Robotic arm control in Python
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ABR Control

ABR_Control: Robotic arm control in Python


The ABR_Control library depends on NumPy, SymPy, SciPy, CloudPickle, and Cython, and we recommend that you install these libraries before ABR_Control. If you're not sure how to do this, we recommend using Anaconda. Note that installing in a clean environment will require compiling of the dependent libraries, and will take a few minutes.

To install ABR_Control, clone this repository and run:

sudo apt-get install g++
sudo apt-get install python-dev
sudo apt-get install libfreetype6-dev
pip install scipy
pip install cython
python install
python develop

ABR_Control is tested to work on Python 3.4+.


The ABR_Control repo is comprised of three parts: 1) arms, 2) controllers, and 3) interfaces.

1) All of the required information about an arm model is kept in that arm's config file. To use the ÁBR_Control library with a new arm, the user must provide the transformation matrices (written using SymPy expressions ) from the robot's origin reference frame to each link's centre-of-mass (COM) and joints. These are specified sequentially, e.g. origin -> link0 COM, link0 COM -> joint0, joint0 -> link1 COM, etc. Additionally, the arm models or simulation code is kept in the arm's folder.

The ABR_Control configuration base class uses the SymPy transform matrices to provide functions that will calculate the transforms, Jacobian, Jacobian derivative, inertia matrices, gravity forces, and centripetal and Coriolis effects for each joint and COM. These can be accessed:

from abr_control.arms import jaco2

robot_config = jaco2.Config()
robot_config.Tx('joint3', joint_angles)  # the (x, y, z) position of joint3
robot_config.M(joint_angles)  # calculate the inertia matrix in joint space
robot_config.J('EE', joint_angles)  # the Jacobian of the end-effector

2) The controllers make use of the robot configuration files to generate control signals that drive the robot to a target. The ABR_Control library provides implementations of operational space control, joint space control, and a floating controller.

Additionally, there are signals and path planners that can be used in conjunction with the controllers. See the obstacle_avoidance or linear_path_planning files for examples on how to use these.

3) For communications to and from the system under control, an interface class is used. The functions available in each class vary depending on the specific system, but must provide connect, disconnect, send_forces and get_feedback methods. A control loop using these three files looks like:

from abr_control.arms import jaco2
from abr_control.controllers import OSC
from abr_control.interfaces import VREP

robot_config = jaco2.Config()
ctrlr = OSC(robot_config)
interface = VREP(robot_config)


target_xyz = [.2, .2 .5]  # in metres
for ii in range(1000)
    feedback = interface.get_feedback()  # returns a dictionary with q, dq
    u = ctrlr.generate(feedback['q'], feedback['dq'], target_xyz)
    interface.send_forces(u)  # send forces and step VREP sim forward



The ABR_Control repo comes with several examples that demonstrate the use of the different interfaces and controllers.

By default all of the PyGame examples run with the three-link MapleSim arm. You can also run the examples using the two-link Python arm by changing the import statement at the top of the example scripts. Note that to run the PyGame examples, you will also need to install Pygame:

pip install pygame

To run the VREP examples, have VREP version > 3.2 open, and load the .ttt file from the corresponding abr_control/arms/ folder for the arm of interest. By default, the VREP examples all run with the UR5 arm model. To change this, change which arm folder is imported at the top of the example script.