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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.

Bozena 5 remotely-operated robot vehicle

Author  James P. Trevelyan

Video ID : 574

This is an example of several videos available on YouTube showing this Slovak-designed and -constructed machine. It shows the vehicle being used in different test areas with brief glimpses of other mine-resistant vehicles. BOZENA 5 was designed to support mine-clearance teams operating in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina, removing mines left over from the civil war in the 1990s. In the areas affected by mines, one of the biggest challenges is the rapid growth of vegetation during the summer months. Bare ground can be submerged in vegetation over 1 m high after just two or three weeks. Military defensive positions were often set up on uneven ground with steep slopes which were then mined to deter attacks from other parties in the conflict. Mines were also removed from these defensive minefields and re-laid along routes used for smuggling goods and people. The smugglers would be able to charge higher prices because only they knew how to safely move along the routes. The smuggling routes (and their parent organizations) persisted long after the end of the formal conflict, complicating mine-clearance operations. That is why small, remote control vehicles like this proved to be so effective. They were highly manoeuvrable, easily transported, adaptable with different tools and equipment, and could be safely operated. The machine comes with an armored operator cabin and the whole system can be packed and deployed from a 40-foot shipping container weighing 16 tons. The greatest threat to the de-miners was from bounding fragmentation mines which typically had a lethal radius of several hundred meters. These vehicles provided a means to operate safely in areas affected by these mines. One of the major disadvantages of these machines is the destruction of surface vegetation that can lead to rapid erosion, if there is heavy rain in the weeks following mine clearance operations. Sudden heavy downpours are common in summer months. Therefore, they had to be used with considerable discretion and local knowledge.

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.

Intuitive control of a planar bipedal walking robot

Author  Jerry Pratt

Video ID : 529

The planar bipedal walking robot `Spring Flamingo' driven by series elastic actuators developed by Dr. Jerry Pratt and Prof. Gill Pratt.

Chapter 35 — Multisensor Data Fusion

Hugh Durrant-Whyte and Thomas C. Henderson

Multisensor data fusion is the process of combining observations from a number of different sensors to provide a robust and complete description of an environment or process of interest. Data fusion finds wide application in many areas of robotics such as object recognition, environment mapping, and localization.

This chapter has three parts: methods, architectures, and applications. Most current data fusion methods employ probabilistic descriptions of observations and processes and use Bayes’ rule to combine this information. This chapter surveys the main probabilistic modeling and fusion techniques including grid-based models, Kalman filtering, and sequential Monte Carlo techniques. This chapter also briefly reviews a number of nonprobabilistic data fusion methods. Data fusion systems are often complex combinations of sensor devices, processing, and fusion algorithms. This chapter provides an overview of key principles in data fusion architectures from both a hardware and algorithmic viewpoint. The applications of data fusion are pervasive in robotics and underly the core problem of sensing, estimation, and perception. We highlight two example applications that bring out these features. The first describes a navigation or self-tracking application for an autonomous vehicle. The second describes an application in mapping and environment modeling.

The essential algorithmic tools of data fusion are reasonably well established. However, the development and use of these tools in realistic robotics applications is still developing.

Multisensor remote surface inspection

Author  S. Hayati, H. Seraji, B. Balaram, R. Volpe, B. Ivlev, G. Tharp, T. Ohm, D. Lim

Video ID : 639

Jet Propulson Lab, Pasadena, applies telerobotic inspection techniques to space platforms.

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 1 — Robotics and the Handbook

Bruno Siciliano and Oussama Khatib

Robots! Robots on Mars and in oceans, in hospitals and homes, in factories and schools; robots fighting fires, making goods and products, saving time and lives. Robots today are making a considerable impact on many aspects of modern life, from industrial manufacturing to healthcare, transportation, and exploration of the deep space and sea. Tomorrow, robotswill be as pervasive and personal as today’s personal computers. This chapter retraces the evolution of this fascinating field from the ancient to themodern times through a number of milestones: from the first automated mechanical artifact (1400 BC) through the establishment of the robot concept in the 1920s, the realization of the first industrial robots in the 1960s, the definition of robotics science and the birth of an active research community in the 1980s, and the expansion towards the challenges of the human world of the twenty-first century. Robotics in its long journey has inspired this handbook which is organized in three layers: the foundations of robotics science; the consolidated methodologies and technologies of robot design, sensing and perception, manipulation and interfaces, mobile and distributed robotics; the advanced applications of field and service robotics, as well as of human-centered and life-like robotics.

Robots — A 50 year journey

Author  Oussama Khatib

Video ID : 805

In this collection of short segments, this video retraces the history of the most influential modern robots developed in the 20th century (1950-2000). The 50-year journey was first presented at the 2000 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in San Francisco.

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.

VSA-CubeBot - Peg in hole

Author  Centro di Ricerca "E. Piaggio"

Video ID : 460

VSA-CubeBot performing an assembly task. It consists in inserting a chamfered 29.5 mm diameter cylindrical peg in a 30 mm diameter round hole. The task is performed using only inexpensive position sensors, without force measurements, by exploiting the intrinsic mechanical elasticity of the variable impedance actuation units.

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.

A robot that exhibits its listening attitude with its motion

Author  Takayuki Kanda

Video ID : 810

This video demonstrates behavior of a robot developed to exhibit its listening attitude. Its behavior was modeled on humans' behavior, who were listening to directions. It was found that listening people often exhibit motions that are similar to speaking people. For instance, when a speaking person points in a direction, the listener also points in the same direction. Similar synchronized motions were found in eye-gaze and standing direction. The robot exhibited motions based on such human behaviors.

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.

Experience-based learning of high-level task representations: Demonstration (2)

Author  Monica Nicolescu

Video ID : 30

This is a video recorded in early 2000s, showing a Pioneer robot learning to slalom around a number of targets in a certain order - the human demonstration stage. The robot execution stage is also shown in a related video in this chapter. References: 1. M. Nicolescu, M.J. Mataric: Experience-based learning of task representations from human-robot interaction, Proc. IEEE Int. Symp. Comput. Intell. Robot. Autom. , Banff (2001), pp. 463-468; 2. M. Nicolescu, M.J. Mataric: Learning and interacting in human-robot domains, IEEE Trans. Syst. Man Cybernet. A31(5), 419-430 (2001)

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 used to examine interior of Fukushima powerplant

Author  James P. Trevelyan

Video ID : 579

Brief videos of robots in operation at the Fukushima plant, with English commentary from contemporary news sources.

Chapter 22 — Modular Robots

I-Ming Chen and Mark Yim

This chapter presents a discussion of modular robots from both an industrial and a research point of view. The chapter is divided into four sections, one focusing on existing reconfigurable modular manipulators typically in an industry setting (Sect. 22.2) and another focusing on self-reconfigurable modular robots typically in a research setting (Sect. 22.4). Both sections are sandwiched between the introduction and conclusion sections.

This chapter is focused on design issues. Rather than a survey of existing systems, it presents some of the existing systems in the context of a discussion of the issues and elements in industrial modular robotics and modular robotics research. The reader is encouraged to look at the references for further discussion on any of the presented topics.

M-Blocks: Momentum-driven, magnetic modular robots self-reconfiguring

Author  Daniela Rus

Video ID : 3

M-Blocks: momentum-driven, magnetic modular robots self-reconfiguring.