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Robotics, Volume 7, Issue 1 (March 2018)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Robotics in 2017
Robotics 2018, 7(1), 6; doi:10.3390/robotics7010006
Received: 11 January 2018 / Revised: 11 January 2018 / Accepted: 11 January 2018 / Published: 11 January 2018
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Abstract
Peer review is an essential part in the publication process, ensuring that Robotics maintains high quality standards for its published papers[...] Full article

Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Automation of Electrical Cable Harnesses Testing
Robotics 2018, 7(1), 1; doi:10.3390/robotics7010001
Received: 26 October 2017 / Revised: 13 December 2017 / Accepted: 19 December 2017 / Published: 21 December 2017
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Abstract
Traditional automated systems, such as industrial robots, are applied in well-structured environments, and many automated systems have a limited adaptability to deal with complexity and uncertainty; therefore, the applications of industrial robots in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are very limited. The majority
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Traditional automated systems, such as industrial robots, are applied in well-structured environments, and many automated systems have a limited adaptability to deal with complexity and uncertainty; therefore, the applications of industrial robots in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are very limited. The majority of manual operations in SMEs are too complicated for automation. The rapidly developed information technologies (IT) has brought new opportunities for the automation of manufacturing and assembly processes in the ill-structured environments. Note that an automation solution should be designed to meet the given requirements of the specified application, and it differs from one application to another. In this paper, we look into the feasibility of automated testing for electric cable harnesses, and our focus is on some of the generic strategies for the improvement of the adaptability of automation solutions. Especially, the concept of modularization is adopted in developing hardware and software to maximize system adaptability in testing a wide scope of products. A proposed system has been implemented, and the system performances have been evaluated by executing tests on actual products. The testing experiments have shown that the automated system outperformed manual operations greatly in terms of cost-saving, productivity and reliability. Due to the potential of increasing system adaptability and cost reduction, the presented work has its theoretical and practical significance for an extension for other automation solutions in SMEs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robust and Resilient Robots)
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Open AccessArticle An Improved Indoor Robot Human-Following Navigation Model Using Depth Camera, Active IR Marker and Proximity Sensors Fusion
Robotics 2018, 7(1), 4; doi:10.3390/robotics7010004
Received: 5 October 2017 / Revised: 2 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 January 2018 / Published: 6 January 2018
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Abstract
Creating a navigation system for autonomous companion robots has always been a difficult process, which must contend with a dynamically changing environment, which is populated by a myriad of obstructions and an unspecific number of people, other than the intended person, to follow.
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Creating a navigation system for autonomous companion robots has always been a difficult process, which must contend with a dynamically changing environment, which is populated by a myriad of obstructions and an unspecific number of people, other than the intended person, to follow. This study documents the implementation of an indoor autonomous robot navigation model, based on multi-sensor fusion, using Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4 (MRDS). The model relies on a depth camera, a limited array of proximity sensors and an active IR marker tracking system. This allows the robot to lock onto the correct target for human-following, while approximating the best starting direction to begin maneuvering around obstacles for minimum required motion. The system is implemented according to a navigation algorithm that transforms the data from all three types of sensors into tendency arrays and fuses them to determine whether to take a leftward or rightward route around an encountered obstacle. The decision process considers visible short, medium and long-range obstructions and the current position of the target person. The system is implemented using MRDS and its functional test performance is presented over a series of Virtual Simulation Environment scenarios, greenlighting further extensive benchmark simulations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Close Range Tracking of an Uncooperative Target in a Sequence of Photonic Mixer Device (PMD) Images
Robotics 2018, 7(1), 5; doi:10.3390/robotics7010005
Received: 22 November 2017 / Revised: 18 December 2017 / Accepted: 25 December 2017 / Published: 10 January 2018
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Abstract
This paper presents a pose estimation routine for tracking attitude and position of an uncooperative tumbling spacecraft during close range rendezvous. The key innovation is the usage of a Photonic Mixer Device (PMD) sensor for the first time during space proximity for tracking
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This paper presents a pose estimation routine for tracking attitude and position of an uncooperative tumbling spacecraft during close range rendezvous. The key innovation is the usage of a Photonic Mixer Device (PMD) sensor for the first time during space proximity for tracking the pose of the uncooperative target. This sensor requires lower power consumption and higher resolution if compared with existing flash Light Identification Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors. In addition, the PMD sensor provides two different measurements at the same time: depth information (point cloud) and amplitude of the reflected signal, which generates a grayscale image. In this paper, a hybrid model-based navigation technique that employs both measurements is proposed. The principal pose estimation technique is the iterative closed point algorithm with reverse calibration, which relies on the depth image. The second technique is an image processing pipeline that generates a set of 2D-to-3D feature correspondences between amplitude image and spacecraft model followed by the Efficient Perspective-n-Points (EPnP) algorithm for pose estimation. In this way, we gain a redundant estimation of the target’s current state in real-time without hardware redundancy. The proposed navigation methodology is tested in the German Aerospace Center (DLR)’s European Proximity Operations Simulator. The hybrid navigation technique shows the capability to ensure robust pose estimation of an uncooperative tumbling target under severe illumination conditions. In fact, the EPnP-based technique allows to overcome the limitations of the primary technique when harsh illumination conditions arise. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Bioenergy Based Power Sources for Mobile Autonomous Robots
Robotics 2018, 7(1), 2; doi:10.3390/robotics7010002
Received: 16 November 2017 / Revised: 21 December 2017 / Accepted: 27 December 2017 / Published: 1 January 2018
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Abstract
This paper presents the problem of application of modern developments in the field of bio-energy for the development of autonomous mobile robots’ power sources. We carried out analysis of biofuel cells, gasification and pyrolysis of biomass. Nowadays, very few technologies in the bioenergy
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This paper presents the problem of application of modern developments in the field of bio-energy for the development of autonomous mobile robots’ power sources. We carried out analysis of biofuel cells, gasification and pyrolysis of biomass. Nowadays, very few technologies in the bioenergy field are conducted with regards to the demands brought by robotics. At the same time, a number of technologies, such as biofuel cells, have now already come into use as a power supply for experimental autonomous mobile robots. The general directions for research that may help to increase the efficiency of power energy sources described in the article, in case of their use in robotics, are also presented. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessCommentary Technology Acceptance and User-Centred Design of Assistive Exoskeletons for Older Adults: A Commentary
Robotics 2018, 7(1), 3; doi:10.3390/robotics7010003
Received: 5 September 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 27 December 2017 / Published: 3 January 2018
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Abstract
Assistive robots are emerging as technologies that enable older adults to perform activities of daily living with autonomy. Exoskeletons are a subset of assistive robots that can support mobility. Perceptions and acceptance of these technologies require understanding in a user-centred design context to
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Assistive robots are emerging as technologies that enable older adults to perform activities of daily living with autonomy. Exoskeletons are a subset of assistive robots that can support mobility. Perceptions and acceptance of these technologies require understanding in a user-centred design context to ensure optimum experience and adoption by as broad a spectrum of older adults as possible. The adoption and use of assistive robots for activities of daily living (ADL) by older adults is poorly understood. Older adult acceptance of technology is affected by numerous factors, such as perceptions and stigma associated with dependency and ageing. Assistive technology (AT) models provide theoretical frameworks that inform decision-making in relation to assistive devices for people with disabilities. However, technology acceptance models (TAMs) are theoretical explanations of factors that influence why users adopt some technologies and not others. Recent models have emerged specifically describing technology acceptance by older adults. In the context of exoskeleton design, these models could influence design approaches. This article will discuss a selection of TAMs, displaying a chronology that highlights their evolution, and two prioritised TAMs—Almere and the senior technology acceptance model (STAM)—that merit consideration when attempting to understand acceptance and use of assistive robots by older adults. Full article
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