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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.

A method for transporting a team of miniature robots

Author  Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos

Video ID : 205

A scout robot is a small robot with a limited battery supply that is used mainly for reconnaissance. This research uses a larger robot to transport the scouts to an area of interest. The scouts can then jump into and out of a platform on the larger robot, thus increasing the distance the scouts can search.

Chapter 11 — Robots with Flexible Elements

Alessandro De Luca and Wayne J. Book

Design issues, dynamic modeling, trajectory planning, and feedback control problems are presented for robot manipulators having components with mechanical flexibility, either concentrated at the joints or distributed along the links. The chapter is divided accordingly into two main parts. Similarities or differences between the two types of flexibility are pointed out wherever appropriate.

For robots with flexible joints, the dynamic model is derived in detail by following a Lagrangian approach and possible simplified versions are discussed. The problem of computing the nominal torques that produce a desired robot motion is then solved. Regulation and trajectory tracking tasks are addressed by means of linear and nonlinear feedback control designs.

For robots with flexible links, relevant factors that lead to the consideration of distributed flexibility are analyzed. Dynamic models are presented, based on the treatment of flexibility through lumped elements, transfer matrices, or assumed modes. Several specific issues are then highlighted, including the selection of sensors, the model order used for control design, and the generation of effective commands that reduce or eliminate residual vibrations in rest-to-rest maneuvers. Feedback control alternatives are finally discussed.

In each of the two parts of this chapter, a section is devoted to the illustration of the original references and to further readings on the subject.

Control experiments for a flexible-joint robot arm

Author  Mark Spong

Video ID : 135

This 1989 video is about an experimental single-link arm with an elastic joint moving under gravity, which was developed at the Coordinated Science Lab of the University of Illinois at Urbana. The video illustrates some of the control techniques that are mentioned in the first part of Chap. 11: e.g., computed torque using the rigid model (unstable), feedback linearizing control including elasticity (perfect design), and corrective control based on singular perturbation analysis (and its adaptive version). Reference: F. Ghorbel, J.Y. Hung, M.W. Spong: Adaptive control of flexible joint robots, IEEE Control Syst. Mag. 9(7), 9-13 (1989) doi: 10.1109/37.41450

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.

Roller-Walker: Leg-wheel hybrid vehicle

Author  Gen Endo

Video ID : 535

A leg-wheel hybrid vehicle developed by Dr. Endo.

Chapter 72 — Social Robotics

Cynthia Breazeal, Kerstin Dautenhahn and Takayuki Kanda

This chapter surveys some of the principal research trends in Social Robotics and its application to human–robot interaction (HRI). Social (or Sociable) robots are designed to interact with people in a natural, interpersonal manner – often to achieve positive outcomes in diverse applications such as education, health, quality of life, entertainment, communication, and tasks requiring collaborative teamwork. The long-term goal of creating social robots that are competent and capable partners for people is quite a challenging task. They will need to be able to communicate naturally with people using both verbal and nonverbal signals. They will need to engage us not only on a cognitive level, but on an emotional level as well in order to provide effective social and task-related support to people. They will need a wide range of socialcognitive skills and a theory of other minds to understand human behavior, and to be intuitively understood by people. A deep understanding of human intelligence and behavior across multiple dimensions (i. e., cognitive, affective, physical, social, etc.) is necessary in order to design robots that can successfully play a beneficial role in the daily lives of people. This requires a multidisciplinary approach where the design of social robot technologies and methodologies are informed by robotics, artificial intelligence, psychology, neuroscience, human factors, design, anthropology, and more.

Explaining a typical session with Sunflower as a home companion in the Robot House

Author  Kerstin Dautenhahn

Video ID : 221

The video illustrates and explains one of the final showcases of the European project LIREC ( in the University of Hertfordshire Robot House. The Sunflower robot, developed at UH, provides cognitive and physical assistance in a home scenario. In the video, one of the researchers, Dag Syrdal, explains a typical session in long-term evaluation studies in the Robot House. Sunflower has access to a network of smart sensors in the Robot House. The video also illustrates the concept of migration (moving of the robot's mind/AI to a differently embodied system).

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 30 — Sonar Sensing

Lindsay Kleeman and Roman Kuc

Sonar or ultrasonic sensing uses the propagation of acoustic energy at higher frequencies than normal hearing to extract information from the environment. This chapter presents the fundamentals and physics of sonar sensing for object localization, landmark measurement and classification in robotics applications. The source of sonar artifacts is explained and how they can be dealt with. Different ultrasonic transducer technologies are outlined with their main characteristics highlighted.

Sonar systems are described that range in sophistication from low-cost threshold-based ranging modules to multitransducer multipulse configurations with associated signal processing requirements capable of accurate range and bearing measurement, interference rejection, motion compensation, and target classification. Continuous-transmission frequency-modulated (CTFM) systems are introduced and their ability to improve target sensitivity in the presence of noise is discussed. Various sonar ring designs that provide rapid surrounding environmental coverage are described in conjunction with mapping results. Finally the chapter ends with a discussion of biomimetic sonar, which draws inspiration from animals such as bats and dolphins.

Monash DSP sonar tracking a moving plane

Author  Lindsay Kleeman

Video ID : 313

A four-transducer system is controlled with a DSP microcontroller which processes echoes to determine the normal incidence and range to a plane reflector. The transducer scans to locate the plane and then tracks the normal-incidence section of the plane as it moves in real time.

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.

A perching mechanism for micro aerial vehicles

Author  Mirko Kovač, Jürg Germann, Christoph Hürzeler, Roland Y. Siegwart, Dario Floreano

Video ID : 416

This video shows a 4.6 g perching mechanism for micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) which enables them to perch on various vertical surfaces such as tree trunks and the external walls of concrete buildings. To achieve high impact force, needles snap forward and puncture as the trigger collides with the target's surface.

Chapter 26 — Flying Robots

Stefan Leutenegger, Christoph Hürzeler, Amanda K. Stowers, Kostas Alexis, Markus W. Achtelik, David Lentink, Paul Y. Oh and Roland Siegwart

Unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) have drawn increasing attention recently, owing to advancements in related research, technology, and applications. While having been deployed successfully in military scenarios for decades, civil use cases have lately been tackled by the robotics research community.

This chapter overviews the core elements of this highly interdisciplinary field; the reader is guided through the design process of aerial robots for various applications starting with a qualitative characterization of different types of UAS. Design and modeling are closely related, forming a typically iterative process of drafting and analyzing the related properties. Therefore, we overview aerodynamics and dynamics, as well as their application to fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and flapping-wing UAS, including related analytical tools and practical guidelines. Respecting use-case-specific requirements and core autonomous robot demands, we finally provide guidelines to related system integration challenges.

Robotic insects make first controlled flight

Author  Robert J. Wood

Video ID : 697

First flight results of the RoboBee project.

Chapter 46 — Simultaneous Localization and Mapping

Cyrill Stachniss, John J. Leonard and Sebastian Thrun

This chapter provides a comprehensive introduction in to the simultaneous localization and mapping problem, better known in its abbreviated form as SLAM. SLAM addresses the main perception problem of a robot navigating an unknown environment. While navigating the environment, the robot seeks to acquire a map thereof, and at the same time it wishes to localize itself using its map. The use of SLAM problems can be motivated in two different ways: one might be interested in detailed environment models, or one might seek to maintain an accurate sense of a mobile robot’s location. SLAM serves both of these purposes.

We review the three major paradigms from which many published methods for SLAM are derived: (1) the extended Kalman filter (EKF); (2) particle filtering; and (3) graph optimization. We also review recent work in three-dimensional (3-D) SLAM using visual and red green blue distance-sensors (RGB-D), and close with a discussion of open research problems in robotic mapping.

Fast iterative alignment of pose graphs

Author  Edwin Olson

Video ID : 444

This video provides an illustration of graph-based SLAM, as described in Chap. 46.3.3, Springer Handbook of Robotics, 2nd edn (2016), using the MIT Killian Court data set. Reference: E. Olson, J. Leonard, S. Teller: Fast iterative alignment of pose graphs with poor initial estimates, Proc. IEEE Int. Conf. Robot. Autom. (ICRA), Orlando (2006), pp. 2262 - 2269; doi: 10.1109/ROBOT.2006.1642040.

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.

iRobots inspecting interior of Fukushima powerplant

Author  James P. Trevelyan

Video ID : 580

A video timestamped April 17, 2011, with English commentary.