BoundMPC: Cartesian Path Following with Error Bounds based on Model Predictive Control in the Joint Space

This work presents a novel online model-predictive trajectory planner for robotic manipulators called BoundMPC. This planner allows the collision-free following of Cartesian reference paths in the end-effector’s position and orientation, including via-points, within desired asymmetric bounds of the orthogonal path error. The path parameter synchronizes the position and orientation reference paths. The decomposition of the path error into the tangential direction, describing the path progress, and the orthogonal direction, which represents the deviation from the path, is well known for the position from the path-following control in the literature. This paper extends this idea to the orientation by utilizing the Lie theory of rotations. Moreover, the orthogonal error plane is further decomposed into basis directions to define asymmetric Cartesian error bounds easily. Using piecewise linear position and orientation reference paths with via-points is computationally very efficient and allows replanning the pose trajectories during the robot’s motion. This feature makes it possible to use this planner for dynamically changing environments and varying goals. The flexibility and performance of BoundMPC are experimentally demonstrated by two scenarios on a 7-DoF Kuka LBR iiwa 14 R820 robot. The first scenario shows the transfer of a larger object from a start to a goal pose through a confined space where the object must be tilted. The second scenario deals with grasping an object from a table where the grasping point changes during the robot’s motion, and collisions with other obstacles in the scene must be avoided.