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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 In outdoor environments, the flat-surface assumption underling many mapping techniques for indoor environments is no longer valid.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 17 — Limbed Systems

Shuuji Kajita and Christian Ott

A limbed system is a mobile robot with a body, legs and arms. First, its general design process is discussed in Sect. 17.1. Then we consider issues of conceptual design and observe designs of various existing robots in Sect. 17.2. As an example in detail, the design of a humanoid robot HRP-4C is shown in Sect. 17.3. To design a limbed system of good performance, it is important to take into account of actuation and control, like gravity compensation, limit cycle dynamics, template models, and backdrivable actuation. These are discussed in Sect. 17.4.

In Sect. 17.5, we overview divergence of limbed systems. We see odd legged walkers, leg–wheel hybrid robots, leg–arm hybrid robots, tethered walking robots, and wall-climbing robots. To compare limbed systems of different configurations,we can use performance indices such as the gait sensitivity norm, the Froude number, and the specific resistance, etc., which are introduced in Sect. 17.6.

StickybotIII climbing robot

Author  Mark R. Cutkosky

Video ID : 540

A walk climbing robot developed by Prof. Cutkosky and his colleagues.

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.

Reducing uncertainty in robotics surface-assembly tasks

Author  Jing Xiao et al.

Video ID : 356

This video demonstrates how surface assembly strategies with pose estimation can be used to overcome pose uncertainties. The assembly path is updated based on the newly estimated values of parameters after the compliant exploratory move. In this way, the robot is able to successfully overcome disparities between the nominal and the actual poses of the objects to accomplish the assembly. No force sensor is used.

Chapter 58 — Robotics in Hazardous Applications

James Trevelyan, William R. Hamel and Sung-Chul Kang

Robotics researchers have worked hard to realize a long-awaited vision: machines that can eliminate the need for people to work in hazardous environments. Chapter 60 is framed by the vision of disaster response: search and rescue robots carrying people from burning buildings or tunneling through collapsed rock falls to reach trapped miners. In this chapter we review tangible progress towards robots that perform routine work in places too dangerous for humans. Researchers still have many challenges ahead of them but there has been remarkable progress in some areas. Hazardous environments present special challenges for the accomplishment of desired tasks depending on the nature and magnitude of the hazards. Hazards may be present in the form of radiation, toxic contamination, falling objects or potential explosions. Technology that specialized engineering companies can develop and sell without active help from researchers marks the frontier of commercial feasibility. Just inside this border lie teleoperated robots for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and for underwater engineering work. Even with the typical tenfold disadvantage in manipulation performance imposed by the limits of today’s telepresence and teleoperation technology, in terms of human dexterity and speed, robots often can offer a more cost-effective solution. However, most routine applications in hazardous environments still lie far beyond the feasibility frontier. Fire fighting, remediating nuclear contamination, reactor decommissioning, tunneling, underwater engineering, underground mining and clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance still present many unsolved problems.

DIGGER DTR Demining destroying anti-tank mines

Author  James P. Trevelyan

Video ID : 577

This is a Swiss-designed and built, remotely-controlled machine similar to Bozena, shown clearing vegetation. From the video, it seems to lack some of the versatility of Bozena. However, it is clearly able to continue working without being affected by powerful anti-tank mine explosions, even ones with shaped charges like the TMRP-1. Specifications include remote control, 8-ton weight, and deployment from a 20-ft standard shipping container.   The personnel protection shield provides only minimal protection. The more recent DIGGER D-3 ground-milling machine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P154EDpRFew) avoids many of the weaknesses of the flail machine used in the earlier model and incorporates a more robust design, and it also has dust and shrapnel protection.

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.

Discrimination of objects through sensory-motor coordination

Author  Stefano Nolfi

Video ID : 116

A Khepera robot provided with infrared sensors is evolved for the ability to find and remain close to a cylindrical object randomly located in the environment. The discrimination of the two types of objects (walls and cylinders) is realized by exploiting the limit-cycle oscillatory behavio,r which is produced by the robot near the cylinder and which emerges from the robot/environmental interactions (i.e., by the interplay between the way in which the robot react to sensory stimuli and the perceptual consequences of the robot actions).

Chapter 22 — Modular Robots

I-Ming Chen and Mark Yim

This chapter presents a discussion of modular robots from both an industrial and a research point of view. The chapter is divided into four sections, one focusing on existing reconfigurable modular manipulators typically in an industry setting (Sect. 22.2) and another focusing on self-reconfigurable modular robots typically in a research setting (Sect. 22.4). Both sections are sandwiched between the introduction and conclusion sections.

This chapter is focused on design issues. Rather than a survey of existing systems, it presents some of the existing systems in the context of a discussion of the issues and elements in industrial modular robotics and modular robotics research. The reader is encouraged to look at the references for further discussion on any of the presented topics.

SMORES

Author  Jay Davey

Video ID : 1

SMORES robot showing self-reconfiguration. Reference: J. Davey, N. Kwok, M. Yim: Emulating self-reconfigurable robots - Design of the SMORES system, Proc. IEEE/RSJ Int. Conf. Intell. Robot. Syst. (IROS), Vilamoura (2012), pp. 4464-4469

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 cucumber harvester

Author  Elder J. van Henten, Jochen Hemming, Bart A.J. van Tuijl, J.G. Kornet, Jan Meuleman, Jan Bontsema, Erik A. van Os

Video ID : 308

The video demonstrates an autonomous cucumber harvester developed at Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands. The machine consists of a mobile platform which runs on rails, which are commonly used in greenhouses in The Netherlands for the purpose of internal transport, but they are also used as a hot- water heating system for the greenhouse. Harvesting requires functional steps such as the detection and localization of the fruit and assessment of its ripeness. In the case of the cucumber harvester, the different reflection properties in the near infrared spectrum are exploited to detect green cucumbers in the green environment. Whether the cucumber was ready for harvest was identified based on an estimation of its weight. Since cucumbers consist 95% of water, the weight estimation was achieved by estimating the volume of each fruit. Stereo-vision principles were then used to locate the fruits to be harvested in the 3-D environment. For that purpose, the camera was shifted 50 mm on a linear slide and two images of the same scene were taken and processed. A Mitsubishi RV-E2 manipulator was used to steer the gripper-cutter mechanism to the fruit and transport the harvested fruit back to a storage crate. Collision-free motion planning based on the A* algorithm was used to steer the manipulator during the harvesting operation. The cutter consisted of a parallel gripper that grabbed the peduncle of the fruit, i.e., the stem segment that connects the fruit to the main stem of the plant. Then the action of a suction cup immobilized the fruit in the gripper. A special thermal cutting device was used to separate the fruit from the plant. The high temperature of the cutting device also prevented the potential transport of viruses from one plant to the other during the harvesting process. For each successful cucumber harvested, this machine needed 65.2 s on average. The average success rate was 74.4%. It was found to be a great advantage that the system was able to perform several harvest attempts on a single cucumber from different harvest positions of the robot. This improved the success rate considerably. Since not all attempts were successful, a cycle time of 124 s per harvested cucumber was measured under practical circumstances.

Automatic plant probing

Author  Guillem Alenya, Babette Dellen, Sergi Foix, Carme Torras

Video ID : 95

This is a video showing the automatic probing of plant leaves (to measure chlorophyll) with a robotic arm, using a time-of-flight camera and a spadmeter, which are mounted on top. The first part shows plant probing during the final experiments of the EU project GARNICS, performed with a KUKA robot of the Forschungszentrum Juelich. The second part shows probing with a WAM arm at the Institut de Robotica i Informatica Industrial.

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.

Tele-actor

Author  Ken Goldberg, Dezhen Song

Video ID : 83

We describe a networked teleoperation system that enables groups of participants to collaboratively explore real-time remote environments. Participants collaborate using a spatial dynamic voting (SDV) interface which enables them to vote on a sequence of images via a network such as the internet. The SDV interface runs on each client computer and communicates with a central server which collects, displays, and analyzes time sequences of spatial votes. The results are conveyed to the “tele-actor,” a skilled human with cameras and microphones who navigates and performs actions in the remote environment.

Chapter 58 — Robotics in Hazardous Applications

James Trevelyan, William R. Hamel and Sung-Chul Kang

Robotics researchers have worked hard to realize a long-awaited vision: machines that can eliminate the need for people to work in hazardous environments. Chapter 60 is framed by the vision of disaster response: search and rescue robots carrying people from burning buildings or tunneling through collapsed rock falls to reach trapped miners. In this chapter we review tangible progress towards robots that perform routine work in places too dangerous for humans. Researchers still have many challenges ahead of them but there has been remarkable progress in some areas. Hazardous environments present special challenges for the accomplishment of desired tasks depending on the nature and magnitude of the hazards. Hazards may be present in the form of radiation, toxic contamination, falling objects or potential explosions. Technology that specialized engineering companies can develop and sell without active help from researchers marks the frontier of commercial feasibility. Just inside this border lie teleoperated robots for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and for underwater engineering work. Even with the typical tenfold disadvantage in manipulation performance imposed by the limits of today’s telepresence and teleoperation technology, in terms of human dexterity and speed, robots often can offer a more cost-effective solution. However, most routine applications in hazardous environments still lie far beyond the feasibility frontier. Fire fighting, remediating nuclear contamination, reactor decommissioning, tunneling, underwater engineering, underground mining and clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance still present many unsolved problems.

PT-400 D:Mine

Author  James P. Trevelyan

Video ID : 576

This video shows another remotely operated demining machine similar in principle to the BOZENA model (Video 574). The video shows the machine operating only on flat terrain.