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Design and Implementation of a Closed-Loop Mobile Manipulator Control System



Omar Aboul-Enein, Ya-Shian Li-Baboud, Roger Bostelman, Ann Virts


Mobile manipulators, which integrate a robotic manipulator with an automatic--autonomous mobile base, have the potential to augment automation by combining the capability of navigation with complex manipulation to support unstructured and dynamic environments. Targeted applications include manufacturing large-scale parts commonly encountered in the aerospace, energy, shipbuilding, and transportation sectors. While autonomous mobility no longer restricts the robotic manipulator to working at a single, rigidly fixtured workstation or work-piece, the increased flexibility introduces new sources of position and orientation uncertainty, and manufacturing processes of large-scale parts with complex, curved surfaces require high repeatability and accuracy. A standardized measurement methodology, including a configurable measurement artifact to simulate dynamic manufacturing operations, is being developed to identify and evaluate these sources of performance uncertainty. As part of this methodology and associated test methods development, this work details the design and prototype implementation of a closed-loop mobile manipulator control system that integrates feedback from an optical tracking system. Development of the control system presents a new test implementation to demonstrate the performance evaluation of mobile manipulation performance in application scenarios where the workstation or work-piece is physically disturbed during operation or where rapid registration between distant locations along the same work-piece is required. This work will promote advances in control scheme development by providing a standardized, reproducible test method for evaluation in a variety of simulated application spaces.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 2258
Report Number


Closed-loop control system, configurable mobile manipulator apparatus, coordinate registration, ground truth, large-scale manufacturing, mobile manipulators, mobile robot, optical tracking system, re-configurable mobile manipulator artifact, robotics in manufacturing, systems integration.


Aboul-Enein, O. , Li-Baboud, Y. , Bostelman, R. and Virts, A. (2023), Design and Implementation of a Closed-Loop Mobile Manipulator Control System, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed April 15, 2024)
Created July 28, 2023