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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.

Intrinsically elastic robots: The key to human like performance (Best Video Award)

Author  Sami Haddadin, Felix Huber, Kai Krieger, Roman Weitschat, Alin Albu-Schäffer, Sebastian Wolf, Werner Friedl, Markus Grebenstein, Florian Petit, Jens Reinecke, Roberto Lampariello

Video ID : 475

The advantages of intrinsically elastic robots on their performance are shown by the examples of the DLR LWR III and the DLR Hand Arm System.

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 67 — Humanoids

Paul Fitzpatrick, Kensuke Harada, Charles C. Kemp, Yoshio Matsumoto, Kazuhito Yokoi and Eiichi Yoshida

Humanoid robots selectively immitate aspects of human form and behavior. Humanoids come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from complete human-size legged robots to isolated robotic heads with human-like sensing and expression. This chapter highlights significant humanoid platforms and achievements, and discusses some of the underlying goals behind this area of robotics. Humanoids tend to require the integration ofmany of the methods covered in detail within other chapters of this handbook, so this chapter focuses on distinctive aspects of humanoid robotics with liberal cross-referencing.

This chapter examines what motivates researchers to pursue humanoid robotics, and provides a taste of the evolution of this field over time. It summarizes work on legged humanoid locomotion, whole-body activities, and approaches to human–robot communication. It concludes with a brief discussion of factors that may influence the future of humanoid robots.

3-D, collision-free motion combining locomotion and manipulation by humanoid robot HRP-2 (experiment)

Author  Eiichi Yoshida

Video ID : 598

In this video, the whole-body motion generation described in video 598 is experimentally validated, using the HRP-2 humanoid robot.

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.

Bimanual dissection

Author  Pierre Dupont

Video ID : 249

This 2011 video demonstrates bimanual, teleoperated tissue dissection using a CO2 laser and 1 mm-wide forceps at the Pediatric Cardiac Bioengeneering Lab at Boston Children's Hospital.

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.

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.

Aiko sidewinding

Author  Pål Liljebäck

Video ID : 254

Video of Aiko, a robot developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)/SINTEF Advanced Robotics Laboratory. In this video, the robot performs a sidewinding gait.

Chapter 80 — Roboethics: Social and Ethical Implications

Gianmarco Veruggio, Fiorella Operto and George Bekey

This chapter outlines the main developments of roboethics 9 years after a worldwide debate on the subject – that is, the applied ethics about ethical, legal, and societal aspects of robotics – opened up. Today, roboethics not only counts several thousands of voices on the Web, but is the issue of important literature relating to almost all robotics applications, and of hundreds of rich projects, workshops, and conferences. This increasing interest and sometimes even fierce debate expresses the perception and need of scientists, manufacturers, and users of professional guidelines and ethical indications about robotics in society.

Some of the issues presented in the chapter are well known to engineers, and less known or unknown to scholars of humanities, and vice versa. However, because the subject is transversal to many disciplines, complex, articulated, and often misrepresented, some of the fundamental concepts relating to ethics in science and technology are recalled and clarified.

A detailed taxonomy of sensitive areas is presented. It is based on a study of several years and referred to by scientists and scholars, the result of which is the Euron Roboethics Roadmap. This taxonomy identifies themost evident/urgent/sensitive ethical problems in the main applicative fields of robotics, leaving more in-depth research to further studies.

Roboethics: Prosthesis

Author  Fiorella Operto

Video ID : 774

Ethical, legal and societal issues in medical robotics. Bionic implants and prosthetics can be used to restore human capabilities and functions. Applications range from human prostheses for locomotion, manipulation, vision, sensing, and other functions: Artificial limbs (legs and arms; artificial internal organs (heart, kidney); artificial senses (eyes, ears...); human augmentation (exoskeletons). This field has an important connection with neuroscience to develop neural interfaces and sensory-motor coordination systems for the integration of these bionic devices with the human body/brain. The very distinction between restoring and enhancing is problematic in some cases insofar as interventions on the human body may have a variety of possibly unpredictable side-effects. Social and economic discrimination towards human beings may arise as a consequence of the enhanced physical and mental properties of super-human cyborgs.

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.

Views of robot control screen – Inspecting Fukushima powerplant

Author  James P. Trevelyan

Video ID : 582

This video shows multiple simultaneous camera views from a robot (possibly Quince) inside one of the Fukushima reactor buildings.

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.

3-D textured model of urban environments

Author  Michael Maurer

Video ID : 269

In this video, a micro aerial vehicle developed by the Institute for Computer Graphics and Vision, Graz Univ. of Technology, flies to predefined points and captures images for building a 3-D textured model of an urban environment. The video contains a nice description of the different steps necessary to generate a precise model by fusing the areal images with public geographic data.

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.

Autonomous continuum grasping

Author  Jing Xiao et al.

Video ID : 357

The video shows three example tasks: (1) autonomous grasping and lifting operation of an object, (2) autonomous obstacle avoidance operation, and (3) autonomous operation of grasping and lifting an object while avoiding another object. Note that the grasped object was lifted about 2 inches off the table.