In robot control with physical interaction, like robot-assisted surgery and bilateral teleoperation, the availability of reliable interaction force information has proved to be capable of increasing the control precision and of dealing with the surrounding complex environments. Usually, force sensors are mounted between the end effector of the robot manipulator and the tool for measuring the interaction forces on the tooltip. In this case, the force acquired from the force sensor includes not only the interaction force but also the gravity force of the tool. Hence the tool dynamic identification is required for accurate dynamic simulation and model-based control. Although model-based techniques have already been widely used in traditional robotic arms control, their accuracy is limited due to the lack of specific dynamic models. This work proposes a model-free technique for dynamic identification using multi-layer neural networks (MNN). It utilizes two types of MNN architectures based on both feed-forward networks (FF-MNN) and cascade-forward networks (CF-MNN) to model the tool dynamics. Compared with the model-based technique, i.e., curve fitting (CF), the accuracy of the tool identification is improved. After the identification and calibration, a further demonstration of bilateral teleoperation is presented using a serial robot (LWR4+, KUKA, Germany) and a haptic manipulator (SIGMA 7, Force Dimension, Switzerland). Results demonstrate the promising performance of the model-free tool identification technique using MNN, improving the results provided by model-based methods.
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