Feedback control methods for distributed manipulation systems that involve mechanical contacts

T. D. Murphey*, J. W. Burdick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


In this paper we introduce feedback control methods for distributed manipulation systems that move objects via rolling and slipping point contacts. Because of the intermittent nature of these mechanical contacts, the governing mechanics of these systems are inherently nonsmooth. We first present a methodology to model these non-smooth mechanical effects in a manner that is tractable for non-smooth control analysis. Using these models, we show that when considerations of these non-smooth effects are taken into account, a class of traditional open-loop distributed manipulation control methods cannot stabilize objects near an equilibrium. However, stability can be achieved through the use of feedback, and we present non-smooth feedback laws with guaranteed stability properties. We then describe an experimental modular distributed manipulation test-bed upon which one can implement a variety of control schemes. Experiments with this test-bed confirm the validity of our control algorithms. Multimedia extensions include videos of these experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-781
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Contact modeling
  • Distributed manipulation
  • Feedback control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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