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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.

Online learning to adapt to fast environmental variations

Author  Dario Floreano

Video ID : 40

A mobile robot Khepera, equipped with a vision module, can gain fitness points by staying on the gray area only when the light is on. The light is normally off, but it can be switched on if the robot passes over the black area positioned on the other side of the arena. The robot can detect ambient light and wall color, but not the color of the floor.

Resilent machines through continuous self-modeling

Author  Josh Bongard, Victor Zykov, Hod Lipson

Video ID : 114

This video demonstrates a typical experiment with a resilent machine.

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.

Trajectory generation and control for a KUKA IR 161/60 robot

Author  Joris De Schutter

Video ID : 770

This ICRA 1992 video shows the performance obtained with two simple modifications of a standard robot controller for a KUKA IR 161/60 industrial robot, namely improved trajectory generation and control of the first joint bases on a flexible joint model. At very high velocities and accelerations, there is a significant difference between the flexible controller and a classical PID controller. A nonlinear flexible controller implemented for links 2 and 3 improves the static and dynamic accuracy of the robot. Reference: J. Swevers, D. Torfs, M. Adams, J. De Schutter, H. Van Brussel: Comparison of control algorithms for flexible joint robots implemented on a Kuka IR 161/60 industrial robot, 5th Int. Conf. Adv. Robot., Pisa (1991), pp. 120-125; doi: 10.1109/ICAR.1991.240465

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.

PT-400 D:Mine

Author  James P. Trevelyan

Video ID : 576

This video shows another remotely operated demining machine similar in principle to the BOZENA model (Video 574). The video shows the machine operating only on flat terrain.

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.

3-DOF high-speed 3-RPS parallel robot

Author  Tian Huang

Video ID : 43

This video demonstrates a 3-DOF high-speed 3-RPS parallel robot (with A3 head).

Chapter 40 — Mobility and Manipulation

Oliver Brock, Jaeheung Park and Marc Toussaint

Mobile manipulation requires the integration of methodologies from all aspects of robotics. Instead of tackling each aspect in isolation,mobilemanipulation research exploits their interdependence to solve challenging problems. As a result, novel views of long-standing problems emerge. In this chapter, we present these emerging views in the areas of grasping, control, motion generation, learning, and perception. All of these areas must address the shared challenges of high-dimensionality, uncertainty, and task variability. The section on grasping and manipulation describes a trend towards actively leveraging contact and physical and dynamic interactions between hand, object, and environment. Research in control addresses the challenges of appropriately coupling mobility and manipulation. The field of motion generation increasingly blurs the boundaries between control and planning, leading to task-consistent motion in high-dimensional configuration spaces, even in dynamic and partially unknown environments. A key challenge of learning formobilemanipulation consists of identifying the appropriate priors, and we survey recent learning approaches to perception, grasping, motion, and manipulation. Finally, a discussion of promising methods in perception shows how concepts and methods from navigation and active perception are applied.

Atlas walking and manipulation

Author  DRC Team MIT

Video ID : 662

Autonomy demonstration with the MIT Atlas robot which is composed of the execution of a sequence of autonomous sub-tasks. Walking and manipulation plans are computed online with object fitting input from the perception system.

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.

Biologically-inspired climbing with a hexapedal robot

Author  Matthew J. Spenko, Galen C. Haynes, Jeffrey A. Saunders, Mark R. Cutkosky, Alfred A. Rizzi, Robert J. Full, Daniel E. Koditschek

Video ID : 390

A climbing robot that grasps the microtexture of the surface using special feet and special motions. The development team includes researchers from U Penn, Stanford, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon and Boston Dynamics.

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 50 — Modeling and Control of Robots on Rough Terrain

Keiji Nagatani, Genya Ishigami and Yoshito Okada

In this chapter, we introduce modeling and control for wheeled mobile robots and tracked vehicles. The target environment is rough terrains, which includes both deformable soil and heaps of rubble. Therefore, the topics are roughly divided into two categories, wheeled robots on deformable soil and tracked vehicles on heaps of rubble.

After providing an overview of this area in Sect. 50.1, a modeling method of wheeled robots on a deformable terrain is introduced in Sect. 50.2. It is based on terramechanics, which is the study focusing on the mechanical properties of natural rough terrain and its response to off-road vehicle, specifically the interaction between wheel/track and soil. In Sect. 50.3, the control of wheeled robots is introduced. A wheeled robot often experiences wheel slippage as well as its sideslip while traversing rough terrain. Therefore, the basic approach in this section is to compensate the slip via steering and driving maneuvers. In the case of navigation on heaps of rubble, tracked vehicles have much advantage. To improve traversability in such challenging environments, some tracked vehicles are equipped with subtracks, and one kinematical modeling method of tracked vehicle on rough terrain is introduced in Sect. 50.4. In addition, stability analysis of such vehicles is introduced in Sect. 50.5. Based on such kinematical model and stability analysis, a sensor-based control of tracked vehicle on rough terrain is introduced in Sect. 50.6. Sect. 50.7 summarizes this chapter.

Mobility prediction of rovers on soft terrain

Author  Daniel Holz, Ali Azimi, Marek Teichmann, Jozsef Kavecses

Video ID : 184

This video is an animated dynamic simulation of a vehicle traveling on sandy terrain. The simulator carefully considers mechanical interactions based on relationships between the wheel and the terrain and between the tool and the terrain. In particular, a discrete-element method is employed in order to represent the tool-sand interactions.

Chapter 27 — Micro-/Nanorobots

Bradley J. Nelson, Lixin Dong and Fumihito Arai

The field of microrobotics covers the robotic manipulation of objects with dimensions in the millimeter to micron range as well as the design and fabrication of autonomous robotic agents that fall within this size range. Nanorobotics is defined in the same way only for dimensions smaller than a micron. With the ability to position and orient objects with micron- and nanometer-scale dimensions, manipulation at each of these scales is a promising way to enable the assembly of micro- and nanosystems, including micro- and nanorobots.

This chapter overviews the state of the art of both micro- and nanorobotics, outlines scaling effects, actuation, and sensing and fabrication at these scales, and focuses on micro- and nanorobotic manipulation systems and their application in microassembly, biotechnology, and the construction and characterization of micro and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS). Material science, biotechnology, and micro- and nanoelectronics will also benefit from advances in these areas of robotics.

Artificial bacterial flagella

Author  Bradley J. Nelson

Video ID : 11

This video shows two swimming microrobots (named artificial bacterial flagella) which are actuated by an externally applied magnetic torque. The microrobots are made of a magnetic, nanoparticle composite. They are steered manually through polymer microtunnels.