Exploring Baxter Robot and Development of Python algorithms to Execute Holding, Lifting and Positioning Tasks

University essay from Högskolan i Gävle/Elektronik

Abstract: The greatest feature of using a Baxter robot among other industrial robots is the ability to train this robot conveniently. The training of the robot could be done within a few minutes and it does not need so much knowledge of programming. However, this type of training feature is limited in functionality and needs frequent updating of the software and the license from the manufactural company. As the manufacturer of Baxter Robot no longer exists due to a merger, the thesis has twofold aims, (1) Exploring different functional, installation, calibration, troubleshooting and hardware features of the Baxter robot and (2) demonstrate the functionality of Baxter to perform general tasks of holding, lifting and moving of test objects from one desired position to another position using custom-made programs in Python. Owing to this, details about different software and hardware aspects of Baxter robot is presented in this thesis. Additionally, systematic laboratory tutorials are also presented in appendices for students who want to learn and operate the robot from simple to complicated tasks. In order to keep the Baxter operational for students and researchers in future, when there is no more help available from its manufacturer, this thesis endeavour to cover all these aspects. Thus, the thesis presents a brief understanding of how to use the Baxter Robot in a simple and efficient way to perform a basic industrial task. The kinematics part will show the concepts of forward and inverse kinematics and the DH (the Denavit–Hartenberg) parameters that are important to understand the end-effector position according to the world frame that will give the knowledge of those who are interested in the kinematics part of Baxter robot. The work of the thesis will make it easier to understand how to program a Baxter robot by using Python language and using the simplest way to move the arm to certain positions. The ROS principles, kinematics and Python language programs will provide a good platform to understand the usability of Baxter robot. Furthermore, easy to use laboratory tutorials are devised and are presented in the appendices. These laboratory tutorials will improve the understanding of the readers and provide a step-by-step guide of operating Baxter robot according to the principles of Robotics. In addition to all these points above, the thesis shows useful functions that are built in ROS (Robot Operating System) that make it easier to program the robot in an untraditional way which is one of a contribution of this thesis itself. The usual way to program the robots, in general, is to study the robot kinematics and calculate the position of the end-effector or the tool according to some frame or the world coordinate frame. This calculation can be done by the forward kinematics or the inverse kinematics. The set of programming Baxter robot in this thesis is not the complex calculation of the forward or the inverse kinematics. The tf (transform)tool in ROS has made it easier to reach the joint angles and program Baxter robot using Python.

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