Design and optimization of parallel haptic devices : Design methodology and experimental evaluation

Abstract: The simulation of surgical procedures, in the case of hard tissues such as bone or teeth milling, using a haptic milling surgery simulator requires a haptic device which can provide high stiffness and transparency. To mimic a real milling process of hard tissue, such as for example creating a narrow channel or cavity, the simulator needs to provide force/torque feedback in 5–6 degrees of freedom (DOF). As described in this thesis, research has been performed to develop and optimize a haptic device that can provide high stiffness and force/torque capabilities to facilitate haptic interaction with stiff tissues.  The main contributions of this thesis are: (i) The use of a model-based design methodology for the design of haptic devices.  The proposed methodology is applied to a case study, i.e. the design and optimization of a haptic device based on parallel kinematics. Device requirements were elicited through dialogues with a prospective user from a neurosurgery clinic. In the conceptual design phase, different parallel concepts have been investigated and analyzed based on functional qualities such number of degrees of freedom, workspace size and force/torque capabilities. This analysis led to the selection of a specific 6 DOF kinematic structure for which dimension synthesis was performed including multi-objective optimization followed by control synthesis. Finally, a device prototype was realized and its performance verified. (ii) Optimization of the device for best kinematic and dynamic performance. For optimization, performance indices such as workspace-to-footprint ratio, kinematic isotropy and inertial indices were used. To cope with the problem of non-uniform units in the components of the Jacobian matrix, various normalization techniques were investigated. A new multi-objective optimization function is introduced to define the optimization problem, which is then resolved using multi-objective genetic algorithms. A sensitivity analysis of the performance indices against each design parameter is performed, as a basis for selecting a final set of design parameter values. (iii) A control strategy is investigated to achieve high transparency and stability of the device. The control strategy is based on careful analysis of the dynamics of the haptic device, computed torque feed-forward control and force control based on current feedback. (iv) Finally, experiments both separately in the lab and by using the device in a haptic milling surgery simulator were performed. Results from a face validity study performed in collaboration with orthopedists verify that the new haptic device enables high-performance force and torque feedback for stiff interactions.