This paper presents a new approach to parallel motion planning for industrial robot arms with six degrees of freedom in an on-line given 3D environment. The method is based on the A*-search algorithm and needs no essential off-line computations. The algorithm works in an implicitly descrete configuration space. Collisions are detected in the cartesian workspace by hierarchical distance computation based on the given CAD model. By decomposing the 6D configuration space into hypercubes and cyclically mapping them onto multiple processing units, a good load distribution can be achieved. We have implemented the parallel motion planner on a workstation cluster with 9 PCs and tested the planner for several benchmark environments. With optimal discretisation, the new approach usually shows linear, and sometimes even superlinear speedups. In on-line provided environments with static obstacles, the parallel planning times are only a few seconds.
We present a parallel control architecture for industrial robot cells. It is based on closed functional components arranged in a flat communication hierarchy. The components may be executed by different processing elements, and each component itself may run on multiple processing elements. The system is driven by the instructions of a central cell control component. We set up necessary requirements for industrial robot cells and possible parallelization levels. These are met by the suggested robot control architecture. As an example we present a robot work cell and a component for motion planning, which fits well in this concept.