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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.

VSA-Cube arm: Drawing on a wavy surface (high stiffness)

Author  Centro di Ricerca "E. Piaggio"

Video ID : 472

A 3-DOF arm, built with VSA-cube units, performing a circle on a wavy surface with preset uniformly high stiffness.

Chapter 53 — Multiple Mobile Robot Systems

Lynne E. Parker, Daniela Rus and Gaurav S. Sukhatme

Within the context of multiple mobile, and networked robot systems, this chapter explores the current state of the art. After a brief introduction, we first examine architectures for multirobot cooperation, exploring the alternative approaches that have been developed. Next, we explore communications issues and their impact on multirobot teams in Sect. 53.3, followed by a discussion of networked mobile robots in Sect. 53.4. Following this we discuss swarm robot systems in Sect. 53.5 and modular robot systems in Sect. 53.6. While swarm and modular systems typically assume large numbers of homogeneous robots, other types of multirobot systems include heterogeneous robots. We therefore next discuss heterogeneity in cooperative robot teams in Sect. 53.7. Once robot teams allow for individual heterogeneity, issues of task allocation become important; Sect. 53.8 therefore discusses common approaches to task allocation. Section 53.9 discusses the challenges of multirobot learning, and some representative approaches. We outline some of the typical application domains which serve as test beds for multirobot systems research in Sect. 53.10. Finally, we conclude in Sect. 53.11 with some summary remarks and suggestions for further reading.

Autonomous Robot Soccer | Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman

Author  Dennis Hong

Video ID : 209

This video shows some of the first autonomous soccer playing robots. The research is a stepping stone to interconnected robot societies.

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.

Learning dexterous grasps that generalize to novel objects by combining hand and contact models

Author  Marek Kopicki, Renaud Detry, Florian Schmidt, Christoph Borst, Rustam Stolkin, Jeremy Wyatt

Video ID : 650

We show how a robot learns grasps for high-DOF hands that generalize to novel objects, given as little as one demonstrated grasp. During grasp learning two types of probability density are learned that model the demonstrated grasp. The first density type (the contact model) models the relationship of an individual finger part to local surface features at its contact point. The second density type (the hand configuration model) models the whole hand configuration during the approach to grasp.

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.

Essex series robotic fish

Author  Jindong Liu, Huosheng Hu

Video ID : 431

These are Essex autonomous robotic fish tested in a public fish tank in the London Aquarium. The video was captured during preparations for unveiling the World's first autonomous robotic fish in 2006. It was reported by BBC and other news outlets. There are three motors on the tail joint. The skin is cosmetic and water flooded. The various models are labelled G6 , G8, andG9. This video shows how a "fish" detects the tank wall and other "fish" by IR sensors and changes its path to avoid collision.

A new form of peristaltic locomotion in a robot

Author  Alexander Boxerbaum

Video ID : 287

This robotic concept uses a braided mesh that can be continuously deformed to create smooth waves of motion. The improvements in kinematics result in a much faster and effective motion.

Chapter 50 — Modeling and Control of Robots on Rough Terrain

Keiji Nagatani, Genya Ishigami and Yoshito Okada

In this chapter, we introduce modeling and control for wheeled mobile robots and tracked vehicles. The target environment is rough terrains, which includes both deformable soil and heaps of rubble. Therefore, the topics are roughly divided into two categories, wheeled robots on deformable soil and tracked vehicles on heaps of rubble.

After providing an overview of this area in Sect. 50.1, a modeling method of wheeled robots on a deformable terrain is introduced in Sect. 50.2. It is based on terramechanics, which is the study focusing on the mechanical properties of natural rough terrain and its response to off-road vehicle, specifically the interaction between wheel/track and soil. In Sect. 50.3, the control of wheeled robots is introduced. A wheeled robot often experiences wheel slippage as well as its sideslip while traversing rough terrain. Therefore, the basic approach in this section is to compensate the slip via steering and driving maneuvers. In the case of navigation on heaps of rubble, tracked vehicles have much advantage. To improve traversability in such challenging environments, some tracked vehicles are equipped with subtracks, and one kinematical modeling method of tracked vehicle on rough terrain is introduced in Sect. 50.4. In addition, stability analysis of such vehicles is introduced in Sect. 50.5. Based on such kinematical model and stability analysis, a sensor-based control of tracked vehicle on rough terrain is introduced in Sect. 50.6. Sect. 50.7 summarizes this chapter.

Interactive, human-robot supervision test with the long-range science rover for Mars exploration

Author  Samad Hayati, Richard Volpe, Paul Backes, J. (Bob) Balaram, Richard Welch, Robert Ivlev, Gregory Tharp, Steve Peters, Tim Ohm, Richard Petras

Video ID : 187

This video records a demonstration of the long-range rover mission on the surface of Mars. The Mars rover, the test bed Rocky 7, performs several demonstrations including 3-D terrain mapping using the panoramic camera, telescience over the internet, an autonomous mobility test, and soil sampling. This demonstration was among the preliminary tests for the Mars Pathfinder mission executed in 1997.

Chapter 66 — Robotics Competitions and Challenges

Daniele Nardi, Jonathan Roberts, Manuela Veloso and Luke Fletcher

This chapter explores the use of competitions to accelerate robotics research and promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. We argue that the field of robotics is particularly well suited to innovation through competitions. Two broad categories of robot competition are used to frame the discussion: human-inspired competitions and task-based challenges. Human-inspired robot competitions, of which the majority are sports contests, quickly move through platform development to focus on problemsolving and test through game play. Taskbased challenges attempt to attract participants by presenting a high aim for a robotic system. The contest can then be tuned, as required, to maintain motivation and ensure that the progress is made. Three case studies of robot competitions are presented, namely robot soccer, the UAV challenge, and the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) grand challenges. The case studies serve to explore from the point of view of organizers and participants, the benefits and limitations of competitions, and what makes a good robot competition.

This chapter ends with some concluding remarks on the natural convergence of humaninspired competitions and task-based challenges in the promotion of STEM education, research, and vocations.

Brief history of RoboCup robot soccer

Author  Manuela Veloso

Video ID : 385

In this 5 min video, we explain the history of the multiple RoboCup soccer leagues.

Chapter 68 — Human Motion Reconstruction

Katsu Yamane and Wataru Takano

This chapter presents a set of techniques for reconstructing and understanding human motions measured using current motion capture technologies. We first review modeling and computation techniques for obtaining motion and force information from human motion data (Sect. 68.2). Here we show that kinematics and dynamics algorithms for articulated rigid bodies can be applied to human motion data processing, with help from models based on knowledge in anatomy and physiology. We then describe methods for analyzing human motions so that robots can segment and categorize different behaviors and use them as the basis for human motion understanding and communication (Sect. 68.3). These methods are based on statistical techniques widely used in linguistics. The two fields share the common goal of converting continuous and noisy signal to discrete symbols, and therefore it is natural to apply similar techniques. Finally, we introduce some application examples of human motion and models ranging from simulated human control to humanoid robot motion synthesis.

The Crystal Ball: Predicting future motions

Author  Katsu Yamane

Video ID : 764

This video shows a demonstration of The Crystal Ball, a system that predicts future motions based on a graphical motion model. The rightmost figure represents the current motion, while the other figures represent the predicted motions.

Chapter 65 — Domestic Robotics

Erwin Prassler, Mario E. Munich, Paolo Pirjanian and Kazuhiro Kosuge

When the first edition of this book was published domestic robots were spoken of as a dream that was slowly becoming reality. At that time, in 2008, we looked back on more than twenty years of research and development in domestic robotics, especially in cleaning robotics. Although everybody expected cleaning to be the killer app for domestic robotics in the first half of these twenty years nothing big really happened. About ten years before the first edition of this book appeared, all of a sudden things started moving. Several small, but also some larger enterprises announced that they would soon launch domestic cleaning robots. The robotics community was anxiously awaiting these first cleaning robots and so were consumers. The big burst, however, was yet to come. The price tag of those cleaning robots was far beyond what people were willing to pay for a vacuum cleaner. It took another four years until, in 2002, a small and inexpensive device, which was not even called a cleaning robot, brought the first breakthrough: Roomba. Sales of the Roomba quickly passed the first million robots and increased rapidly. While for the first years after Roomba’s release, the big players remained on the sidelines, possibly to revise their own designs and, in particular their business models and price tags, some other small players followed quickly and came out with their own products. We reported about theses devices and their creators in the first edition. Since then the momentum in the field of domestics robotics has steadily increased. Nowadays most big appliance manufacturers have domestic cleaning robots in their portfolio. We are not only seeing more and more domestic cleaning robots and lawn mowers on the market, but we are also seeing new types of domestic robots, window cleaners, plant watering robots, tele-presence robots, domestic surveillance robots, and robotic sports devices. Some of these new types of domestic robots are still prototypes or concept studies. Others have already crossed the threshold to becoming commercial products.

For the second edition of this chapter, we have decided to not only enumerate the devices that have emerged and survived in the past five years, but also to take a look back at how it all began, contrasting this retrospection with the burst of progress in the past five years in domestic cleaning robotics. We will not describe and discuss in detail every single cleaning robot that has seen the light of the day, but select those that are representative for the evolution of the technology as well as the market. We will also reserve some space for new types of mobile domestic robots, which will be the success stories or failures for the next edition of this chapter. Further we will look into nonmobile domestic robots, also called smart appliances, and examine their fate. Last but not least, we will look at the recent developments in the area of intelligent homes that surround and, at times, also control the mobile domestic robots and smart appliances described in the preceding sections.

Robotic vacuum cleaners reviewed by Click - Spring 2014

Author  Erwin Prassler

Video ID : 727

Reviews of domestic, vacuum-cleaning robots by BBC.

Chapter 57 — Robotics in Construction

Kamel S. Saidi, Thomas Bock and Christos Georgoulas

This chapter introduces various construction automation concepts that have been developed over the past few decades and presents examples of construction robots that are in current use (as of 2006) and/or in various stages of research and development. Section 57.1 presents an overview of the construction industry, which includes descriptions of the industry, the types of construction, and the typical construction project. The industry overview also discusses the concept of automation versus robotics in construction and breaks down the concept of robotics in construction into several levels of autonomy as well as other categories. Section 57.2 discusses some of the offsite applications of robotics in construction (such as for prefabrication), while Sect. 57.3 discusses the use of robots that perform a single task at the construction site. Section 57.4 introduces the concept of an integrated robotized construction site in which multiple robots/machines collaborate to build an entire structure. Section 57.5 discusses unsolved technical problems in construction robotics, which include interoperability, connection systems, tolerances, and power and communications. Finally, Sect. 57.6 discusses future directions in construction robotics and Sect. 57.7 gives some conclusions and suggests resources for further reading.

Obayashi ACBS (Automatic Constructions Building System)

Author  Thomas Bock

Video ID : 272

In the Obayashi ACBS (Automatic Constructions Building System) (Figure 57.29), once a story has been finished, the whole support structure, which rests on four columns, is pushed upwards by hydraulic presses to the next story over a 1.5 h period. Fully extended, the support structure is 25 m high; retracted it measures 4.5 m. Once everything has been moved up, work starts on the next story. By constructing the topmost story of the high-rise building as the roof at the beginning of the building process, the site is closed off in all directions, considerably reducing the effect of the weather and any damage it might cause.