Velocity Field Design for the Modular Distributed Manipulator System (MDMS)
The Modular Distributed Manipulator System (MDMS) is a novel materials handling system which is a fixed array of actuated wheels capable of inducing arbitrary motions in the plane. This work develops control laws for transporting and manipulating macroscopic-scale objects (parcels) that rest on the array. The dynamics of parcel transport and manipulation lead to the necessary understanding of such laws. The dynamics are based on an exact discrete representation of the system, unlike other methods where a continuity assumption is made. Given a particular set of wheel speeds, the dynamics of a parcel's motion are derived by examining the distribution of weight among the supporting cells subject to a friction model governing the parcel-wheel contact. The resulting relationship between parcel behavior and wheel speeds can be inverted, therefore wheel speeds can be calculated from desired parcel behavior.