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Robotics, Volume 3, Issue 1 (March 2014), Pages 1-105

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Robotics in 2013
Robotics 2014, 3(1), 68-69; doi:10.3390/robotics3010068
Received: 27 February 2014 / Accepted: 27 February 2014 / Published: 27 February 2014
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Abstract The editors of Robotics would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013. [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle Illumination Tolerance for Visual Navigation with the Holistic Min-Warping Method
Robotics 2014, 3(1), 22-67; doi:10.3390/robotics3010022
Received: 15 December 2013 / Revised: 24 January 2014 / Accepted: 27 January 2014 / Published: 13 February 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2487 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Holistic visual navigation methods are an emerging alternative to the ubiquitous feature-based methods. Holistic methods match entire images pixel-wise instead of extracting and comparing local feature descriptors. In this paper we investigate which pixel-wise distance measures are most suitable for the holistic [...] Read more.
Holistic visual navigation methods are an emerging alternative to the ubiquitous feature-based methods. Holistic methods match entire images pixel-wise instead of extracting and comparing local feature descriptors. In this paper we investigate which pixel-wise distance measures are most suitable for the holistic min-warping method with respect to illumination invariance. Two novel approaches are presented: tunable distance measures—weighted combinations of illumination-invariant and illumination-sensitive terms—and two novel forms of “sequential” correlation which are only invariant against intensity shifts but not against multiplicative changes. Navigation experiments on indoor image databases collected at the same locations but under different conditions of illumination demonstrate that tunable distance measures perform optimally by mixing their two portions instead of using the illumination-invariant term alone. Sequential correlation performs best among all tested methods, and as well but much faster in an approximated form. Mixing with an additional illumination-sensitive term is not necessary for sequential correlation. We show that min-warping with approximated sequential correlation can successfully be applied to visual navigation of cleaning robots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robot Vision)
Open AccessArticle A Miniature Robot for Retraction Tasks under Vision Assistance in Minimally Invasive Surgery
Robotics 2014, 3(1), 70-82; doi:10.3390/robotics3010070
Received: 23 December 2013 / Revised: 22 February 2014 / Accepted: 26 February 2014 / Published: 5 March 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (616 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) is one of the main aims of modern medicine. It enables surgery to be performed with a lower number and severity of incisions. Medical robots have been developed worldwide to offer a robotic alternative to traditional medical procedures. [...] Read more.
Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) is one of the main aims of modern medicine. It enables surgery to be performed with a lower number and severity of incisions. Medical robots have been developed worldwide to offer a robotic alternative to traditional medical procedures. New approaches aimed at a substantial decrease of visible scars have been explored, such as Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES). Simple surgical tasks such as the retraction of an organ can be a challenge when performed from narrow access ports. For this reason, there is a continuous need to develop new robotic tools for performing dedicated tasks. This article illustrates the design and testing of a new robotic tool for retraction tasks under vision assistance for NOTES. The retraction robots integrate brushless motors to enable additional degrees of freedom to that provided by magnetic anchoring, thus improving the dexterity of the overall platform. The retraction robot can be easily controlled to reach the target organ and apply a retraction force of up to 1.53 N. Additional degrees of freedom can be used for smooth manipulation and grasping of the organ. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Frontiers of Micro and Nanorobotic Systems)
Open AccessArticle Design Issues and in Field Tests of the New Sustainable Tractor LOCOSTRA
Robotics 2014, 3(1), 83-105; doi:10.3390/robotics3010083
Received: 10 October 2013 / Revised: 20 February 2014 / Accepted: 6 March 2014 / Published: 20 March 2014
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Abstract
This paper presents a robotized small tractor designed to perform humanitarian demining operations and agricultural operations when demining is accomplished. This dual use makes this system unique. The focus is on the design of the machine, including the modeling for design and [...] Read more.
This paper presents a robotized small tractor designed to perform humanitarian demining operations and agricultural operations when demining is accomplished. This dual use makes this system unique. The focus is on the design of the machine, including the modeling for design and control, the characteristics of the tools operated by the machine, the motion control at tele-operated, and semi-autonomous levels. The mechatronic design process applied uses sustainable design strategies. Technical contributions are in the tractor architecture, designed to make automation easier, and in the control functions implemented on this architecture. Extensive field tests were performed in different sites; first, in Italy, focusing on the agricultural application of the machine, in natural scenarios with different ground and vegetation; then, in two real mine fields in Jordan focusing on the performance for technical survey in humanitarian demining. The tests have confirmed the performance for both task categories (agricultural and demining), confirming the correctness of the statement. For the demining application, the machine has been assessed by professional users confirming the acceptance to field use and the novelty of the concept. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Robots)

Review

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Open AccessReview Robots in Health and Social Care: A Complementary Technology to Home Care and Telehealthcare?
Robotics 2014, 3(1), 1-21; doi:10.3390/robotics3010001
Received: 1 November 2013 / Revised: 17 December 2013 / Accepted: 18 December 2013 / Published: 30 December 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (489 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article offers a brief overview of most current and potential uses and applications of robotics in health/care and social care, whether commercially ready and available on the market or still at the various stages of research and prototyping. We provide carefully [...] Read more.
This article offers a brief overview of most current and potential uses and applications of robotics in health/care and social care, whether commercially ready and available on the market or still at the various stages of research and prototyping. We provide carefully hand-picked examples and pointers to on-going research for each set of identified robotics applications and then discuss the main ingredients for the success of these applications, as well as the main issues surrounding their adoption for everyday use, including sustainability in non-technical environments, patient/user safety and acceptance, ethical considerations such as patient/user privacy, and cost effectiveness. We examine how robotics could (partially) fill in some of the identified gaps in current telehealthcare and home care/self-care provisions. The article concludes with a brief glimpse at a couple of emerging developments and promising applications in the field (soft robots and robots for disaster response) that are expected to play important roles in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medical Robotics and Systems)

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