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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.

Dynamic walking of whole-body compliant humanoid COMAN

Author  Chengxu Zhou, Xin Wang, Zhibin Li, Nikolaos Tsagarakis

Video ID : 465

COMAN performing dynamic walking.

Chapter 4 — Mechanism and Actuation

Victor Scheinman, J. Michael McCarthy and Jae-Bok Song

This chapter focuses on the principles that guide the design and construction of robotic systems. The kinematics equations and Jacobian of the robot characterize its range of motion and mechanical advantage, and guide the selection of its size and joint arrangement. The tasks a robot is to perform and the associated precision of its movement determine detailed features such as mechanical structure, transmission, and actuator selection. Here we discuss in detail both the mathematical tools and practical considerations that guide the design of mechanisms and actuation for a robot system.

The following sections (Sect. 4.1) discuss characteristics of the mechanisms and actuation that affect the performance of a robot. Sections 4.2–4.6 discuss the basic features of a robot manipulator and their relationship to the mathematical model that is used to characterize its performance. Sections 4.7 and 4.8 focus on the details of the structure and actuation of the robot and how they combine to yield various types of robots. The final Sect. 4.9 relates these design features to various performance metrics.

Harmonic drive

Author  Harmonic Drive AG

Video ID : 649

Fig. 4.28 The harmonic drive.

Chapter 1 — Robotics and the Handbook

Bruno Siciliano and Oussama Khatib

Robots! Robots on Mars and in oceans, in hospitals and homes, in factories and schools; robots fighting fires, making goods and products, saving time and lives. Robots today are making a considerable impact on many aspects of modern life, from industrial manufacturing to healthcare, transportation, and exploration of the deep space and sea. Tomorrow, robotswill be as pervasive and personal as today’s personal computers. This chapter retraces the evolution of this fascinating field from the ancient to themodern times through a number of milestones: from the first automated mechanical artifact (1400 BC) through the establishment of the robot concept in the 1920s, the realization of the first industrial robots in the 1960s, the definition of robotics science and the birth of an active research community in the 1980s, and the expansion towards the challenges of the human world of the twenty-first century. Robotics in its long journey has inspired this handbook which is organized in three layers: the foundations of robotics science; the consolidated methodologies and technologies of robot design, sensing and perception, manipulation and interfaces, mobile and distributed robotics; the advanced applications of field and service robotics, as well as of human-centered and life-like robotics.

Robots — The journey continues

Author  Bruno Siciliano, Oussama Khatib, Torsten Kröger

Video ID : 812

Following the 2000 history video entitled robots, a 50 year journey (Video ID 805), this new collection brings some of the most influential robots and their applications developed since the turn of the new Millennium (2000 and 2016). The journey continues to illustrate the remarkable acceleration of the robotics field in the new century.

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.

Bozena 5 remotely-operated robot vehicle

Author  James P. Trevelyan

Video ID : 574

This is an example of several videos available on YouTube showing this Slovak-designed and -constructed machine. It shows the vehicle being used in different test areas with brief glimpses of other mine-resistant vehicles. BOZENA 5 was designed to support mine-clearance teams operating in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina, removing mines left over from the civil war in the 1990s. In the areas affected by mines, one of the biggest challenges is the rapid growth of vegetation during the summer months. Bare ground can be submerged in vegetation over 1 m high after just two or three weeks. Military defensive positions were often set up on uneven ground with steep slopes which were then mined to deter attacks from other parties in the conflict. Mines were also removed from these defensive minefields and re-laid along routes used for smuggling goods and people. The smugglers would be able to charge higher prices because only they knew how to safely move along the routes. The smuggling routes (and their parent organizations) persisted long after the end of the formal conflict, complicating mine-clearance operations. That is why small, remote control vehicles like this proved to be so effective. They were highly manoeuvrable, easily transported, adaptable with different tools and equipment, and could be safely operated. The machine comes with an armored operator cabin and the whole system can be packed and deployed from a 40-foot shipping container weighing 16 tons. The greatest threat to the de-miners was from bounding fragmentation mines which typically had a lethal radius of several hundred meters. These vehicles provided a means to operate safely in areas affected by these mines. One of the major disadvantages of these machines is the destruction of surface vegetation that can lead to rapid erosion, if there is heavy rain in the weeks following mine clearance operations. Sudden heavy downpours are common in summer months. Therefore, they had to be used with considerable discretion and local knowledge.

Chapter 74 — Learning from Humans

Aude G. Billard, Sylvain Calinon and Rüdiger Dillmann

This chapter surveys the main approaches developed to date to endow robots with the ability to learn from human guidance. The field is best known as robot programming by demonstration, robot learning from/by demonstration, apprenticeship learning and imitation learning. We start with a brief historical overview of the field. We then summarize the various approaches taken to solve four main questions: when, what, who and when to imitate. We emphasize the importance of choosing well the interface and the channels used to convey the demonstrations, with an eye on interfaces providing force control and force feedback. We then review algorithmic approaches to model skills individually and as a compound and algorithms that combine learning from human guidance with reinforcement learning. We close with a look on the use of language to guide teaching and a list of open issues.

Learning compliant motion from human demonstration

Author  Aude Billard

Video ID : 478

This video illustrates how one can teach a robot to display the right amount of stiffness to perform a task successfully. Decrease in stiffness is demonstrated by shaking the robot, while increase in stiffness is conveyed by pressing on the robot's arm (pressure being measured through tactile sensors along the robot's arm). Reference: K. Kronander,A. Billard: Learning compliant manipulation through kinesthetic and tactile human-robot interaction, IEEE Trans. Haptics 7(3), 367-380 (2013); doi: 10.1109/TOH.2013.54 .

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.

Human inspired tele-impedance and minimum-effort controller for improved manipulation Performance‬

Author  IIT Videos

Video ID : 815

Humans incorporate and switch between learnt neuro-motor strategies while performing complex tasks. To this purpose, kinematic redundancy is exploited in order to achieve optimized performance. Inspired by the superior motor skills of humans, in this work, we investigate a combined free-motion and contact-efficient controller in a certain class of robotic manipulation. In this multiple-criteria controller, kinematic degrees of redundancy are adapted according to task-suitable dynamic costs. The proposed algorithm attributes high priority to a minimum-effort controller while performing point-to-point, free-space movements. Once the robot comes into contact with the environment, the tele-impedance, common mode stiffness (CMS)-configuration dependent stiffness (CDS) controller will replicate the human's estimated endpoint stiffness and measured equilibrium-position profiles in the slave robotic arm, in real-time.

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.

Two-dimensional binary manipulator

Author  Greg Chirikjian

Video ID : 160

Greg Chirikjian's binary manipulator operating in two dimensions.

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.

Inverse reinforcement

Author  Pieter Abbeel

Video ID : 353

This video shows a successful example of inverse reinforcement learning for acrobatic helicopter maneuvers. It illustrates apprenticeship learning algorithms, which leverage expert demonstrations to efficiently learn good controllers for tasks as demonstrated by an expert. The experimental results captured here include the first autonomous execution of a wide range of maneuvers and a complete airshow. The controllers perform as well as, and often even better than, the human expert pilot. The video illustrates a solution to the "Curse of Goal Specification" in Sect 15.3.6 Challenges in Robot Reinforcement Learning. Reference: P. Abbeel, A. Coates, A.Y. Ng: Autonomous helicopter aerobatics through apprenticeship learning, Int. J. Robot. Res. 29(13), 1608–1639 (2010)

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.

Evolution of visually-guided behaviour on Sussex gantry robot

Author  Phil Husbands

Video ID : 371

Behaviour evolved in the real world on the Sussex gantry robot in 1994. Controllers (evolved neural networks plus visual sampling morphology) are automatically evaluated on the actual robot. The required behaviour is a shape discrimination task: to move to the triangle, while ignoring the rectangle, under very noisy lighting conditions.

Chapter 61 — Robot Surveillance and Security

Wendell H. Chun and Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos

This chapter introduces the foundation for surveillance and security robots for multiple military and civilian applications. The key environmental domains are mobile robots for ground, aerial, surface water, and underwater applications. Surveillance literallymeans to watch fromabove,while surveillance robots are used to monitor the behavior, activities, and other changing information that are gathered for the general purpose of managing, directing, or protecting one’s assets or position. In a practical sense, the term surveillance is taken to mean the act of observation from a distance, and security robots are commonly used to protect and safeguard a location, some valuable assets, or personal against danger, damage, loss, and crime. Surveillance is a proactive operation,while security robots are a defensive operation. The construction of each type of robot is similar in nature with amobility component, sensor payload, communication system, and an operator control station.

After introducing the major robot components, this chapter focuses on the various applications. More specifically, Sect. 61.3 discusses the enabling technologies of mobile robot navigation, various payload sensors used for surveillance or security applications, target detection and tracking algorithms, and the operator’s robot control console for human–machine interface (HMI). Section 61.4 presents selected research activities relevant to surveillance and security, including automatic data processing of the payload sensors, automaticmonitoring of human activities, facial recognition, and collaborative automatic target recognition (ATR). Finally, Sect. 61.5 discusses future directions in robot surveillance and security, giving some conclusions and followed by references.

Security: Facial recognition

Author  Ali Mollahosseini, Mohammad Mahoor

Video ID : 553

Video of face tracking and facial-landmark-point extraction of Ali's face for a security robot.