Executing optimized throwing motion on robot arm with free joint
In this article we address the problem of catching objects that move at a relatively large distance from the robot, of the order of tens of times the size of the robot itself. To this purpose, we adopt casting manipulation and visual-based feedback control. Casting manipulation is a technique to deploy a robotic end-effector far from the robot's base, by throwing the end-effector and controlling its ballistic flight using forces transmitted through a light tether connected to the end-effector itself. The tether cable can then be used to retrieve the end- effector to exert forces on the robot's environment. In previous work, planar casting manipulation was demon- strated to aptly catch static objects placed at a distant, known position, thus proving it suitable for applications such as sample acquisition and return, rescue, etc. In this paper we propose an extension of the idea to controlling the position of the end- effector to reach moving targets in 3D. The goal is achieved by an innovative design of the casting mechanism, and by closing a real-time control loop on casting manipulation using visual feedback of moving targets. To achieve this result, simplified yet accurate models of the system suitable for real-time computation are developed, along with a suitable visual feedback scheme for the flight phase. Effectiveness of the visual feedback controller is demonstrated through experiments with a 2D casting robot.