Determining position and orientation of a 3-wheel robot on a pipe using an accelerometer

Alexander McGregor, Gordon Dobie, Neil R. Pearson, Charles N. MacLeod, Anthony Gachagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
164 Downloads (Pure)


Accurate positioning of robots on pipes is a challenge in automated industrial inspection. It is typically achieved using expensive and cumbersome external measurement equipment. This paper presents an Inverse Model method for determining the orientation angle (α ) and circumferential position angle (ω) of a 3 point of contact robot on a pipe where measurements are taken from a 3-axis accelerometer sensor. The advantage of this system is that it provides absolute positional measurements using only a robot mounted sensor. Two methods are presented which follow an analytical approximation to correct the estimated values. First, a correction factor found though a parametric study between the robot geometry and a given pipe radius, followed by an optimization solution which calculates the desired angles based on the system configuration, robot geometry and the output of a 3-axis accelerometer. The method is experimentally validated using photogrammetry measurements from a Vicon T160 positioning system to record the position of a three point of contact test rig in relation to a test pipe in a global reference frame. An accelerometer is attached to the 3 point of contact test rig which is placed at different orientation (α ) and circumferential position (ω) angles. This work uses a new method of processing data from an accelerometer sensor to obtain the α and ω angles. The experimental results show a maximum error of 3.40° in α and 4.17° in ω , where the ω circumferential positional error corresponds to ±18mm for the test pipe radius of 253mm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8951135
Pages (from-to)5061-5071
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number9
Early online date7 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • automation
  • robotics
  • NDE
  • IMU
  • accelerometer


Dive into the research topics of 'Determining position and orientation of a 3-wheel robot on a pipe using an accelerometer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this