As mobile robotic systems advance, they become viable technologies for automating manufacturing processes in fields that traditionally have not seen much automation. Such fields include shipbuilding or windmill, tank, and pipeline construction. In many cases, these mobile robots must operate in climbing configurations and on non-planar surfaces due to the unstructured nature of these manufacturing tasks. Unit operations are commonly considered in a planar context, but in practice are performed on generally non-planar surfaces. One such example is welding a seam along a non-flat ship hull; these surfaces consist of common geometric shapes such as cylinders or spheres. This paper will present a kinematic analysis of one mobile robot topology performing specified tasks on cylindrical surfaces. The analysis will define a method to determine the robot path on a work-piece surface as well as the configuration joint parameters along when the motion is prescribed in local tool space coordinates. This method assumes that the robot operates following the no-slip, pure roll conditions. The effort is motivated by a practical application of welding on steel hulls or other surfaces and the results will be compared with these empirical experiences. A discussion of how these results can be used to guide future design of mobile robot platforms for manufacturing is provided.

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