Identification and analysis of robot manipulator singularities

Vassilios D. Tourassis, Marcelo H. Ang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The existence of singular positions inside the robot workspace is an inherent problem for task planning and robot control. At manipulator configurations near singular positions, very large joint motions are required to produce relatively small end-effector displacements. In the limit, when a singularity is encountered, the required joint motions become unbounded and the manipulator loses at least one degree of freedom. Identifying the singularities in the robot workspace is not always an analytically tractable problem, except for manipulators with opportune placement of the joint axes. Typically, it is easier and more informative to evaluate the robot 'arm' and 'wrist' singularities, which reflect the limitations of the lower-order robot subsystems responsible for positioning and orienting, respectively, the end effector in space. The objective of this article is to define analytically the interplay between the individual 'arm' and 'wrist' singularities and the global manipulator singularities. Specifically, a general formula that defines manipulator singularities in terms of the subsystem singularities is developed. The analysis leads to a novel, efficient method for identifying the singularities of six-axis manipulators. This is then illustrated through an example.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-259
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics

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