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Chapter 15 — Robot Learning

Jan Peters, Daniel D. Lee, Jens Kober, Duy Nguyen-Tuong, J. Andrew Bagnell and Stefan Schaal

Machine learning offers to robotics a framework and set of tools for the design of sophisticated and hard-to-engineer behaviors; conversely, the challenges of robotic problems provide both inspiration, impact, and validation for developments in robot learning. The relationship between disciplines has sufficient promise to be likened to that between physics and mathematics. In this chapter, we attempt to strengthen the links between the two research communities by providing a survey of work in robot learning for learning control and behavior generation in robots. We highlight both key challenges in robot learning as well as notable successes. We discuss how contributions tamed the complexity of the domain and study the role of algorithms, representations, and prior knowledge in achieving these successes. As a result, a particular focus of our chapter lies on model learning for control and robot reinforcement learning. We demonstrate how machine learning approaches may be profitably applied, and we note throughout open questions and the tremendous potential for future research.

Learning motor primitives

Author  Jens Kober, Jan Peters

Video ID : 355

The video shows recent success in robot learning for two basic motor tasks, namely, ball-in-a-cup and ball paddling. The video illustrates Section 15.3.5 -- Policy Search, of the Springer Handbook of Robotics, 2nd edn (2016). Reference: J. Kober, J. Peters: Imitation and reinforcement learning - Practical algorithms for motor primitive learning in robotics, IEEE Robot. Autom. Mag. 17(2), 55-62 (2010)

Chapter 27 — Micro-/Nanorobots

Bradley J. Nelson, Lixin Dong and Fumihito Arai

The field of microrobotics covers the robotic manipulation of objects with dimensions in the millimeter to micron range as well as the design and fabrication of autonomous robotic agents that fall within this size range. Nanorobotics is defined in the same way only for dimensions smaller than a micron. With the ability to position and orient objects with micron- and nanometer-scale dimensions, manipulation at each of these scales is a promising way to enable the assembly of micro- and nanosystems, including micro- and nanorobots.

This chapter overviews the state of the art of both micro- and nanorobotics, outlines scaling effects, actuation, and sensing and fabrication at these scales, and focuses on micro- and nanorobotic manipulation systems and their application in microassembly, biotechnology, and the construction and characterization of micro and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS). Material science, biotechnology, and micro- and nanoelectronics will also benefit from advances in these areas of robotics.

A transversely magnetized, rod-shaped microrobot

Author  Bradley J. Nelson

Video ID : 13

This video shows a transversely magnetized, rod-shaped microrobot, named the RodBot, manipulating a polystyrene sphere of diameter 130 µm in a liquid. The RodBot rolls around its long axis on a surface and its speed and orientation are controlled by external, rotating magnetic fields. The flows generated by the RodBot are capable of lifting up the polystyrene sphere, trapping it in the vortex above the RodBot and transporting it to any predefined location in the solution.

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.

Mobile robot helper

Author  Kazuhiro Kosuge, Manabu Sato, Norihide Kazamura

Video ID : 788

The mobile robot helper has two 7-DOF arms, force/torque sensors. Named Mr. Helper, it helps people to move objects, using FT sensor and impedance control system.

Flight stability in an aerial redundant manipulator

Author  Christopher Korpela, Matko Orsag, Todd Danko, Bryan Kobe, Clayton McNeil, Robert Pisch, Paul Oh

Video ID : 782

A Buoyancy envelope can be used to compensate for the inherent instability of quadrotor UAVs by decreasing drift and increasing the moment of inertia of the rotorcraft. Also, computer-aided control was implemented and tested for controlling the aerial manipulator using a motion-capture system. The closed-loop controller compensates for the disturbances due to the dynamics of the manipulator and interaction force at the end-effector in the control of the UAV.

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.

Husqvarna Automower vs competitors

Author  Erwin Prassler

Video ID : 731

Video shows a comparison of the Automower of Husquarna with the products of competitors such as Friendly Machines, John Deer, and Honda.

Chapter 19 — Robot Hands

Claudio Melchiorri and Makoto Kaneko

Multifingered robot hands have a potential capability for achieving dexterous manipulation of objects by using rolling and sliding motions. This chapter addresses design, actuation, sensing and control of multifingered robot hands. From the design viewpoint, they have a strong constraint in actuator implementation due to the space limitation in each joint. After briefly introducing the overview of anthropomorphic end-effector and its dexterity in Sect. 19.1, various approaches for actuation are provided with their advantages and disadvantages in Sect. 19.2. The key classification is (1) remote actuation or build-in actuation and (2) the relationship between the number of joints and the number of actuator. In Sect. 19.3, actuators and sensors used for multifingered hands are described. In Sect. 19.4, modeling and control are introduced by considering both dynamic effects and friction. Applications and trends are given in Sect. 19.5. Finally, this chapter is closed with conclusions and further reading.

A high-speed hand

Author  Ishikawa Komuro Lab

Video ID : 755

Ishikawa Komuro Lab's high-speed robot hand performing impressive acts of dexterity and skillful manipulation.

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.

A path-following control scheme for a four-wheeled mobile robot

Author  Genya Ishigami, Keiji Nagatani, Kazuya Yoshida

Video ID : 188

This video shows a feedback control for planetary rovers. It calculates both steering and driving maneuvers that can compensate for wheel slips and also enable the rover to successfully traverse a sandy slope. The performance was confirmed in slope traversal experiments using a four-wheeled rover test bed. In this split video clip, no slip control is performed on the left, and slip-compensation-feedback control is conducted on the right. The rover's motion is detected by the visual odometry system using a telecentric camera.

Chapter 79 — Robotics for Education

David P. Miller and Illah Nourbakhsh

Educational robotics programs have become popular in most developed countries and are becoming more and more prevalent in the developing world as well. Robotics is used to teach problem solving, programming, design, physics, math and even music and art to students at all levels of their education. This chapter provides an overview of some of the major robotics programs along with the robot platforms and the programming environments commonly used. Like robot systems used in research, there is a constant development and upgrade of hardware and software – so this chapter provides a snapshot of the technologies being used at this time. The chapter concludes with a review of the assessment strategies that can be used to determine if a particular robotics program is benefitting students in the intended ways.

SeaPerch Challenge 2014 'The Heist'

Author  Chris Hansen

Video ID : 634

This video shows one of the first runs of the 2014 SeaPerch Challenge, in which underwater, remotely-operated robots have to maneuver between obstacles while collecting objects from the floor of the pool.

Chapter 45 — World Modeling

Wolfram Burgard, Martial Hebert and Maren Bennewitz

In this chapter we describe popular ways to represent the environment of a mobile robot. For indoor environments, which are often stored using two-dimensional representations, we discuss occupancy grids, line maps, topologicalmaps, and landmark-based representations. Each of these techniques has its own advantages and disadvantages. Whilst occupancy grid maps allow for quick access and can efficiently be updated, line maps are more compact. Also landmark-basedmaps can efficiently be updated and maintained, however, they do not readily support navigation tasks such as path planning like topological representations do.

Additionally, we discuss approaches suited for outdoor terrain modeling. In outdoor environments, the flat-surface assumption underling many mapping techniques for indoor environments is no longer valid. A very popular approach in this context are elevation and variants maps, which store the surface of the terrain over a regularly spaced grid. Alternatives to such maps are point clouds, meshes, or three-dimensional grids, which provide a greater flexibility but have higher storage demands.

Service-robot navigation in urban environments

Author  Christian Siagian

Video ID : 270

This video presents the navigation system of the Beobot service robot of the iLab, University of Southern California (USC). Beobot's task is to fulfill services in urban-like environments, especially those involving long-range travel. The robot uses a topological map for global localization based on acquired images.

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.

The Intelligent Autonomous Weeder

Author  Tijmen Bakker, Kees Van Asselt, Jan Bontsema, Joachim Müller, Gerrit van Straten

Video ID : 310

The Intelligent Autonomous Weeder is a four-wheel, steered, four-wheel-drive, autonomous platform which can be used for autonomous weeding operations in arable farming. An RTK DGPS system is used for navigation. The control architecture is based on a hybrid deliberative and behavior-based reactive approach.