Determining position and orientation of a 3-wheel robot on a pipe using an accelerometer

McGregor, Alexander and Dobie, Gordon and Pearson, Neil R. and MacLeod, Charles N. and Gachagan, Anthony (2020) Determining position and orientation of a 3-wheel robot on a pipe using an accelerometer. IEEE Sensors Journal, 20 (9). pp. 5061-5071. 8951135. ISSN 1530-437X (

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Accurate positioning of robots on pipes is a challenge in automated industrial inspection. It is typically achieved using expensive and cumbersome external measurement equipment. This paper presents an Inverse Model method for determining the orientation angle (α ) and circumferential position angle (ω) of a 3 point of contact robot on a pipe where measurements are taken from a 3-axis accelerometer sensor. The advantage of this system is that it provides absolute positional measurements using only a robot mounted sensor. Two methods are presented which follow an analytical approximation to correct the estimated values. First, a correction factor found though a parametric study between the robot geometry and a given pipe radius, followed by an optimization solution which calculates the desired angles based on the system configuration, robot geometry and the output of a 3-axis accelerometer. The method is experimentally validated using photogrammetry measurements from a Vicon T160 positioning system to record the position of a three point of contact test rig in relation to a test pipe in a global reference frame. An accelerometer is attached to the 3 point of contact test rig which is placed at different orientation (α ) and circumferential position (ω) angles. This work uses a new method of processing data from an accelerometer sensor to obtain the α and ω angles. The experimental results show a maximum error of 3.40° in α and 4.17° in ω , where the ω circumferential positional error corresponds to ±18mm for the test pipe radius of 253mm.


McGregor, Alexander, Dobie, Gordon ORCID logoORCID:, Pearson, Neil R., MacLeod, Charles N. ORCID logoORCID: and Gachagan, Anthony ORCID logoORCID:;