Open AccessArticle
Terrain Perception in a Shape Shifting Rolling-Crawling Robot
Robotics 2016, 5(4), 19; doi:10.3390/robotics5040019 -
Abstract
Terrain perception greatly enhances the performance of robots, providing them with essential information on the nature of terrain being traversed. Several living beings in nature offer interesting inspirations which adopt different gait patterns according to nature of terrain. In this paper, we [...] Read more.
Terrain perception greatly enhances the performance of robots, providing them with essential information on the nature of terrain being traversed. Several living beings in nature offer interesting inspirations which adopt different gait patterns according to nature of terrain. In this paper, we present a novel terrain perception system for our bioinspired robot, Scorpio, to classify the terrain based on visual features and autonomously choose appropriate locomotion mode. Our Scorpio robot is capable of crawling and rolling locomotion modes, mimicking Cebrenus Rechenburgi, a member of the huntsman spider family. Our terrain perception system uses Speeded Up Robust Feature (SURF) description method along with color information. Feature extraction is followed by Bag of Word method (BoW) and Support Vector Machine (SVM) for terrain classification. Experiments were conducted with our Scorpio robot to establish the efficacy and validity of the proposed approach. In our experiments, we achieved a recognition accuracy of over 90% across four terrain types namely grass, gravel, wooden deck, and concrete. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Bio-Inspired Vision-Based Leader-Follower Formation Flying in the Presence of Delays
Robotics 2016, 5(3), 18; doi:10.3390/robotics5030018 -
Abstract
Flocking starlings at dusk are known for the mesmerizing and intricate shapes they generate, as well as how fluid these shapes change. They seem to do this effortlessly. Real-life vision-based flocking has not been achieved in micro-UAVs (micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to [...] Read more.
Flocking starlings at dusk are known for the mesmerizing and intricate shapes they generate, as well as how fluid these shapes change. They seem to do this effortlessly. Real-life vision-based flocking has not been achieved in micro-UAVs (micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to date. Towards this goal, we make three contributions in this paper: (i) we used a computational approach to develop a bio-inspired architecture for vision-based Leader-Follower formation flying on two micro-UAVs. We believe that the minimal computational cost of the resulting algorithm makes it suitable for object detection and tracking during high-speed flocking; (ii) we show that provided delays in the control loop of a micro-UAV are below a critical value, Kalman filter-based estimation algorithms are not required to achieve Leader-Follower formation flying; (iii) unlike previous approaches, we do not use external observers, such as GPS signals or synchronized communication with flock members. These three contributions could be useful in achieving vision-based flocking in GPS-denied environments on computationally-limited agents. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Estimation of Physical Human-Robot Interaction Using Cost-Effective Pneumatic Padding
Robotics 2016, 5(3), 17; doi:10.3390/robotics5030017 -
Abstract
The idea to use a cost-effective pneumatic padding for sensing of physical interaction between a user and wearable rehabilitation robots is not new, but until now there has not been any practical relevant realization. In this paper, we present a novel method [...] Read more.
The idea to use a cost-effective pneumatic padding for sensing of physical interaction between a user and wearable rehabilitation robots is not new, but until now there has not been any practical relevant realization. In this paper, we present a novel method to estimate physical human-robot interaction using a pneumatic padding based on artificial neural networks (ANNs). This estimation can serve as rough indicator of applied forces/torques by the user and can be applied for visual feedback about the user’s participation or as additional information for interaction controllers. Unlike common mostly very expensive 6-axis force/torque sensors (FTS), the proposed sensor system can be easily integrated in the design of physical human-robot interfaces of rehabilitation robots and adapts itself to the shape of the individual patient’s extremity by pressure changing in pneumatic chambers, in order to provide a safe physical interaction with high user’s comfort. This paper describes a concept of using ANNs for estimation of interaction forces/torques based on pressure variations of eight customized air-pad chambers. The ANNs were trained one-time offline using signals of a high precision FTS which is also used as reference sensor for experimental validation. Experiments with three different subjects confirm the functionality of the concept and the estimation algorithm. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Room Volume Estimation Based on Ambiguity of Short-Term Interaural Phase Differences Using Humanoid Robot Head
Robotics 2016, 5(3), 16; doi:10.3390/robotics5030016 -
Abstract
Humans can recognize approximate room size using only binaural audition. However, sound reverberation is not negligible in most environments. The reverberation causes temporal fluctuations in the short-term interaural phase differences (IPDs) of sound pressure. This study proposes a novel method for a [...] Read more.
Humans can recognize approximate room size using only binaural audition. However, sound reverberation is not negligible in most environments. The reverberation causes temporal fluctuations in the short-term interaural phase differences (IPDs) of sound pressure. This study proposes a novel method for a binaural humanoid robot head to estimate room volume. The method is based on the statistical properties of the short-term IPDs of sound pressure. The humanoid robot turns its head toward a sound source, recognizes the sound source, and then estimates the ego-centric distance by its stereovision. By interpolating the relations between room volume, average standard deviation, and ego-centric distance experimentally obtained for various rooms in a prepared database, the room volume was estimated by the binaural audition of the robot from the average standard deviation of the short-term IPDs at the estimated distance. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Biomimetic Spider Leg Joints: A Review from Biomechanical Research to Compliant Robotic Actuators
Robotics 2016, 5(3), 15; doi:10.3390/robotics5030015 -
Abstract
Due to their inherent compliance, soft actuated joints are becoming increasingly important for robotic applications, especially when human-robot-interactions are expected. Several of these flexible actuators are inspired by biological models. One perfect showpiece for biomimetic robots is the spider leg, because it [...] Read more.
Due to their inherent compliance, soft actuated joints are becoming increasingly important for robotic applications, especially when human-robot-interactions are expected. Several of these flexible actuators are inspired by biological models. One perfect showpiece for biomimetic robots is the spider leg, because it combines lightweight design and graceful movements with powerful and dynamic actuation. Building on this motivation, the review article focuses on compliant robotic joints inspired by the function principle of the spider leg. The mechanism is introduced by an overview of existing biological and biomechanical research. Thereupon a classification of robots that are bio-inspired by spider joints is presented. Based on this, the biomimetic robot applications referring to the spider principle are identified and discussed. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Survey of Wall Climbing Robots: Recent Advances and Challenges
Robotics 2016, 5(3), 14; doi:10.3390/robotics5030014 -
Abstract
In recent decades, skyscrapers, as represented by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, have been built due to the improvements of construction technologies. Even in such newfangled skyscrapers, the façades are generally cleaned by humans. Wall climbing robots, [...] Read more.
In recent decades, skyscrapers, as represented by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, have been built due to the improvements of construction technologies. Even in such newfangled skyscrapers, the façades are generally cleaned by humans. Wall climbing robots, which are capable of climbing up vertical surfaces, ceilings and roofs, are expected to replace the manual workforce in façade cleaning works, which is both hazardous and laborious work. Such tasks require these robotic platforms to possess high levels of adaptability and flexibility. This paper presents a detailed review of wall climbing robots categorizing them into six distinct classes based on the adhesive mechanism that they use. This paper concludes by expanding beyond adhesive mechanisms by discussing a set of desirable design attributes of an ideal glass façade cleaning robot towards facilitating targeted future research with clear technical goals and well-defined design trade-off boundaries. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Trajectory Generation and Stability Analysis for Reconfigurable Klann Mechanism Based Walking Robot
Robotics 2016, 5(3), 13; doi:10.3390/robotics5030013 -
Abstract
Reconfigurable legged robots based on one degree of freedom are highly desired because they are effective on rough and irregular terrains and they provide mobility in such terrain with simple control schemes. It is necessary that reconfigurable legged robots should maintain stability [...] Read more.
Reconfigurable legged robots based on one degree of freedom are highly desired because they are effective on rough and irregular terrains and they provide mobility in such terrain with simple control schemes. It is necessary that reconfigurable legged robots should maintain stability during rest and motion, with a minimum number of legs while maintaining their full range of walking patterns resulting from different gait configuration. In this paper we present a method to generate input trajectory for reconfigurable quadruped robots based on Klann mechanism to properly synchronize movement. Six useful gait cycles based on this reconfigurable Klann mechanism for quadruped robots has been clearly shown here. The platform stability for these six useful gait cycles are validated through simulated results which clearly shows the capabilities of reconfigurable design. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
IDC Robocon: A Transnational Teaming Competition for Project-Based Design Education in Undergraduate Robotics
Robotics 2016, 5(3), 12; doi:10.3390/robotics5030012 -
Abstract
This paper presents a robot design competition called ‘IDC Robocon’ as an effective tool for engineering education. The International Design Contest (IDC) Robocon competition has several benefits in creating a meaningful design experience for undergraduate engineering students and includes an international flavour [...] Read more.
This paper presents a robot design competition called ‘IDC Robocon’ as an effective tool for engineering education. The International Design Contest (IDC) Robocon competition has several benefits in creating a meaningful design experience for undergraduate engineering students and includes an international flavour as participants of the competition hail from all around the world. The problem posed to the contestants is to design, build and test mobile robots that are capable of accomplishing a task. A primary goal of the competition is to provide undergraduates with a meaningful design experience with an emphasis on mechanical design, electronic circuits and programming. It is hoped that by placing the emphasis on the design, the course will encourage more undergraduates to go into the field of engineering design. This paper presents the latest 2015 IDC Robocon (the 26th edition) in detail and discusses course of events and results in terms of the educational experience. In this competition, a simulated space problem of cleaning the debris from orbit is proposed for the latest IDC Robocon competition. Teams, comprising of students from multiple countries work together to develop robotic systems to compete with each other in collecting the foam balls and delivering them to the rotating the holder. Full article
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Open AccessReview
State of the Art Robotic Grippers and Applications
Robotics 2016, 5(2), 11; doi:10.3390/robotics5020011 -
Abstract
In this paper, we present a recent survey on robotic grippers. In many cases, modern grippers outperform their older counterparts which are now stronger, more repeatable, and faster. Technological advancements have also attributed to the development of gripping various objects. This includes [...] Read more.
In this paper, we present a recent survey on robotic grippers. In many cases, modern grippers outperform their older counterparts which are now stronger, more repeatable, and faster. Technological advancements have also attributed to the development of gripping various objects. This includes soft fabrics, microelectromechanical systems, and synthetic sheets. In addition, newer materials are being used to improve functionality of grippers, which include piezoelectric, shape memory alloys, smart fluids, carbon fiber, and many more. This paper covers the very first robotic gripper to the newest developments in grasping methods. Unlike other survey papers, we focus on the applications of robotic grippers in industrial, medical, for fragile objects and soft fabrics grippers. We report on new advancements on grasping mechanisms and discuss their behavior for different purposes. Finally, we present the future trends of grippers in terms of flexibility and performance and their vital applications in emerging areas of robotic surgery, industrial assembly, space exploration, and micromanipulation. These advancements will provide a future outlook on the new trends in robotic grippers. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Pinching Strategy for Fabrics Using Wiping Deformation
Robotics 2016, 5(2), 10; doi:10.3390/robotics5020010 -
Abstract
This paper discusses a strategy by which a robotic hand can use the physical properties of a fabric to pinch the fabric. Pinching may be accomplished by using a wiping motion, during which the movement and deformation of a deformable object occur [...] Read more.
This paper discusses a strategy by which a robotic hand can use the physical properties of a fabric to pinch the fabric. Pinching may be accomplished by using a wiping motion, during which the movement and deformation of a deformable object occur simultaneously. The wiping motion differs from the displacement of a deformable object. During the wiping motion, there is contact, but no relative movement, between the manipulator and the object, whereas, during displacement, there is both contact and relative movement between the object and the floor. This paper first describes wiping motion and distinguishes wiping slide from wiping deformation by displacement of the internal points of an object. Wiping motion is also shown to be an extended scheme of pushing and sliding of rigid objects. Our strategy for pinching a fabric is accomplished with a combination of wiping deformation and residual deformation of the fabric under unloaded conditions. Using this strategy, a single-armed robotic hand can pinch both surfaces of the fabric without handover motion. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Vibration Measurement in High Precision for Flexible Structure Based on Microscopic Vision
Robotics 2016, 5(2), 9; doi:10.3390/robotics5020009 -
Abstract
Vibration measurement for flexible structures is widely used in various kinds of precision engineering fields. However, it is a challenge to measure vibration in special applications, such as cryogenic, dangerous and magnetic interference. In this paper, a high-precision vibration measurement system based [...] Read more.
Vibration measurement for flexible structures is widely used in various kinds of precision engineering fields. However, it is a challenge to measure vibration in special applications, such as cryogenic, dangerous and magnetic interference. In this paper, a high-precision vibration measurement system based on machine vision is designed. The circle center on the target is employed as the image feature. The circle feature is extracted using the improved algorithm based on gradient Hough transform. Then the image Jacobian matrix is used to compute the vibrations in Cartesian space from the image feature changes. Experiments verify the effectiveness of the proposed methods. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Extracting Semantic Information from Visual Data: A Survey
Robotics 2016, 5(1), 8; doi:10.3390/robotics5010008 -
Abstract
The traditional environment maps built by mobile robots include both metric ones and topological ones. These maps are navigation-oriented and not adequate for service robots to interact with or serve human users who normally rely on the conceptual knowledge or semantic contents [...] Read more.
The traditional environment maps built by mobile robots include both metric ones and topological ones. These maps are navigation-oriented and not adequate for service robots to interact with or serve human users who normally rely on the conceptual knowledge or semantic contents of the environment. Therefore, the construction of semantic maps becomes necessary for building an effective human-robot interface for service robots. This paper reviews recent research and development in the field of visual-based semantic mapping. The main focus is placed on how to extract semantic information from visual data in terms of feature extraction, object/place recognition and semantic representation methods. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Soft Pneumatic Bending Actuator with Integrated Carbon Nanotube Displacement Sensor
Robotics 2016, 5(1), 7; doi:10.3390/robotics5010007 -
Abstract
The excellent compliance and large range of motion of soft actuators controlled by fluid pressure has lead to strong interest in applying devices of this type for biomimetic and human-robot interaction applications. However, in contrast to soft actuators fabricated from stretchable silicone [...] Read more.
The excellent compliance and large range of motion of soft actuators controlled by fluid pressure has lead to strong interest in applying devices of this type for biomimetic and human-robot interaction applications. However, in contrast to soft actuators fabricated from stretchable silicone materials, conventional technologies for position sensing are typically rigid or bulky and are not ideal for integration into soft robotic devices. Therefore, in order to facilitate the use of soft pneumatic actuators in applications where position sensing or closed loop control is required, a soft pneumatic bending actuator with an integrated carbon nanotube position sensor has been developed. The integrated carbon nanotube position sensor presented in this work is flexible and well suited to measuring the large displacements frequently encountered in soft robotics. The sensor is produced by a simple soft lithography process during the fabrication of the soft pneumatic actuator, with a greater than 30% resistance change between the relaxed state and the maximum displacement position. It is anticipated that integrated resistive position sensors using a similar design will be useful in a wide range of soft robotic systems. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Application of the Naive Bayes Classifier for Representation and Use of Heterogeneous and Incomplete Knowledge in Social Robotics
Robotics 2016, 5(1), 6; doi:10.3390/robotics5010006 -
Abstract
As societies move towards integration of robots, it is important to study how robots can use their cognition in order to choose effectively their actions in a human environment, and possibly adapt to new contexts. When modelling these contextual data, it is [...] Read more.
As societies move towards integration of robots, it is important to study how robots can use their cognition in order to choose effectively their actions in a human environment, and possibly adapt to new contexts. When modelling these contextual data, it is common in social robotics to work with data extracted from human sciences such as sociology, anatomy, or anthropology. These heterogeneous data need to be efficiently used in order to make the robot adapt quickly its actions. In this paper we describe a methodology for the use of heterogeneous and incomplete knowledge, through an algorithm based on naive Bayes classifier. The model was successfully applied to two different experiments of human-robot interaction. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Design and Implementation of a Control System for a Sailboat Robot
Robotics 2016, 5(1), 5; doi:10.3390/robotics5010005 -
Abstract
This article discusses a control architecture for autonomous sailboat navigation and also presents a sailboat prototype built for experimental validation of the proposed architecture. The main goal is to allow long endurance autonomous missions, such as ocean monitoring. As the system propulsion [...] Read more.
This article discusses a control architecture for autonomous sailboat navigation and also presents a sailboat prototype built for experimental validation of the proposed architecture. The main goal is to allow long endurance autonomous missions, such as ocean monitoring. As the system propulsion relies on wind forces instead of motors, sailboat techniques are introduced and discussed, including the needed sensors, actuators and control laws. Mathematical modeling of the sailboat, as well as control strategies developed using PID and fuzzy controllers to control the sail and the rudder are also presented. Furthermore, we also present a study of the hardware architecture that enables the system overall performance to be increased. The sailboat movement can be planned through predetermined geographical way-points provided by a base station. Simulated and experimental results are presented to validate the control architecture, including tests performed on a lake. Underwater robotics can rely on such a platform by using it as a basis vessel, where autonomous charging of unmanned vehicles could be done or else as a relay surface base station for transmitting data. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Sensor Fusion and Autonomy as a Powerful Combination for Biological Assessment in the Marine Environment
Robotics 2016, 5(1), 4; doi:10.3390/robotics5010004 -
Abstract
The ocean environment and the physical and biological processes that govern dynamics are complex. Sampling the ocean to better understand these processes is difficult given the temporal and spatial domains and sampling tools available. Biological systems are especially difficult as organisms possess [...] Read more.
The ocean environment and the physical and biological processes that govern dynamics are complex. Sampling the ocean to better understand these processes is difficult given the temporal and spatial domains and sampling tools available. Biological systems are especially difficult as organisms possess behavior, operate at horizontal scales smaller than traditional shipboard sampling allows, and are often disturbed by the sampling platforms themselves. Sensors that measure biological processes have also generally not kept pace with the development of physical counterparts as their requirements are as complex as the target organisms. Here, we attempt to address this challenge by advocating the need for sensor-platform combinations to integrate and process data in real-time and develop data products that are useful in increasing sampling efficiencies. Too often, the data of interest is only garnered after post-processing after a sampling effort and the opportunity to use that information to guide sampling is lost. Here we demonstrate a new autonomous platform, where data are collected, analyzed, and data products are output in real-time to inform autonomous decision-making. This integrated capability allows for enhanced and informed sampling towards improving our understanding of the marine environment. Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Robotics in 2015
Robotics 2016, 5(1), 3; doi:10.3390/robotics5010003 -
Abstract The editors of Robotics would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2015. [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Coordination of Multiple Biomimetic Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Using Strategies Based on the Schooling Behaviour of Fish
Robotics 2016, 5(1), 2; doi:10.3390/robotics5010002 -
Abstract
Biomimetic Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (BAUVs) are Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) that employ similar propulsion and steering principles as real fish. While the real life applicability of these vehicles has yet to be fully investigated, laboratory investigations have demonstrated that at low speeds, [...] Read more.
Biomimetic Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (BAUVs) are Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) that employ similar propulsion and steering principles as real fish. While the real life applicability of these vehicles has yet to be fully investigated, laboratory investigations have demonstrated that at low speeds, the propulsive mechanism of these vehicles is more efficient when compared with propeller based AUVs. Furthermore, these vehicles have also demonstrated superior manoeuvrability characteristics when compared with conventional AUVs and Underwater Glider Systems (UGSs). Further performance benefits can be achieved through coordination of multiple BAUVs swimming in formation. In this study, the coordination strategy is based on the schooling behaviour of fish, which is a decentralized approach that allows multiple AUVs to be self-organizing. Such a strategy can be effectively utilized for large spatiotemporal data collection for oceanic monitoring and surveillance purposes. A validated mathematical model of the BAUV developed at the University of Glasgow, RoboSalmon, is used to represent the agents within a school formation. The performance of the coordination algorithm is assessed through simulation where system identification techniques are employed to improve simulation run time while ensuring accuracy is maintained. The simulation results demonstrate the effectiveness of implementing coordination algorithms based on the behavioural mechanisms of fish to allow a group of BAUVs to be considered self-organizing. Full article
Open AccessArticle
HBS-1: A Modular Child-Size 3D Printed Humanoid
Robotics 2016, 5(1), 1; doi:10.3390/robotics5010001 -
Abstract
An affordable, highly articulated, child-size humanoid robot could potentially be used for various purposes, widening the design space of humanoids for further study. Several findings indicated that normal children and children with autism interact well with humanoids. This paper presents a child-sized [...] Read more.
An affordable, highly articulated, child-size humanoid robot could potentially be used for various purposes, widening the design space of humanoids for further study. Several findings indicated that normal children and children with autism interact well with humanoids. This paper presents a child-sized humanoid robot (HBS-1) intended primarily for children’s education and rehabilitation. The design approach is based on the design for manufacturing (DFM) and the design for assembly (DFA) philosophies to realize the robot fully using additive manufacturing. Most parts of the robot are fabricated with acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) using rapid prototyping technology. Servomotors and shape memory alloy actuators are used as actuating mechanisms. The mechanical design, analysis and characterization of the robot are presented in both theoretical and experimental frameworks. Full article
Open AccessConference Report
Planning the Minimum Time and Optimal Survey Trajectory for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles in Uncertain Current
Robotics 2015, 4(4), 516-528; doi:10.3390/robotics4040516 -
Abstract
The authors develop an approach to a “best” time path for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles conducting oceanographic measurements under uncertain current flows. The numerical optimization tool DIDO is used to compute hybrid minimum time and optimal survey paths for a sample of currents [...] Read more.
The authors develop an approach to a “best” time path for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles conducting oceanographic measurements under uncertain current flows. The numerical optimization tool DIDO is used to compute hybrid minimum time and optimal survey paths for a sample of currents between ebb and flow. A simulated meta-experiment is performed where the vehicle traverses the resulting paths under different current strengths per run. The fastest elapsed time emerges from a payoff table. A multi-objective function is then used to weigh the time to complete a mission versus measurement inaccuracy due to deviation from the desired survey path. Full article