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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.

Essex series robotic fish

Author  Jindong Liu, Huosheng Hu

Video ID : 431

These are Essex autonomous robotic fish tested in a public fish tank in the London Aquarium. The video was captured during preparations for unveiling the World's first autonomous robotic fish in 2006. It was reported by BBC and other news outlets. There are three motors on the tail joint. The skin is cosmetic and water flooded. The various models are labelled G6 , G8, andG9. This video shows how a "fish" detects the tank wall and other "fish" by IR sensors and changes its path to avoid collision.

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.

RHex rough-terrain robot

Author  Boston Dynamics

Video ID : 536

A leg-wheel hybrid robot RHex developed by Boston Dynamics.

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.

B-scan image of indoor potted tree using multipulse sonar

Author  Roman Kuc

Video ID : 315

By repeatedly clearing the conventional sonar ranging board, each echo produces a spike sequence that is related to the echo amplitude. A brightness-scan (B-scan) image - similar to diagnostic ultrasound images - is generated by transforming the short-term spike density into a gray scale intensity. The video shows a B-scan of a potted tree in an indoor environment containing a doorway (with door knob) and a tree located in front of a cinder-block wall. The B-scan shows the specular environmental features as well as the random tree-leaf structures. Note that the wall behind the tree is also clearly imaged. Reference: R. Kuc: Generating B-scans of the environment with a conventional sonar, IEEE Sensor. J. 8(2), 151 - 160 (2008); doi: 10.1109/JSEN.2007.908242 .

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.

A robot for harvesting sweet peppers in greenhouses

Author  Jochen Hemming, Wouter Bac, Bart van Tuijl, Ruud Barth, Eldert van Henten, Jan Bontsema, Erik Pekkeriet

Video ID : 304

This video shows robotic harvesting of sweet-pepper fruits in a commercial Dutch greenhouse in June 2014. The base of the robot consists of two carrier modules. On the first are located the manipulator (nine degrees-of-freedom), specifically developed for this project, the control electronics and the computers. On the sensor carrier module, two 5 megapixel color cameras (comprising a small baseline stereo setup) and a time-of-flight (TOF) camera are installed. Around the sensors, a light grid is placed to illuminate the scene. The sensor system is mounted on a linear motorized slide and can be horizontally moved in and out of the workspace of the manipulator. Machine-vision software localizes ripe fruits and obstacles in 3D. Two different types of end-effectors were designed and tested. The fin-ray gripper features a combined grip and cut mechanism. This end-effector first grips the fruit and after that the peduncle of the fruit is cut. The lip-type end-effector first stabilizes the fruit using a suction cup after which two rings enclose the fruit and cut the peduncle of the fruit. Both end-effectors have a miniature RGB and a TOF camera for refining the fruit position and to determine the fruit pose. This robot demonstrator is one of the results of the EU project CROPS, Clever Robots for Crops (

Chapter 28 — Force and Tactile Sensing

Mark R. Cutkosky and William Provancher

This chapter provides an overview of force and tactile sensing, with the primary emphasis placed on tactile sensing. We begin by presenting some basic considerations in choosing a tactile sensor and then review a wide variety of sensor types, including proximity, kinematic, force, dynamic, contact, skin deflection, thermal, and pressure sensors. We also review various transduction methods, appropriate for each general sensor type. We consider the information that these various types of sensors provide in terms of whether they are most useful for manipulation, surface exploration or being responsive to contacts from external agents.

Concerning the interpretation of tactile information, we describe the general problems and present two short illustrative examples. The first involves intrinsic tactile sensing, i. e., estimating contact locations and forces from force sensors. The second involves contact pressure sensing, i. e., estimating surface normal and shear stress distributions from an array of sensors in an elastic skin. We conclude with a brief discussion of the challenges that remain to be solved in packaging and manufacturing damage-tolerant tactile sensors.

Capacitive tactile sensing

Author  Mark Cutkosky

Video ID : 14

Video demonstrating the capacitive tactile sensing suite on the SRI-Meka-Stanford four-fingered hand built for the DARPA ARM-H Mobile Manipulation program.

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.

Hammering task with the DLR Hand Arm System

Author  Markus Grebenstein, Alin Albu-Schäffer, Thomas Bahls, Maxime Chalon, Oliver Eiberger, Werner Friedl, Robin Gruber, Sami Haddadin, Ulrich Hagn, Robert Haslinger, Hannes Höppner, Stefan Jörg, Mathias Nickl, Alexander Nothhelfer, Florian Petit, Josef Rei

Video ID : 464

The DLR Hand Arm System uses a hammer to drive a nail into a wooden board. The passive flexibility in the variable stiffness actuators (VSA) helps to keep a stable grasp during the impact and protects the hardware from damage.

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 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.

Metamorphic robotic system

Author  Amit Pamecha, Gregory Chirikjian

Video ID : 198

This video describes a metamorphic robotic system composed of many robotic modules, each of which has the ability to locomote over its neighbors. Mechanical coupling enables the robots to interact with each other.