a coupled mobile base manipulation system for robotic refueling

Open Access
Briggs, Kathryn Launa
Graduate Program:
Mechanical Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 24, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Sean N Brennan, Thesis Advisor
  • Karl Martin Reichard, Thesis Advisor
  • inverse kinematics
  • robotic refueling
  • mobile base
  • robotic manipulator
Technological advancements in computer vision, path planning, and spatial awareness have enabled the development of robotic manipulation systems to perform elementary dexterous tasks. A specific application considered here consists of having a robotic manipulator refuel a vehicle gas tank. Currently there are no standard mobile robotic refueling systems. Moreover, although increasingly more common, ground robots have not been used specifically for refueling tasks. This thesis examines the ability of a three-degree-of-freedom robotic manipulator coupled with a mobile base to perform a vehicle refueling task. A model of a three-degree-of-freedom robotic manipulator was fully implemented with a GAZEBO simulation package to test the refueling process in a virtual world. This allowed virtual testing of multiple vehicles and fuel tank configurations. Tests were then conducted using a real three-degree-of-freedom robotic manipulator, a RE2 Automatic Arm, fully integrated with ROS (Robot Operating System). For angled fuel tank inlets, an additional degree of freedom was required, where a wrist joint was needed to properly align the nozzle along the central axis of the angled fuel tank inlet tube. The advantage of using a mobile base as an additional degree of freedom during refueling is assessed for a sample refueling trajectory. Specific geometries of the robotic manipulator in relation to the mobile base were incorporated into an analysis of the optimal base location for each trajectory point along the desired refueling path. Through the investigation of mobile base and manipulator movement, specific constraints are quantified for the prototype design of a wheeled mobile base. The analysis results also provide insight into general design principles for robotic refueling systems.