Analytical equations of motion are critical for real-time control of translating manipulators, which require precise positioning of various tools for their mission. Specifically, when manipulators mounted on moving robots or vehicles perform precise positioning of their tools, it becomes economical to develop a Stewart platform, whose sole task is stabilizing the orientation and crude position of its top table, onto which various precision tools are attached.

In this paper, analytical equations of motion are developed for a Stewart platform whose motion of the base plate is prescribed. To describe the kinematics of the platform, the moving frame method, presented by one of authors [1,2], is employed. In the method the coordinates of the origin of a body attached coordinate system and vector basis are expressed by using 4 × 4 frame connection matrices, which form the special Euclidean group, SE(3). The use of SE(3) allows accurate description of kinematics of each rigid body using (relative) joint coordinates. In kinetics, the principle of virtual work is employed, in which system virtual displacements are expressed through B-matrix by essential virtual displacements, reflecting the connection of the rigid body system [2]. The resulting equations for fixed base plate reduce to those for the top plate, obtained by the Newton-Euler method.

A main result of the paper is the analytical equations of motion in matrix form for dynamics analyses of a Stewart platform whose base plate moves. The control applications of those equations will be deferred to subsequent publications.