View Chapter

Chapter 76 — Evolutionary Robotics

Stefano Nolfi, Josh Bongard, Phil Husbands and Dario Floreano

Evolutionary Robotics is a method for automatically generating artificial brains and morphologies of autonomous robots. This approach is useful both for investigating the design space of robotic applications and for testing scientific hypotheses of biological mechanisms and processes. In this chapter we provide an overview of methods and results of Evolutionary Robotics with robots of different shapes, dimensions, and operation features. We consider both simulated and physical robots with special consideration to the transfer between the two worlds.

Introduction to evolutionary robotics at EPFL

Author  Dario Floreano

Video ID : 119

Method for evolving the neural network of a robot. Valid gene sequences are extracted (magnifying lens) from a binary string representing the genome of the robot. Those genes are translated into neurons of different types (colors) according to the genetic specifications, such as sensory, motor, excitatory, or inhibitory neurons. The corresponding neural network is connected to the sensors and motors of the robot and the resulting behavior of the robot is measured according to the fitness function. The genomes of the individuals that had the worst performance are discarded from the population (symbolically thrown into a dustbin) whereas the genomes of the best individuals are paired and crossed over with small random mutations to generate new offspring (the process of selective reproduction is symbolically shown to occur in a mother robot). After several generations of selective reproductions with mutations, robots display better or novel behaviors.

Chapter 20 — Snake-Like and Continuum Robots

Ian D. Walker, Howie Choset and Gregory S. Chirikjian

This chapter provides an overview of the state of the art of snake-like (backbones comprised of many small links) and continuum (continuous backbone) robots. The history of each of these classes of robot is reviewed, focusing on key hardware developments. A review of the existing theory and algorithms for kinematics for both types of robot is presented, followed by a summary ofmodeling of locomotion for snake-like and continuum mechanisms.

Active compliant insertion

Author  Nabil Simaan

Video ID : 244

Shows rapid deployment of a continuum robot inside a tube using force sensing at the backbones and a generalization of the compliant motion controller initially presented in [1]. This experiment is associated with [2] which is not published. The algorithms have been validated successfully on two cadavers as reported in Hamlyn 2013 paper and in a TBME paper currently under review [1] R. E. Goldman, A. Bajo, N. Simaan: Compliant motion control for continuum robots with intrinsic actuation sensing, Proc. IEEE Int. Conf. Robot. Autom. (ICRA), Shanghai (2011), pp. 1126-1132; [2] R. E. Goldman, A. Bajo, N. Simaan: Compliant motion control for multi-segment continuum robots with actuation force sensing, IEEE Trans. Robot. (2013), submitted

Chapter 44 — Networked Robots

Dezhen Song, Ken Goldberg and Nak-Young Chong

As of 2013, almost all robots have access to computer networks that offer extensive computing, memory, and other resources that can dramatically improve performance. The underlying enabling framework is the focus of this chapter: networked robots. Networked robots trace their origin to telerobots or remotely controlled robots. Telerobots are widely used to explore undersea terrains and outer space, to defuse bombs and to clean up hazardous waste. Until 1994, telerobots were accessible only to trained and trusted experts through dedicated communication channels. This chapter will describe relevant network technology, the history of networked robots as it evolves from teleoperation to cloud robotics, properties of networked robots, how to build a networked robot, example systems. Later in the chapter, we focus on the recent progress on cloud robotics, and topics for future research.

Teleoperation of a mini-excavator

Author  Keyvan Hashtrudi-Zaad, Simon P. DiMaio, Septimiu E. Salcudean

Video ID : 82

Teleoperation of a mini-excavator over the internet using a virtual master environment. This video is illustrates how a virtual-reality-based interface can assist users to comprehend robotic states. (See m. 44.4.3 of the Springer Handbook of Robotics, 2nd ed (2006) for details).

Chapter 23 — Biomimetic Robots

Kyu-Jin Cho and Robert Wood

Biomimetic robot designs attempt to translate biological principles into engineered systems, replacing more classical engineering solutions in order to achieve a function observed in the natural system. This chapter will focus on mechanism design for bio-inspired robots that replicate key principles from nature with novel engineering solutions. The challenges of biomimetic design include developing a deep understanding of the relevant natural system and translating this understanding into engineering design rules. This often entails the development of novel fabrication and actuation to realize the biomimetic design.

This chapter consists of four sections. In Sect. 23.1, we will define what biomimetic design entails, and contrast biomimetic robots with bio-inspired robots. In Sect. 23.2, we will discuss the fundamental components for developing a biomimetic robot. In Sect. 23.3, we will review detailed biomimetic designs that have been developed for canonical robot locomotion behaviors including flapping-wing flight, jumping, crawling, wall climbing, and swimming. In Sect. 23.4, we will discuss the enabling technologies for these biomimetic designs including material and fabrication.

Underactuated adaptive gripper using flexural buckling

Author  Gwang-Pil Jung, Je-Sung Koh, Kyu-Jin Cho

Video ID : 409

Biologically-inspired gripper. The scalable design enables the manufacture of various sizes of the gripper. Flexure buckling provides the adaptability to grip objects of various shapes. Its differential mechanism has no wires and linkages.

Chapter 21 — Actuators for Soft Robotics

Alin Albu-Schäffer and Antonio Bicchi

Although we do not know as yet how robots of the future will look like exactly, most of us are sure that they will not resemble the heavy, bulky, rigid machines dangerously moving around in old fashioned industrial automation. There is a growing consensus, in the research community as well as in expectations from the public, that robots of the next generation will be physically compliant and adaptable machines, closely interacting with humans and moving safely, smoothly and efficiently - in other terms, robots will be soft.

This chapter discusses the design, modeling and control of actuators for the new generation of soft robots, which can replace conventional actuators in applications where rigidity is not the first and foremost concern in performance. The chapter focuses on the technology, modeling, and control of lumped parameters of soft robotics, that is, systems of discrete, interconnected, and compliant elements. Distributed parameters, snakelike and continuum soft robotics, are presented in Chap. 20, while Chap. 23 discusses in detail the biomimetic motivations that are often behind soft robotics.

CompAct™ robotics technology

Author  Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT)

Video ID : 471

Brief video showing CompAct™ actuation units and arm, demonstrating the effects of its core variable damping (VPDA) technology. Key features of these units include: 1. intrinsic safety (lightweight and elastic transmission) meant for safe human-robot collaboration; 2. precision, thanks to the variable damping transmission, protected by international patents; 3. ease of use (no need for experts to program it, easy to reprogram, flexible to use).

Chapter 23 — Biomimetic Robots

Kyu-Jin Cho and Robert Wood

Biomimetic robot designs attempt to translate biological principles into engineered systems, replacing more classical engineering solutions in order to achieve a function observed in the natural system. This chapter will focus on mechanism design for bio-inspired robots that replicate key principles from nature with novel engineering solutions. The challenges of biomimetic design include developing a deep understanding of the relevant natural system and translating this understanding into engineering design rules. This often entails the development of novel fabrication and actuation to realize the biomimetic design.

This chapter consists of four sections. In Sect. 23.1, we will define what biomimetic design entails, and contrast biomimetic robots with bio-inspired robots. In Sect. 23.2, we will discuss the fundamental components for developing a biomimetic robot. In Sect. 23.3, we will review detailed biomimetic designs that have been developed for canonical robot locomotion behaviors including flapping-wing flight, jumping, crawling, wall climbing, and swimming. In Sect. 23.4, we will discuss the enabling technologies for these biomimetic designs including material and fabrication.

Treebot: Autonomous tree climbing by tactile sensing

Author  Tin Lun Lam, Yangsheng Xu

Video ID : 289

The design of Treebot is unique: It uses a set of flexible linear actuators connecting two gripping claws to enable it to move around like an inchworm. While the back gripper holds on, the front gripper releases and the body extends forward, enabling the robot to literally feel around for a good place to grip.

Chapter 20 — Snake-Like and Continuum Robots

Ian D. Walker, Howie Choset and Gregory S. Chirikjian

This chapter provides an overview of the state of the art of snake-like (backbones comprised of many small links) and continuum (continuous backbone) robots. The history of each of these classes of robot is reviewed, focusing on key hardware developments. A review of the existing theory and algorithms for kinematics for both types of robot is presented, followed by a summary ofmodeling of locomotion for snake-like and continuum mechanisms.

Aiko sidewinding

Author  Pål Liljebäck

Video ID : 254

Video of Aiko, a robot developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)/SINTEF Advanced Robotics Laboratory. In this video, the robot performs a sidewinding gait.

Chapter 40 — Mobility and Manipulation

Oliver Brock, Jaeheung Park and Marc Toussaint

Mobile manipulation requires the integration of methodologies from all aspects of robotics. Instead of tackling each aspect in isolation,mobilemanipulation research exploits their interdependence to solve challenging problems. As a result, novel views of long-standing problems emerge. In this chapter, we present these emerging views in the areas of grasping, control, motion generation, learning, and perception. All of these areas must address the shared challenges of high-dimensionality, uncertainty, and task variability. The section on grasping and manipulation describes a trend towards actively leveraging contact and physical and dynamic interactions between hand, object, and environment. Research in control addresses the challenges of appropriately coupling mobility and manipulation. The field of motion generation increasingly blurs the boundaries between control and planning, leading to task-consistent motion in high-dimensional configuration spaces, even in dynamic and partially unknown environments. A key challenge of learning formobilemanipulation consists of identifying the appropriate priors, and we survey recent learning approaches to perception, grasping, motion, and manipulation. Finally, a discussion of promising methods in perception shows how concepts and methods from navigation and active perception are applied.

Catching objects in flight

Author  Seungsu Kim, Ashwini Shukla, Aude Billard

Video ID : 653

We target the difficult problem of catching in-flight objects with uneven shapes. This requires the solution of three complex problems: predicting accurately the trajectory of fast-moving objects, predicting the feasible catching configuration, and planning the arm motion, all within milliseconds. We follow a programming-by-demonstration approach in order to learn models of the object and the arm dynamics from throwing examples. We propose a new methodology for finding a feasible catching configuration in a probabilistic manner. We leverage the strength of dynamical systems for encoding motion from several demonstrations. This enables fast and online adaptation of the arm motion in the presence of sensor uncertainty. We validate the approach in simulation with the iCub humanoid robot and in real-world experiment with the KUKA LWR 4+ (7-DOF arm robot) for catching a hammer, a tennis racket, an empty bottle, a partially filled bottle and a cardboard box.

Chapter 10 — Redundant Robots

Stefano Chiaverini, Giuseppe Oriolo and Anthony A. Maciejewski

This chapter focuses on redundancy resolution schemes, i. e., the techniques for exploiting the redundant degrees of freedom in the solution of the inverse kinematics problem. This is obviously an issue of major relevance for motion planning and control purposes.

In particular, task-oriented kinematics and the basic methods for its inversion at the velocity (first-order differential) level are first recalled, with a discussion of the main techniques for handling kinematic singularities. Next, different firstorder methods to solve kinematic redundancy are arranged in two main categories, namely those based on the optimization of suitable performance criteria and those relying on the augmentation of the task space. Redundancy resolution methods at the acceleration (second-order differential) level are then considered in order to take into account dynamics issues, e.g., torque minimization. Conditions under which a cyclic task motion results in a cyclic joint motion are also discussed; this is a major issue when a redundant manipulator is used to execute a repetitive task, e.g., in industrial applications. The use of kinematic redundancy for fault tolerance is analyzed in detail. Suggestions for further reading are given in a final section.

Configuration space control of KUKA Lightweight Robot LWR with EXARM Exoskeleton

Author  Telerobotics Lab

Video ID : 817

This video shows some advanced inverse kinematics mapping that enables the control of a redundant manipulator (KUKA LWR) by means of Cartesian location and geometric correspondence to the human arm. Thereby the null-space of the robot manipulator can be exploited to enable very intuitive operations. Joint limits and singularities are avoided, as well, by optimized mounting of the robot and the hand.

Chapter 56 — Robotics in Agriculture and Forestry

Marcel Bergerman, John Billingsley, John Reid and Eldert van Henten

Robotics for agriculture and forestry (A&F) represents the ultimate application of one of our society’s latest and most advanced innovations to its most ancient and important industries. Over the course of history, mechanization and automation increased crop output several orders of magnitude, enabling a geometric growth in population and an increase in quality of life across the globe. Rapid population growth and rising incomes in developing countries, however, require ever larger amounts of A&F output. This chapter addresses robotics for A&F in the form of case studies where robotics is being successfully applied to solve well-identified problems. With respect to plant crops, the focus is on the in-field or in-farm tasks necessary to guarantee a quality crop and, generally speaking, end at harvest time. In the livestock domain, the focus is on breeding and nurturing, exploiting, harvesting, and slaughtering and processing. The chapter is organized in four main sections. The first one explains the scope, in particular, what aspects of robotics for A&F are dealt with in the chapter. The second one discusses the challenges and opportunities associated with the application of robotics to A&F. The third section is the core of the chapter, presenting twenty case studies that showcase (mostly) mature applications of robotics in various agricultural and forestry domains. The case studies are not meant to be comprehensive but instead to give the reader a general overview of how robotics has been applied to A&F in the last 10 years. The fourth section concludes the chapter with a discussion on specific improvements to current technology and paths to commercialization.

An autonomous robot for de-leafing cucumber plants

Author  Elder J. van Henten, Bart A.J. van Tuijl, G. J. Hoogakker, M.J. van der Weerd, Jochen Hemming, J.G. Kornet, Jan Bontsema

Video ID : 309

In cucumber production, amongst other crops, removal of old non-productive leaves in the lower regions of the plant is a time consuming task. Based on the platform of the autonomous cucumber harvester at Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands, a robot for de-leafing cucumber plants was developed. The platform's camera system identifies and locates the main stems of the plants. The gripper is sent to the plant and moved upwards. Leaves encountered during this upward motion are separated from the plant using a thermal cutting device which prevents transmission of viruses from plant to plant. An interesting feature of this machine is that, with slight modifications of software and hardware, two greenhouse operations can be performed.