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Robotics, Volume 6, Issue 4 (December 2017)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle The Thorvald II Agricultural Robotic System
Robotics 2017, 6(4), 24; doi:10.3390/robotics6040024
Received: 1 September 2017 / Revised: 22 September 2017 / Accepted: 25 September 2017 / Published: 30 September 2017
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Abstract
This paper presents a novel and modular approach to agricultural robots. Food production is highly diverse in several aspects. Even farms that grow the same crops may differ in topology, infrastructure, production method, and so on. Modular robots help us adapt to this
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This paper presents a novel and modular approach to agricultural robots. Food production is highly diverse in several aspects. Even farms that grow the same crops may differ in topology, infrastructure, production method, and so on. Modular robots help us adapt to this diversity, as they can quickly be configured for various farm environments. The robots presented in this paper are hardware modular in the sense that they can be reconfigured to obtain the necessary physical properties to operate in different production systems—such as tunnels, greenhouses and open fields—and their mechanical properties can be adapted to adjust for track width, power requirements, ground clearance, load capacity, and so on. The robot’s software is generalizing to work with the great variation of robot designs that can be realized by assembling hardware modules in different configurations. The paper presents several novel ideas for agricultural robotics, as well as extensive field trials of several different versions of the Thorvald II platform. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agriculture Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle A Novel Docking System for Modular Self-Reconfigurable Robots
Robotics 2017, 6(4), 25; doi:10.3390/robotics6040025
Received: 2 September 2017 / Revised: 3 October 2017 / Accepted: 9 October 2017 / Published: 10 October 2017
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Abstract
Existing self-reconfigurable robots achieve connections and disconnections by a separate drive of the docking system. In this paper, we present a new docking system with which the connections and disconnections are driven by locomotion actuators, without the need for a separate drive, which
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Existing self-reconfigurable robots achieve connections and disconnections by a separate drive of the docking system. In this paper, we present a new docking system with which the connections and disconnections are driven by locomotion actuators, without the need for a separate drive, which reduces the weight and the complexity of the modules. This self-reconfigurable robot consists of two types of fundamental modules, i.e., active and passive modules. By the docking system, two types of connections are formed with the fundamental modules, and the docking and undocking actions are achieved through simple control with less sensory feedback. This paper describes the design of the robotic modules, the docking system, the docking process, and the docking force analysis. An experiment is performed to demonstrate the self-reconfigurable robot with the docking system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robust and Resilient Robots)
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Open AccessArticle Design of a Mobile Robot for Air Ducts Exploration
Robotics 2017, 6(4), 26; doi:10.3390/robotics6040026
Received: 3 July 2017 / Revised: 25 September 2017 / Accepted: 9 October 2017 / Published: 11 October 2017
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Abstract
This work presents the solutions adopted for the design and the implementation of an autonomous wheeled robot developed for the exploration and mapping of air ventilation ducts. The hardware is based on commercial off-the-shelf devices, including sensors, motors, processing devices and interfaces. The
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This work presents the solutions adopted for the design and the implementation of an autonomous wheeled robot developed for the exploration and mapping of air ventilation ducts. The hardware is based on commercial off-the-shelf devices, including sensors, motors, processing devices and interfaces. The mechanical chassis was designed from scratch to meet a trade-off between small size and available volume to host the components. The software stack is based on the Robot Operating System (ROS). Special attention was dedicated to the design of the mobility strategy, which must take into account some constraints and issues that are specific to the considered application, such as the relatively small size of ducts, the need to detect and avoid possible holes on the floor of the duct and other unusual obstacles and the unavailability of external reference frameworks for localization. The main contribution of this paper lies in the design, implementation and experimentation of the overall system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle HexaMob—A Hybrid Modular Robotic Design for Implementing Biomimetic Structures
Robotics 2017, 6(4), 27; doi:10.3390/robotics6040027
Received: 27 July 2017 / Revised: 11 October 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
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Abstract
Modular robots are capable of forming primitive shapes such as lattice and chain structures with the additional flexibility of distributed sensing. The biomimetic structures developed using such modular units provides ease of replacement and reconfiguration in co-ordinated structures, transportation etc. in real life
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Modular robots are capable of forming primitive shapes such as lattice and chain structures with the additional flexibility of distributed sensing. The biomimetic structures developed using such modular units provides ease of replacement and reconfiguration in co-ordinated structures, transportation etc. in real life scenarios. Though the research in the employment of modular robotic units in formation of biological organisms is in the nascent stage, modular robotic units are already capable of forming such sophisticated structures. The modular robotic designs proposed so far in modular robotics research vary significantly in external structures, sensor-actuator mechanisms interfaces for docking and undocking, techniques for providing mobility, coordinated structures, locomotions etc. and each robotic design attempted to address various challenges faced in the domain of modular robotics by employing different strategies. This paper presents a novel modular wheeled robotic design - HexaMob facilitating four degrees of freedom (2 degrees for mobility and 2 degrees for structural reconfiguration) on a single module with minimal usage of sensor-actuator assemblies. The crucial features of modular robotics such as back-driving restriction, docking, and navigation are addressed in the process of HexaMob design. The proposed docking mechanism is enabled using vision sensor, enhancing the capabilities in docking as well as navigation in co-ordinated structures such as humanoid robots. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Resilient Robots: Concept, Review, and Future Directions
Robotics 2017, 6(4), 22; doi:10.3390/robotics6040022
Received: 12 August 2017 / Revised: 17 September 2017 / Accepted: 18 September 2017 / Published: 25 September 2017
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Abstract
This paper reviews recent developments in the emerging field of resilient robots and the related robots that share common concerns with them, such as self-reconfigurable robots. This paper addresses the identity of the resilient robots by distinguishing the concept of resilience from other
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This paper reviews recent developments in the emerging field of resilient robots and the related robots that share common concerns with them, such as self-reconfigurable robots. This paper addresses the identity of the resilient robots by distinguishing the concept of resilience from other similar concepts and summarizes the strategies used by robots to recover their original function. By illustrating some issues of current resilient robots in the design of control systems, physical architecture modules, and physical connection systems, this paper shows several of the possible solutions to facilitate the development of the new and improved robots with higher resilience. The conclusion outlines several directions for the future of this field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robust and Resilient Robots)
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Open AccessReview On the Development of Learning Control for Robotic Manipulators
Robotics 2017, 6(4), 23; doi:10.3390/robotics6040023
Received: 19 July 2017 / Revised: 18 September 2017 / Accepted: 24 September 2017 / Published: 27 September 2017
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Abstract
Learning control for robotic manipulators has been developed over the past decade and to the best of the authors’ knowledge, it is still in its infant development stage; the authors believe that it will become one of the most promising directions in the
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Learning control for robotic manipulators has been developed over the past decade and to the best of the authors’ knowledge, it is still in its infant development stage; the authors believe that it will become one of the most promising directions in the control area in robotic manipulators. Learning control in robotic manipulators is mainly used to address the issue that the friction at the joints of robotic mechanisms and other uncertainties may exist in the dynamic models, which are very complex and may even be impossible to model mathematically. In this paper, the authors review and discuss the learning control in robotic manipulators and some issues in learning control for robotic manipulators are also illustrated. This review is able to give a general guideline for future research in learning control for robotic manipulators. Full article
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