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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.

Safety evaluation of lightweight robots

Author  Sami Haddadin

Video ID : 463

Inteview with Sami Haddadin on safety evaluation of lightweight robots (Discovery Channel interview "Daily Planet", January 9th, 2008)

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.

Controlled flight of a biologically-inspired, insect-scale robot

Author  Robert J. Wood

Video ID : 399

The Harvard Microrobotics Lab has demonstrated the first controlled flight of an insect-sized, flapping-wing robot. This video shows the 80 mg, piezoelectrically actuated robot achieving hovering flight and performing a simple lateral maneuver. Power and control signals are provided via wire tether. This work was funded by the NSF and the Wyss Institute.

Chapter 24 — Wheeled Robots

Woojin Chung and Karl Iagnemma

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce, analyze, and compare various wheeled mobile robots (WMRs) and to present several realizations and commonly encountered designs. The mobility of WMR is discussed on the basis of the kinematic constraints resulting from the pure rolling conditions at the contact points between the wheels and the ground. Practical robot structures are classified according to the number of wheels, and features are introduced focusing on commonly adopted designs. Omnimobile robot and articulated robots realizations are described. Wheel–terrain interaction models are presented in order to compute forces at the contact interface. Four possible wheel-terrain interaction cases are shown on the basis of relative stiffness of the wheel and terrain. A suspension system is required to move on uneven surfaces. Structures, dynamics, and important features of commonly used suspensions are explained.

An omnidirectional mobile robot with active caster wheels

Author  Woojin Chung

Video ID : 325

This video shows a holonomic omnidirectional mobile robot with two active and two passive caster wheels. Each active caster is composed of two actuators. The first actuator drives a wheel; the second actuator steers the wheel orientation. Although the mechanical structure of the driving mechanisms becomes a little complicated, conventional tires can be used for omnidirectional motions. Since the robot is overactuated, four actuators should be carefully controlled.

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.

CKBOTS reconfigurable robots

Author  Mark Yim

Video ID : 196

This video shows reconfigurable robots, which are capable of a variety of configurations and modes of locomotion, including bipeds that can stand up and walk. This system is robust in a variety of situations, as shown in the video. The system has three clusters: when clusters disconnect, they enter a search mode and approach each other to assemble. After successful self-reassembling, the robot system stands up to continue its task.

Swarm robotics at CU-Boulder

Author  Dustin Reishus, Nicholas Farrow

Video ID : 214

Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, are developing a swarm of intelligent robots that can work together to perform tasks, such as containing an oil spill or building a space station.

Chapter 70 — Human-Robot Augmentation

Massimo Bergamasco and Hugh Herr

The development of robotic systems capable of sharing with humans the load of heavy tasks has been one of the primary objectives in robotics research. At present, in order to fulfil such an objective, a strong interest in the robotics community is collected by the so-called wearable robots, a class of robotics systems that are worn and directly controlled by the human operator. Wearable robots, together with powered orthoses that exploit robotic components and control strategies, can represent an immediate resource also for allowing humans to restore manipulation and/or walking functionalities.

The present chapter deals with wearable robotics systems capable of providing different levels of functional and/or operational augmentation to the human beings for specific functions or tasks. Prostheses, powered orthoses, and exoskeletons are described for upper limb, lower limb, and whole body structures. State-of-theart devices together with their functionalities and main components are presented for each class of wearable system. Critical design issues and open research aspects are reported.

Body Extender - A fully powered whole-body exoskeleton

Author  Massimo Bergamasco

Video ID : 152

The video shows the main functionalities and capabilities of the fully-powered, whole-body exoskeleton Body Extender.

Chapter 36 — Motion for Manipulation Tasks

James Kuffner and Jing Xiao

This chapter serves as an introduction to Part D by giving an overview of motion generation and control strategies in the context of robotic manipulation tasks. Automatic control ranging from the abstract, high-level task specification down to fine-grained feedback at the task interface are considered. Some of the important issues include modeling of the interfaces between the robot and the environment at the different time scales of motion and incorporating sensing and feedback. Manipulation planning is introduced as an extension to the basic motion planning problem, which can be modeled as a hybrid system of continuous configuration spaces arising from the act of grasping and moving parts in the environment. The important example of assembly motion is discussed through the analysis of contact states and compliant motion control. Finally, methods aimed at integrating global planning with state feedback control are summarized.

Demonstration of multisensor integration in industrial manipulation

Author  Torsten Kröger et al.

Video ID : 361

This video demonstrates the potential of multisensor integration in industrial manipulation. A robot is programmed to play the Jenga game. Two cameras are mounted on the manipulator to calculate the positions of all cuboids online. A 6-DOF force/torque sensor and a 6-DOF acceleration sensor are mounted between a hand and gripper to give force/tactile feedback. The manipulator randomly chooses one block and tries to push it out and then put it on the top of the tower. In this video, a record of putting 29 blocks onto the top of the tower is achieved.

Chapter 34 — Visual Servoing

François Chaumette, Seth Hutchinson and Peter Corke

This chapter introduces visual servo control, using computer vision data in the servo loop to control the motion of a robot. We first describe the basic techniques that are by now well established in the field. We give a general overview of the formulation of the visual servo control problem, and describe the two archetypal visual servo control schemes: image-based and pose-based visual servo control. We then discuss performance and stability issues that pertain to these two schemes, motivating advanced techniques. Of the many advanced techniques that have been developed, we discuss 2.5-D, hybrid, partitioned, and switched approaches. Having covered a variety of control schemes, we deal with target tracking and controlling motion directly in the joint space and extensions to under-actuated ground and aerial robots. We conclude by describing applications of visual servoing in robotics.

IBVS on a 6-DOF robot arm (2)

Author  Francois Chaumette, Seth Hutchinson, Peter Corke

Video ID : 60

This video shows an IBVS on a 6-DOF robot arm with Cartesian coordinates of image points as visual features and a current interaction matrix in the control scheme. It corresponds to the results depicted in Figure 34.3.

Chapter 24 — Wheeled Robots

Woojin Chung and Karl Iagnemma

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce, analyze, and compare various wheeled mobile robots (WMRs) and to present several realizations and commonly encountered designs. The mobility of WMR is discussed on the basis of the kinematic constraints resulting from the pure rolling conditions at the contact points between the wheels and the ground. Practical robot structures are classified according to the number of wheels, and features are introduced focusing on commonly adopted designs. Omnimobile robot and articulated robots realizations are described. Wheel–terrain interaction models are presented in order to compute forces at the contact interface. Four possible wheel-terrain interaction cases are shown on the basis of relative stiffness of the wheel and terrain. A suspension system is required to move on uneven surfaces. Structures, dynamics, and important features of commonly used suspensions are explained.

An omnidirectional robot with four Swedish wheels

Author  Nexus Automation Limited

Video ID : 328

This video shows a holonomic omnidirectional mobile robot with four Swedish wheels. The wheel enables lateral motion by the use of rotating rollers. Although the structure of each wheel becomes complicated, the driving mechanisms of the wheels become simpler. Another advantage is that the footprint locations remain unchanged during omnidirectional movements.

Chapter 59 — Robotics in Mining

Joshua A. Marshall, Adrian Bonchis, Eduardo Nebot and Steven Scheding

This chapter presents an overview of the state of the art in mining robotics, from surface to underground applications, and beyond. Mining is the practice of extracting resources for utilitarian purposes. Today, the international business of mining is a heavily mechanized industry that exploits the use of large diesel and electric equipment. These machines must operate in harsh, dynamic, and uncertain environments such as, for example, in the high arctic, in extreme desert climates, and in deep underground tunnel networks where it can be very hot and humid. Applications of robotics in mining are broad and include robotic dozing, excavation, and haulage, robotic mapping and surveying, as well as robotic drilling and explosives handling. This chapter describes how many of these applications involve unique technical challenges for field roboticists. However, there are compelling reasons to advance the discipline of mining robotics, which include not only a desire on the part of miners to improve productivity, safety, and lower costs, but also out of a need to meet product demands by accessing orebodies situated in increasingly challenging conditions.

Autonomous loading of fragmented rock

Author  Joshua Marshall

Video ID : 718

This video shows autonomous loading of fragmented rock, first on a 1-t capacity Kubota loader at Kingston, Canada, followed by an implementation on a 14-t capacity Atlas Copco ST14 LHD in an underground mine at Kvarntorp, Sweden. The algorithm used in these demonstrations is based on force-feedback sensed in the loader cylinder pressures and utilizes an admittance control structure.