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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.

HD footage of 1950s atomic power plants - Nuclear reactors

Author  James P. Trevelyan

Video ID : 586

Robot manipulators, mainly remotely controlled and operated by people, have been widely used in the nuclear industry since the 1950s. This video contains archival film footage showing operations using remote manipulators.

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.

A swarm-bot of eight robots displaying coordinated motion

Author  Stefano Nolfi, Gianluca Baldassarre, Vito Trianni, Francesco Mondada, Marco Dorigo

Video ID : 115

Each robot is provided with an independent neural controller which determines the desired speed of the two wheels on the basis of the traction force caused by the movements of the other robots. The evolved robots are able to display coordinated-motion capability, independent from the way in which they are assembled, as well as to coordinate in carrying heavy objects.

Chapter 13 — Behavior-Based Systems

François Michaud and Monica Nicolescu

Nature is filled with examples of autonomous creatures capable of dealing with the diversity, unpredictability, and rapidly changing conditions of the real world. Such creatures must make decisions and take actions based on incomplete perception, time constraints, limited knowledge about the world, cognition, reasoning and physical capabilities, in uncontrolled conditions and with very limited cues about the intent of others. Consequently, one way of evaluating intelligence is based on the creature’s ability to make the most of what it has available to handle the complexities of the real world. The main objective of this chapter is to explain behavior-based systems and their use in autonomous control problems and applications. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 13.1 overviews robot control, introducing behavior-based systems in relation to other established approaches to robot control. Section 13.2 follows by outlining the basic principles of behavior-based systems that make them distinct from other types of robot control architectures. The concept of basis behaviors, the means of modularizing behavior-based systems, is presented in Sect. 13.3. Section 13.4 describes how behaviors are used as building blocks for creating representations for use by behavior-based systems, enabling the robot to reason about the world and about itself in that world. Section 13.5 presents several different classes of learning methods for behavior-based systems, validated on single-robot and multirobot systems. Section 13.6 provides an overview of various robotics problems and application domains that have successfully been addressed or are currently being studied with behavior-based control. Finally, Sect. 13.7 concludes the chapter.

The Nerd Herd

Author  Maja J. Mataric

Video ID : 34

This is a video showing the work done in the early 1990s with the Nerd Herd used as a multirobot behavior-based system. Reference: M.J. Matarić: Designing and understanding adaptive group behavior, Adapt. Behav. 4(1), 50–81 (1995)

Chapter 19 — Robot Hands

Claudio Melchiorri and Makoto Kaneko

Multifingered robot hands have a potential capability for achieving dexterous manipulation of objects by using rolling and sliding motions. This chapter addresses design, actuation, sensing and control of multifingered robot hands. From the design viewpoint, they have a strong constraint in actuator implementation due to the space limitation in each joint. After briefly introducing the overview of anthropomorphic end-effector and its dexterity in Sect. 19.1, various approaches for actuation are provided with their advantages and disadvantages in Sect. 19.2. The key classification is (1) remote actuation or build-in actuation and (2) the relationship between the number of joints and the number of actuator. In Sect. 19.3, actuators and sensors used for multifingered hands are described. In Sect. 19.4, modeling and control are introduced by considering both dynamic effects and friction. Applications and trends are given in Sect. 19.5. Finally, this chapter is closed with conclusions and further reading.

The Barrett Hand

Author  Barrett Technology Inc.

Video ID : 752

The Barrett Hand is one of the first effective commercial robot grippers. Although it is not an anthropomorphic hand, its kinematics and actuation system enable a great diversity of grasps.

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.

Reconfigurable multi-agents with distributed sensing for robust mobile robots

Author  Robin Murphy

Video ID : 206

In marsupial teams, a mother robot carries one or more daughter robots. This video shows that a mother robot can opportunistically treat daughter robots as surrogate sensors in order to autonomously reconfigure herself to recover from sensor failures.

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.

Waalbot: Agile climbing with synthetic fibrillar dry adhesives

Author  Mike Murphy

Video ID : 541

A wall climbing robot developed by Dr. Murphy and Dr. Sitti.

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.

Human-robot teaming in a search-and-retrieve task

Author  Cynthia Breazeal

Video ID : 555

This video shows an example from a human participant study examining the role of nonverbal social signals on human-robot teamwork for a complex search-and-retrieve task. In a controlled experiment, we examined the role of backchanneling and task complexity on team functioning and perceptions of the robots’ engagement and competence. Seventy three participants interacted with autonomous humanoid robots as part of a human-robot team: One participant, one confederate (a remote operator controlling an aerial robot), and three robots (2 mobile humanoids and an aerial robot). We found that, when robots used backchanneling, team functioning improved and the robots were seen as more engaged.

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.

DLR Hand Arm System throwing a ball and Justin catching it

Author  Alin Albu-Schäffer, Thomas Bahls, Berthold Bäuml, Maxime Chalon, Markus Grebenstein, Oliver Eiberger, Werner Friedl, Hannes Höppner, Dominic Lakatos, Nico Mansfeld, Florian Petit, Jens Reinecke, Roman Weitschat, Sebastian Wolf, Tilo Wüsthoff

Video ID : 547

The DLR Hand Arm System throws a ball and Justin catches it. There is no data connection between the two systems. Justin catches the ball by visual observation.

Chapter 18 — Parallel Mechanisms

Jean-Pierre Merlet, Clément Gosselin and Tian Huang

This chapter presents an introduction to the kinematics and dynamics of parallel mechanisms, also referred to as parallel robots. As opposed to classical serial manipulators, the kinematic architecture of parallel robots includes closed-loop kinematic chains. As a consequence, their analysis differs considerably from that of their serial counterparts. This chapter aims at presenting the fundamental formulations and techniques used in their analysis.


Author  Tian Huang

Video ID : 47

This video demonstrates a 2-DOF high-speed parallel robot (Diamond).

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.

Modsnake swimming

Author  Howie Choset

Video ID : 169

The CMU Modsnake swimming in a pool.