The aim of this study is to enhance the performance of a nonlinear three-rigid-link maneuver (RLM) in terms of trajectory tracking, disturbance and noise cancellation, and adaptability to joint flexibility. To achieve this, an optimized sliding mode controller with a proportional integral derivative surface (SMC-PID) is employed for maneuver control. An improved artificial bee colony algorithm with multi-elite guidance (MGABC) is utilized to obtain optimal values for the sliding surface and switching mode gain and attain the best performance for the robot maneuver system. The selection of the MGABC algorithm is based on its efficient exploration and exploitation techniques. The performance of the optimized SMC-PID robotic system is compared against other optimization algorithms found in existing literature, including Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO), Genetic Algorithm (GA), Artificial Bee Colony (ABC), Ant Lion Optimizer (ALO), and Grey Wolf Optimizer (GWO). The implemented controller effectively reduces the tracking error to 0.00691 radians, eliminates chattering phenomena in the control effort, and demonstrates robustness against disturbances and noise. The controller ensures that the objective function (OBJF) is minimized, with 0.954% increase in OBJF under low disturbance and noise conditions and 14.55% under severe disturbance and noise conditions. Moreover, the optimized controller exhibits resilience to variations in payload mass analysis, with the percentage increase in OBJF values ranging from 5.726% under low uncertainty conditions to 18.887% under severe uncertainty conditions. Flexible-link maneuvers (FLM) offer advantages such as improved safety and increased operating speeds in real-world applications. In this study, we investigated the impact of joint flexibility on the performance of the FLM system. Our proposed controller demonstrated superior tracking performance, characterized by minimal vibrations in the movement of the end effector.
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