Worm gear transmissions are capable of high velocity ratios as well as redirection of rotation. Both of these features are desirable for some robot geometries. A problem has been encountered in several robot designs; however, where a self-excited vibration occurs for some configurations of the manipulator in the joint containing the worm gear. In this work, a system which exhibits this type of undesirable motion is examined. The system consists of a DC servo motor which is used to position a flexible cantilever arm through a worm gear transmission. A nonlinear model is developed to describe the motion of the system. The model is then validated by comparing the predicted response to the observed response of an experimental system. It is demonstrated that the model accurately predicts the onset of the unstable vibration. The model is then linearized and it is shown that the linear model will predict the occurrence of the instability as well.

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