-design as a contribution to the growing discipline of mechatronics. The IMC consists of a motion controller board designed and prototyped in-house, and a Java microcontroller. An IMC is mapped to each machine/robot axis, and an additional IMC can be configured to serve as a real-time coordinator. The entire architecture was implemented in Java, thus reinforcing uniformity, simplicity, modularity, and openness. Evaluation results showed the potential of the flexible controller to meet medium to high performance machining requirements.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorZhang, W. J. (Chris); Lang, Sherman
CommitteeSchoenau, Greg J.; Pufahl, Dennis E.; Orban, Peter; Hertz, P. Barry; Gander, Robert; Dolovich, Allan T.
Copyright DateSeptember 2006