Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2017.

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Christopher A. Kitts


This research explored object manipulation using multiple robots by developing a control system utilizing force sensing. Multirobot solutions provide advantages of redundancy, greater coverage, fault-tolerance, distributed sensing and actuation, and reconfigurability. In object manipulation, a variety of solutions have been explored with different robot types and numbers, control strategies, sensors, etc. This research involved the integration of force sensing with a centralized position control method of two robots (cluster control) and building it into an object level controller. This controller commands the robots to push the object based on the measured interaction forces between them while maintaining proper formation with respect to each other and the object.

To test this controller, force sensor plates were attached to the front of the Pioneer 3-AT robots. The object is a long, thin, rectangular prism made of cardboard, filled with paper for weight. An Ultra Wideband system was used to track the positions and headings of the robots and object. Force sensing was integrated into the position cluster controller by decoupling robot commands, derived from position and force control loops.

The result was a successful pair of experiments demonstrating controlled transportation of the object, validating the control architecture. The robots pushed the object to follow linear and circular trajectories. This research is an initial step toward a hybrid force/position control architecture with cluster control for object transportation by a multirobot system.