Our research activity deals mostly with applied mechanics solutions, from the world of industrial automation to space exploration. But, our know-how derives from strong foundations of theoretical kinematics that allow us to face at best practical issues in the most varied applications.
Kinematics is the study of the relationship between the joint and the spatial coordinates of a generic robot, in terms of position, velocity and acceleration of each mechanism link. Kinematics addresses a wide variety of problems such as positioning a gripper, designing a mechanism to execute a given trajectory, or predicting whether a robot will impact obstacles in its movement. It deals with the instantaneous values of the robot coordinates and it is the starting point to estimate the workspace of the robot, plan desired trajectories and optimally control the torques and forces provided by the actuators.
Screw theory is the algebraic calculation of pairs of vectors, such as force, moments or linear and angular velocity. The theory of screws has been employed to analyse the properties of instantaneous motions of rigid bodies. Nowadays, because of its geometrical descriptions of motion, it plays an important role in robotics. Research activity based on screw theory is undertaken in different engineering fields like:
- synthesis and design of mechanisms;
- mobility and studies of singularity configurations of mechanisms;
- static and dynamics of mechanics and bodies.
A mechanical singularity is a configuration of a mechanism or machine where the subsequent behaviour cannot be predicted, or the forces, or other physical quantities involved, become infinite or nondeterministic. The study of these positions is extremely important in applied mechanics, for example, during the operation of a machine unpredictable behaviour is extremely dangerous and it must be avoided. On the other hand, situations, where physical quantities become infinite, can be useful, for example, a mechanical singularity can be exploited in an application where high force is required.
Compliant mechanisms are mechanisms that achieve some or all of their motion and force transmission capabilities under elastic deformation of some of their components rather than from movable joints. Traditional rigid-body mechanisms have a finite number of components to apply their functions. Consequently, they face problems such as backlash, wear, and increasing part-count, weight and assembly costs. One of the advantages of compliant is to overcome such limitations, for example, it is possible to decrease the number of components, springs and pins are no longer required, and production costs, compliant mechanisms can be simple to manufacture because they lend themselves well to various additive manufacturing processes.