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Science in China Ser. E Engineering & Materials Science 2004 Vol.47 No.

6 641650

641

Displacement manifold method for type synthesis of lower-mobility parallel mechanisms


LI Qinchuan1, HUANG Zhen2 & Jacques Marie Herv3
1. Center of Integration Engineering, Zhejiang University of Sciences, Hangzhou 310033, China;
2. Robotics Research Center, Yanshan University, Qinhuangdao 066004, China;
3. Ecole Centrale Paris, France
Correspondence should be addressed to Li Qinchuan (email: lqchuanrick@yahoo.com.cn)
Received June 29, 2004

Abstract

Type synthesis of lower-mobility parallel mechanisms is a hot and frontier


topic in international academic and industrial field. Based on the Lie group theory, a
displacement manifold synthesis method is proposed. For all the nine kinds of
lower-mobility parallel mechanisms, the mechanism displacement manifold, limb
displacement manifold and the geometrical conditions which guarantee that the
intersection of the limb displacement manifold is the desired mechanism displacement
manifold are enumerated. Various limb kinematic chains can be obtained using the
product closure of displacement subgroup. Parallel mechanisms can be constructed with
these limbs while obeying the geometrical conditions. Hence, all the nine kinds of
lower-mobility parallel mechanisms can be synthesized using this method. Since
displacement manifold deals with finite motion, the result mechanism of synthesis have
full-cycle mobility. Novel architectures of lower-mobility parallel mechanisms can be
obtained using this method.

Keywords: lower-mobility parallel mechanisms, Lie group, displacement manifold, type synthesis.
DOI: 10.1360/ 03ye0352

Compared with the general 6-DOF (degrees of freedom) PM (parallel mechanism),


lower-mobility PMs have advantages of simple structure, low cost in design, manufacturing and control. Inventions of new architectures not only mean breakthrough in theory
but also help protect independent intellectual properties. Consequently, the potential
business value and application can be obtianed. The success of the DELTA robot is such
a typical example 1) . Particularly the symmetrical lower-mobility PM, which characterizes identical limbs, symmetrical arrangement and isotropy, has been a hot and frontier
subject in international academic and industrial field.
The history of type synthesis of lower-mobility PMs dates back to 1983, when
1) Bonev, I., Delta parallel robotthe story of success, http://www.parallemic.org/Reviews/Review002.html.

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642

Science in China Ser. E Engineering & Materials Science 2004 Vol.47 No.6 641650

Hunt[1] proposed some architectures, including some planar PMs, 3-DOF PMs, 6-DOF
PMs and some asymmetrical 4- and 5-DOF PMs. Other pioneering work includes
3-DOF translational DELTA robot proposed by Clavel[2] in 1988, the 3-DOF translational PMs with 4-DOF limbs proposed by Herv[3] in 1991, the 3-UPU translational PM
proposed by Tsai[4] in 1996, the 4-DOF H4 robot proposed by Pierrot and Company[5] in
1999, the 4-DOF 4-URU PM proposed by Zhao and Huang[6] in 2000 and the 4-DOF
PM proposed by Zlatov and Gosselin[7] in 2001. However, for over 20 years, a universal
and effective type synthesis theory has not been well established. The consequence is
that there has been a lack of symmetrical 4- and 5-DOF PMs, particularly those without
closed-loops in limb.
There are two traditional methods for type synthesis of PMs. One is the enumeration method based on the general Grbler-Kutzbach mobility criterion. Tsai[8] applied
this method to the type synthesis of a kind of 3-DOF PM. The other is the displacement
subgroup synthesis method proposed by Herv[3,9]. Herv[3,10] and his colleagues studied
the type synthesis of 3-DOF translational and rotational PMs. However, these two
methods cannot be applied to all lower-mobility PMs. Merlet 1) pointed out that the first
method fails to describe the geometrical arrangement of kinematic pairs, so invalid results were often obtained; the effective range of the second method was limited because
of the difficulty in retaining the algebraic structures of group. In addition, Yang[11] et al.
proposed a type synthesis method based on single-unit open chains and synthesized
some mechanisms.
This indicates that the problem of type synthesis of lower-mobility parallel mechanism has not been well solved over the last 20 years. The lower-mobility PMs can be
sorted into nine categories according to their kinds of mobility. However, the
above-mentioned method cannot be applied to all the nine categories. The direct result of
such a lack is that few symmetrical 4- and 5-DOF PMs without closed-loop have been
proposed. Particularly, most of the kinematic experts were thinking that no symmetrical
5-DOF parallel mechanisms can be discovered. Hunt[1] believed that the symmetrical
5-DOF parallel mechanism does not exist but is instantaneous. Merlet1)[12, 13] believed
that there were no 4- and 5-DOF parallel robot with identical chains.
Recently, Huangs group filled this gap and proposed the constraint-synthesis

method2)[14 16] based on screw theory. The constraint-synthesis method is effective universally and has been applied to the type synthesis of all nine kinds of lower-mobility
PMs[16]. Numerous novel PMs have been invented using this method, including the
symmetrical 5-DOF PMs[17]. The constraint-synthesis method belongs to the instantaneous motion field, because screw is instantaneous. Hence, the last indispensable step of
1) Merlet, J. P., Still a long way to go on the road for parallel mechanisms, ASME Design Engineering Technical Conferences, Keynote speech, Montreal, 2002, http://www-sop.inria.fr/coprin/equipe/merlet/ASME/
asme2002.html.
2) Zhao, T. S., Research on analysis and synthesis of lower-mobility parallel mechanisms, PhD Dissertation,
Yanshan University, 2000.

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Displacement manifold method for type synthesis of lower-mobility parallel mechanisms

643

the constraint-synthesis method is to identify if the synthesized mechanism is only instantaneous or not, which sometimes is rather difficult for some complicated architectures.
This paper aims to propose a universally effective type synthesis method in the finite motion field. Based on the Lie group theory, a displacement manifold synthesis
method is proposed. Limb displacement manifold (LDM) is used to describe the motion
of the limb end while mechanism displacement manifold (MDM) is used to describe the
motion of the moving platform. The geometrical conditions which guarantee that the
intersection of the limb displacement manifold is the desired MDM are enumerated.
Various limb kinematic chains can be obtained using the product closure of displacement
subgroup. Parallel mechanisms can be constructed with these limbs while obeying the
geometrical conditions. Hence, all kinds of lower-mobility parallel mechanisms can be
synthesized using this method.
1
1.1

Manifold synthesis method


Displacement subgroup

The set of 6-dimensional rigid motion is endowed with group algebraic structures
and forms a Lie group, {D}. Further the motion of a rigid body can be described by a
subset of {D}, which can be a group, called displacement subgroup, or a displacement
manifold. In 1978, Herv[9] enumerated all 12 kinds of displacement subgroups, as
shown in table 1. It also can be readily proven that the set of relative motion allowed by
a lower pair constitutes a displacement Lie subgroup. Herv[9] also enumerated the intersection and composition of different displacement subgroups. The intersection of
subgroups follows the rules of intersection of sets.
From table 1, it can be seen that the 12 displacement subgroups cannot explain all
the rigid motion in space. Under most conditions, the rigid motion is a displacement
manifold included in {D}, as shown in table 2.
1.2

Limb displacement manifold

When analyzing a serial kinematic chain composed of rigid bodies 1, 2, , i1, i,


the allowed displacements of body i relative to body 1 is a subset of the group of
rigid-body motions or displacements. This subset is the composition by implementation
of the group product, of all the subgroups associated with the lower kinematic pairs in
the kinematic chain. This subset may be a subgroup or only a manifold included in {D}
in most cases. For example, a 3P kinematic chain generates the 3-dimensional translational subgroup, namely {T (u)}.{T (v )}.{T ( w )} {T }. A RPS kinematic chain only
generates a 5-dimensional displacement manifold, namely {R( N1 , u)}.{T (v )}.{S ( N 2 )} .

The 1-dimensional displacement subgroup can be generated by 1-DOF pair. Because the multi-DOF pair or joint is equal to the composition of revolute pairs and prismatic pairs kinematically, the 3-dimensional rotation displacement subgroup {S(N)} is
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Table 1 Enumeration of displacement subgroups


Displacement
subgroup

Dim

Mechanical
generator

Note

Displacement
subgroup

{R(N, u)}

Revolute pair

Rotation about the axis


determined by the unit
vector u and point N

{E}

Rigid connection,
relative motion

{T(v)} or
{T1(v)}

Prismatic
pair

Translation along the


unit vector v

{T(Pvw)} or
{T2(P)}

Planar motion in plane


Pvw determined by two
unit vectors v and w

{H(N, u, p)}

Helical pair

Helical motion determined by the axis (N, v)


and pitch p

{T}

3-dimensional translation
in space

{C(N, v)}

Cylindrical
pair

Cylindrical motion
determined by the axis
(N, v)

{Y(w, p)}

{G(u)} or
{G(Pvw)}

Planar pair

Planar motion determined by the normal u

{X(w)}

{S(N)}

Spherical
joint

Rotation about the


point N

{D}

Dim

Note
no

Motion formed by planar


translation determined by
the normal w and the
helical motion with pitch
p parallel to w
3-dimensional translation
and one rotation about
the unit vector w
6-dimensional
rigid
motion

Table 2 Rigid motion and displacement subgroups


Rigid motion
3-dimensional rotation and
translation (3R2T)
2-dimensional rotation and
translation (2R3T)
1-dimensional rotation and
translation (1R3T)
3-dimensional rotation and
translation (3R1T)
2-dimensional rotation and
translation (2R2T)

Subgroups
2-dimensional
3-dimensional
3-dimensional
1-dimensional
2-dimensional

Rigid motion

Subgroups

No

3-dimensional rotation (3R)

{S(N)}

No

3-dimensional translation (3T)

{T}

{X(w)}

2-dimensional
rotation
and
1-dimensional translation (2R1T)

No

1-dimensional
rotation
and
2-dimensional translation (1R2T)

{G(u)}

No
No

equal to the composition product of three 1-dimensional rotation subgroups, whose axes
intersect at a common point, namely {R( N , i )}.{R( N , j )}.{R( N , k )}. In other words,
the subgroup is generated by a 3R spherical subchain formed by three revolute pairs
whose axes intersect at a common point. Such a 3R spherical subchain is denoted by
(iRjRkR)N, where the superscript i, j, k denote the three revolute axes and N the intersection point.
The 3-dimensional subgroup {G(u)} represents 2-dimensional translation in a plane
and 1-dimensional rotation about the normal to the plane. The subgroup {G(u)} can be
generated by the kinematic chains listed in table 3, where the superscript denotes the
axis of kinamatic pair, v and w are two linearly independent unit vectors in the plane.
{G2(u)} is a 2-dimensional displacement manifold and can be generated by the kinematic chain in table 3. The subgroup {S(N)} also includes a 2-dimensional displacement
manifold {R(N, i)}.{R(N, j)}, denoted by {S2(N)}. The manifold {S2(N)} can be generated by a 2R spherical subchain (iRjR)N.
1.3

Synthesis procedure
When analyzing a parallel mechanism, the set of the allowed displacements of the

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Displacement manifold method for type synthesis of lower-mobility parallel mechanisms

645

Table 3 Bond and generators of {G(u)} and {G2(u)}


Kinematic bond of {G(u)}
{T (v )}.{T ( w )}.{R( N , u)}

Generators of {G(u)}
v

Pw PuR

{R( N , u)}.{{T (v )}.{T ( w )}

{T (v )}.{R( N , u)}.{T ( w )}

{R( A, u)}.{R( B, u)}.{T ( w )}

{R( A, u)}.{T ( w )}.{R( B, u)}

R P R

{T ( w )}.{R( A, u)}.{R( B, u)}

PuR uR

{R( A, u)}.{R( B, u)}.{R(C, u)}

RuR uR

R P P
P R P
R R P

Kinematic bond of {G2(u)}


{T (v )}.{T ( w )}

Generators of {G2(u)}
v

PwP

{R( A, u)}.{T ( w )}

RwP

{T ( w )}.{R( A, u)}

PuR

{R( A, u)}.{R( B, u)}

RuR

moving platform is the intersection of the displacement subgroups or manifolds that are
generated by the limbs. The intersection of manifolds is actually the process of finding
the intersection of two adjacent subgroups repeatedly, which follows the rules given by
Herv[9]. The motion of the moving platform can be described by MDM and the motion
of the ith limb can be described by limb displacement manifold. Hence, the type synthesis of PMs can be described as follows:
Given desired {M}, find {Li} and geometrical conditions which make
{M }

{Li }.
i 1

The general procedure of displacement manifold synthesis method is as follows:


Step 1. Use MDM {M} to describe the motion of the moving platform with desired mobility.

The desired manifold {M} can be expressed by the composition product of subgroup {R(N, u)} and {T(v)}.
Step 2.

Use manifold {M} to obtain the limb displacement manifold {Li}.

For symmetrical 5-DOF PMs, the MDM is also the LDM namely {M} = {Li}.
For symmetrical 4-DOF PMs, the dimension of the MDM is four while the dimension of the limb displacement manifold can be four or five. When the dimension of LDM
is four, we have {M} = {Li}. Further, using the product closure and associativity of displacement subgroup, the LDM {Li} can be expanded to a 5-dimensional displacement
manifold.
For symmetrical 3-DOF PMs, the dimension of the MDM is three while the dimension of the limb displacement manifold can be three, four or five. When the dimension
of LDM is three, we have {M} = {Li}. Further, using the product closure and associativity of displacement subgroup, the LDM {Li} can be expanded to a 4- or 5-dimensional
displacement manifold.
After {Li} is determined, using the product closure and associativity of displacement subgroup, we can obtain numerous kinematic equivalences of {Li}, which can
be generated by different limb kinematic chains.
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Step 3.

Find the geometrical conditions which guarantee {M }

{Li }.

These

i 1

geometrical conditions are also the inherent structural characteristics of the PMs, which
will not change. Based on the characteristics[17] of lower-mobility PMs, the geometrical
conditions can be obtained.
The MDM, LDM and corresponding geometrical conditions of symmetrical 5-DOF
PMs are enumerated in table 4.
Table 4 MDM, LDM and geometrical conditions of symmetrical 5-DOF PMs
5-DOF PM

{M}

Conditions for {M }

{Li}

{Li }
i 1

{T ( Pvw )}.{S ( N )}

3R2T

{T ( Pvw )}.{S ( N )}

Pivw // Pvw , N i

{G( Pivw )}.{S 2 ( N i )}

{G2 ( Pivw )}.{S ( N i )}

2R3T

{T}.{R(N, u)}{R(N, v)}

{T}.{R( N i1 , ui )}.{R( N i 2 , vi )}

ui // u , v i // v

{X (ui )}.{R( N i1 , vi )}

ui // u , v i // v

{G( Pi1 )}.{G2 ( Pi 2 )}

Pi1 // P j1 , u A Pi1 , Pi 2 // P j 2 , v A P j 2

The MDM, LDM and corresponding geometrical conditions of symmetrical 4-DOF


PMs are enumerated in table 5.
Table 5 MDM, LDM and geometrical conditions of symmetrical 4-DOF PMs
4-DOF PM

{M}

{Li}
{T (ui )}.{S ( Ni )}

3R1T

{T (u)}.{S ( N )}

Conditions for {M}

{Li }
i 1

ui // u , N i

{T2 ( Pi )}.{S ( Ni )}
{G( Pi )}.{S2 ( Ni )}

Pli // u , N i

{G2 ( Pi )}.{S ( Ni )}
{T}.{R( N , ui )}
{X ( ui )}

1R3T

{T}.{R( N , u)}

{G2 ( Pi1 )}.{G( Pi 2 )}


{G( Pi1 )}.{G2 ( Pi 2 )}
{T (ui ))}.{G( Pli 2 )}

2R2T

{T ( P)}.{R( N1 , u)}.{R( N 2 , v)}

{G2 ( Pi )}.{S ( Ni )}

P A u , v // P

{G( Pi )}.{S2 ( Ni )}

ui // u
Pi1 // u , Pi 2 A u
ui // u , Pi 2 A u
Pi A u , N1

N 2 , N3

N4

The MDM, LDM and corresponding geometrical conditions of symmetrical 3-DOF


PMs are enumerated in table 6, where Pi1 z P j1 means the two planes are not parallel
and the situation when the limb generates subgroups is not included.
Step 4. Use the limb kinematic chain obtained in Step 2 to construct PMs while
obeying the geomerical conditions obtained in Step 3. Since displacement subgroup and
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Displacement manifold method for type synthesis of lower-mobility parallel mechanisms

647

manifold deals with finite motion, it is not necessary to identify whether the synthesized
PM is instantaneous.
Table 6 MDM, LDM and geometrical conditions of symmetrical 3-DOF PMs
3-DOF PM
3T

{M}
{T}

{Li}

Conditions for {M}

{G( Pi1 )}.{G2 ( Pi 2 )}

Pi1 z Pj1 , Pi 2 z P j 2

{S ( Ni1 )}.{S2 ( Ni 2 )}
{S ( N )}

3R

{G( Pi )}.{S2 ( Ni )}
{G2 ( Pi )}.{S ( Ni )}

2.1

2R1T

{T (w)}.{R( N , u)}{R( N , v)}

2T1R

{T (w)}.{T (v)}{R( N , u)}

{Li }
i 1

N i1 z N , N i 2

N i 2 z N , N i1

Pi z P j , N i

{G( Pi )}.{S2 ( Ni )}

Pi // w , Pi z P j , N i z N

{G2 ( Pi )}.{S ( Ni )}

Pi // w , Pi z P j , N i z N

{G2 ( Pi )}.{S ( Ni )}

Pi // P j , N i z N

Examples of type synthesis

Type synthesis of 3R2T 5-DOF parallel mechanims

The target of type synthesis is 5-DOF parallel mechanisms with three rotational
DOF and two translational DOF in XY plane. From table 4, it is easy to know that the
MDM is {M} {T ( Pxy )}.{S ( N )} . There are three corresponding LDMs. For simplicity,
we only discuss the situation when {Li } {G ( Pixy )}.{S 2 ( Ni )}.
The kinematic chain generating {G(Pixy)} {G( Pixy )} can be obtained from table 3 by
setting v = x, w = y and u = z. The generator of {S2(Ni)} is a 2R spherical subchain
( j R k R) Ni . Linking the kinematic chain generating {G(Pixy)} in table 3 to the 2R

spherical subchain ( j R k R ) Ni , seven lime kinematic chains can be obtained, for example,

R z R z R( i R j R) Ni .

The limb kinematic chain obtained above only consists of 1-DOF kinematic pairs.
With appropriate arrangement of kinematic pairs in a limb, cylindrical pair and universal
joint can be obtained. Obviously, {G(Pixy)} and {S2(Ni)} {S2 ( Ni )} contain no displacement subgroup {C(Ni, vi)} generated by a cylindrical pair. When the last factor in the
products that generate {G(Pixy)} is a 1-dimensional translational subgroup {T(yi)}, the
{C(N, w)} can be obtained by setting the axis of the first 1-dimensional rotational subgroup {R(Ni, ii)} in {S2(Ni)} parallel to yi, while yi, ji and ki are linearly independent. For
example,
{G( Pixy )}.{S2 ( Ni )} {R( Ai , z)}.{R(Bi , zi )}.{T ( yi )}.{R( Ni , yi )}.{R( Ni , ki )}
{R( Ai , z)}.{R(Bi , z)}.{C ( Ni , yi )}.{R( Ni , ki )}.

(1)
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The limb kinematic chain obtained in eq. (1) is

R z R y C Ni k R Ni .

Because of product closure of displacement subgroup, the sequence of kinematic


pairs in the chain that generates {C ( N i , yi )} can be changed, namely,
{C( Ni , y i )} {T(y i )}.{R ( N i , y i )} {R ( N i , y i )}.{T(y i )},

(2)

where {C ( N i , yi )} can be generated by


y

P y R Ni or

R Ni y P . Replacing

limb kinematic chain


to
z

a
z

new
y

limb

C Ni in

R R C Ni R Ni leads

kinematic

chain

R R R N i P R Ni .

3R2T 5-DOF parallel mechanisms can


be constructed using the limb kinematic
chain obtained above while obeying the
structural conditions in table 4. Fig. 1 shows
Fig. 1.

3-z R z R y C N k R N .

3-z R z R y C N k R N

parallel

mechanism,

where B denotes the base and M the moving


platform.
2.2

Type synthesis of 3R1T 4-DOF parallel mechanisms

The target of type synthesis is 4-DOF parallel mechanisms with three rotational
DOF and one translational DOF in Z direction. From table 5, it is easy to know that the
MDM is {M } {T ( z )}.{S ( N )}. There are three corresponding LDMs. For simplicity,
we only discuss the situation when {Li } {G ( Pi )}.{S2 ( Ni )}.
From the structural condition Pi // z in table 5, it is evident that Pi is perpendicular
to the XY plane or the base. Hence, the normal of Pi, namely, u, must be parallel to the
XY plane or the base. The mechanical generator of {G(Pi)} can be obtained from table 3
by setting v = x, w = z, u = x. Note that at least one 1-dimensional translational subgroup
in the product that generates {G(Pi)} must not be parallel to the XY plane. For example,
one product that generates {G(Pi)} is {R( Ai , xi )}.{T ( pi )}.{R( Bi , xi )} , where pi is not
parallel to the XY plane. The corresponding limb kinematic chain is x R p P x R , where
the superscript p denotes the direction of the prismatic pair. Then, we can set the revolute axis of the first rotational subgroup {R( Ni , ii )} perpendicular to xi , namely,
ii A xi , and let the axis of {R( Ni , ii )} intersect the axis of {R(Bi , xi )} . Consequently,
{R( Bi , xi )}.{R( Ni , ii )} is a 2-dimensional displacement manifold in {D} and can be
generated by a universal joint. Thus we obtain a limb kinematic chain x R p Px UiN k R N .
With four x R p Px UiN k R N limbs, we can construct a 4- x R p Px UiNk R N parallel mechaCopyright by Science in China Press 2004

Displacement manifold method for type synthesis of lower-mobility parallel mechanisms

649

nism by setting all the limb centers coincident with each other and the revolute pair fixed
on the base not parallel to each other, as shown in fig. 2. Various limb kinematic chains
can be obtained by using the product closure of displacement subgroup.

Fig. 2.

2.3

4-x R p P x UiN k R N .

Fig. 3.

3-x R p P x R i R N k R N .
3
i

3
i

Type synthesis of 2R1T 3-DOF parallel mechanism

The target of type synthesis is 3-DOF parallel mechanisms with two rotational DOF
about X, Y axis respectively and one translational DOF in Z direction. From table 6, it is
easy to know that the MDM is {M} {T ( z)}.{R( N , x)}{R( N , y)} . There are two corresponding LDMs. For simplicity, we only discuss the situation when {Li }
{G(Pi )}.{S2 ( Ni )} .
Comparing the structural conditions of 3R1T 4-DOF parallel mechanisms in table 5
with the structural conditions of 2R1T 3-DOF parallel mechanisms, we can find that the
difference is only whether the limb centers are coincident with each other or not. Thus,
the limb kinematic chains of 3R1T 4-DOF parallel mechanisms can be used to construct
the 2R1T 3-DOF parallel mechanism by setting all the limb centers not coincident.
For example, the x R p P x R i R Ni k R Ni limbs generate {R( Ai , xi )}.{T ( pi )}.
{R( Bi , xi )}.{R( Ni , ii )}.{R( N i , ki )}. We can construct a 3-x R p P x R i R N3 k R N3 parallel
i
i
mechanism, where the subscript N3i denotes that there exist three limb centers. From
ref. [16], we know that the 3-x R p P x R i R N k R N parallel mechanism has two rotational
DOF about X, Y axis respectively and one translational DOF in Z direction, as shown in
fig. 3.
3

Conclusions
Displacement manifold method for type synthesis of lower-mobility PMs is based
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650

on the algebraic structure properties of Lie group. Furthermore, in this method, the displacement manifolds are characterized by geometrical entities that are intrinsically defined (like points, vectors etc.) instead of matrix subsets depending on the reference
frame. Consequently, the architectures of PMs, including limb kinematic chains and
structural conditions, can be obtained in a straightforward manner. It is shown that this
method is applicable to all nine kinds of lower-mobility parallel mechanisms.
Acknowledgements
50075074).

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.

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