Open AccessArticle
Visual Tracking of Deformation and Classification of Non-Rigid Objects with Robot Hand Probing
Robotics 2017, 6(1), 5; doi:10.3390/robotics6010005 -
Abstract
Performing tasks with a robot hand often requires a complete knowledge of the manipulated object, including its properties (shape, rigidity, surface texture) and its location in the environment, in order to ensure safe and efficient manipulation. While well-established procedures exist for the manipulation
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Performing tasks with a robot hand often requires a complete knowledge of the manipulated object, including its properties (shape, rigidity, surface texture) and its location in the environment, in order to ensure safe and efficient manipulation. While well-established procedures exist for the manipulation of rigid objects, as well as several approaches for the manipulation of linear or planar deformable objects such as ropes or fabric, research addressing the characterization of deformable objects occupying a volume remains relatively limited. The paper proposes an approach for tracking the deformation of non-rigid objects under robot hand manipulation using RGB-D data. The purpose is to automatically classify deformable objects as rigid, elastic, plastic, or elasto-plastic, based on the material they are made of, and to support recognition of the category of such objects through a robotic probing process in order to enhance manipulation capabilities. The proposed approach combines advantageously classical color and depth image processing techniques and proposes a novel combination of the fast level set method with a log-polar mapping of the visual data to robustly detect and track the contour of a deformable object in a RGB-D data stream. Dynamic time warping is employed to characterize the object properties independently from the varying length of the tracked contour as the object deforms. The proposed solution achieves a classification rate over all categories of material of up to 98.3%. When integrated in the control loop of a robot hand, it can contribute to ensure stable grasp, and safe manipulation capability that will preserve the physical integrity of the object. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Robot-Assisted Therapy for Learning and Social Interaction of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Robotics 2017, 6(1), 4; doi:10.3390/robotics6010004 -
Abstract
This paper puts forward the potential for designing a parrot-inspired robot and an indirect teaching technique, the adapted model-rival method (AMRM), to help improve learning and social interaction abilities of children with autism spectrum disorder. The AMRM was formulated by adapting two popular
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This paper puts forward the potential for designing a parrot-inspired robot and an indirect teaching technique, the adapted model-rival method (AMRM), to help improve learning and social interaction abilities of children with autism spectrum disorder. The AMRM was formulated by adapting two popular conventional approaches, namely, model-rival method and label-training procedure. In our validation trials, we used a semi-autonomous parrot-inspired robot, called KiliRo, to simulate a set of autonomous behaviors. A proposed robot-assisted therapy using AMRM was pilot tested with nine children with autism spectrum disorder for five consecutive days in a clinical setting. We analyzed the facial expressions of children when they interacted with KiliRo using an automated emotion recognition and classification system, Oxford emotion API (Application Programming Interface). Results provided some indication that the children with autism spectrum disorder appeared attracted and happy to interact with the parrot-inspired robot. Short qualitative interviews with the children’s parents, the pediatrician, and the child psychologist who participated in this pilot study, also acknowledged that the proposed parrot-inspired robot and the AMRM may have some merit in aiding in improving learning and social interaction abilities of children with autism spectrum disorder. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Synthetic Aperture Computation as the Head is Turned in Binaural Direction Finding
Robotics 2017, 6(1), 3; doi:10.3390/robotics6010003 -
Abstract
Binaural systems measure instantaneous time/level differences between acoustic signals received at the ears to determine angles λ between the auditory axis and directions to acoustic sources. An angle λ locates a source on a small circle of colatitude (a lamda circle) on a
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Binaural systems measure instantaneous time/level differences between acoustic signals received at the ears to determine angles λ between the auditory axis and directions to acoustic sources. An angle λ locates a source on a small circle of colatitude (a lamda circle) on a sphere symmetric about the auditory axis. As the head is turned while listening to a sound, acoustic energy over successive instantaneous lamda circles is integrated in a virtual/subconscious field of audition. The directions in azimuth and elevation to maxima in integrated acoustic energy, or to points of intersection of lamda circles, are the directions to acoustic sources. This process in a robotic system, or in nature in a neural implementation equivalent to it, delivers its solutions to the aurally informed worldview. The process is analogous to migration applied to seismic profiler data, and to that in synthetic aperture radar/sonar systems. A slanting auditory axis, e.g., possessed by species of owl, leads to the auditory axis sweeping the surface of a cone as the head is turned about a single axis. Thus, the plane in which the auditory axis turns continuously changes, enabling robustly unambiguous directions to acoustic sources to be determined. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Experimental and Simulation-Based Investigation of Polycentric Motion of an Inherent Compliant Pneumatic Bending Actuator with Skewed Rotary Elastic Chambers
Robotics 2017, 6(1), 2; doi:10.3390/robotics6010002 -
Abstract
To offer a functionality that could not be found in traditional rigid robots, compliant actuators are in development worldwide for a variety of applications and especially for human–robot interaction. Pneumatic bending actuators are a special kind of such actuators. Due to the absence
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To offer a functionality that could not be found in traditional rigid robots, compliant actuators are in development worldwide for a variety of applications and especially for human–robot interaction. Pneumatic bending actuators are a special kind of such actuators. Due to the absence of fixed mechanical axes and their soft behavior, these actuators generally possess a polycentric motion ability. This can be very useful to provide an implicit self-alignment to human joint axes in exoskeleton-like rehabilitation devices. As a possible realization, a novel bending actuator (BA) was developed using patented pneumatic skewed rotary elastic chambers (sREC). To analyze the actuator self-alignment properties, knowledge about the motion of this bending actuator type, the so-called skewed rotary elastic chambers bending actuator (sRECBA), is of high interest and this paper presents experimental and simulation-based kinematic investigations. First, to describe actuator motion, the finite helical axes (FHA) of basic actuator elements are determined using a three-dimensional (3D) camera system. Afterwards, a simplified two-dimensional (2D) kinematic simulation model based on a four-bar linkage was developed and the motion was compared to the experimental data by calculating the instantaneous center of rotation (ICR). The equivalent kinematic model of the sRECBA was realized using a series of four-bar linkages and the resulting ICR was analyzed in simulation. Finally, the FHA of the sRECBA were determined and analyzed for three different specific motions. The results show that the actuator’s FHA adapt to different motions performed and it can be assumed that implicit self-alignment to the polycentric motion of the human joint axis will be provided. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Robotics in 2016
Robotics 2017, 6(1), 1; doi:10.3390/robotics6010001 -
Abstract The editors of Robotics would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2016.[...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Complete Coverage Path Planning for a Multi-UAV Response System in Post-Earthquake Assessment
Robotics 2016, 5(4), 26; doi:10.3390/robotics5040026 -
Abstract
This paper presents a post-earthquake response system for a rapid damage assessment. In this system, multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are deployed to collect the images from the earthquake site and create a response map for extracting useful information. It is an extension
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This paper presents a post-earthquake response system for a rapid damage assessment. In this system, multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are deployed to collect the images from the earthquake site and create a response map for extracting useful information. It is an extension of well-known coverage path problem (CPP) that is based on the grid pattern map decomposition. In addition to some linear strengthening techniques, two mathematic formulations, 4-index and 5-index models, are proposed in the approach and coded in GAMS (Cplex solver). They are tested on a number of problems and the results show that the 5-index model outperforms the 4-index model. Moreover, the proposed system could be significantly improved by the solver-generated cuts, additional constraints, and the variable branching priority extensions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Improving Robot Mobility by Combining Downward-Looking and Frontal Cameras
Robotics 2016, 5(4), 25; doi:10.3390/robotics5040025 -
Abstract
This paper presents a novel attempt to combine a downward-looking camera and a forward-looking camera for terrain classification in the field of off-road mobile robots. The first camera is employed to identify the terrain beneath the robot. This information is then used to
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This paper presents a novel attempt to combine a downward-looking camera and a forward-looking camera for terrain classification in the field of off-road mobile robots. The first camera is employed to identify the terrain beneath the robot. This information is then used to improve the classification of the forthcoming terrain acquired from the frontal camera. This research also shows the usefulness of the Gist descriptor for terrain classification purposes. Physical experiments conducted in different terrains (quasi-planar terrains) and different lighting conditions, confirm the satisfactory performance of this approach in comparison with a simple color-based classifier based only on frontal images. Our proposal substantially reduces the misclassification rate of the color-based classifier (∼10% versus ∼20%). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Matlab-Based Testbed for Integration, Evaluation and Comparison of Heterogeneous Stereo Vision Matching Algorithms
Robotics 2016, 5(4), 24; doi:10.3390/robotics5040024 -
Abstract
Stereo matching is a heavily researched area with a prolific published literature and a broad spectrum of heterogeneous algorithms available in diverse programming languages. This paper presents a Matlab-based testbed that aims to centralize and standardize this variety of both current and prospective
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Stereo matching is a heavily researched area with a prolific published literature and a broad spectrum of heterogeneous algorithms available in diverse programming languages. This paper presents a Matlab-based testbed that aims to centralize and standardize this variety of both current and prospective stereo matching approaches. The proposed testbed aims to facilitate the application of stereo-based methods to real situations. It allows for configuring and executing algorithms, as well as comparing results, in a fast, easy and friendly setting. Algorithms can be combined so that a series of processes can be chained and executed consecutively, using the output of a process as input for the next; some additional filtering and image processing techniques have been included within the testbed for this purpose. A use case is included to illustrate how these processes are sequenced and its effect on the results for real applications. The testbed has been conceived as a collaborative and incremental open-source project, where its code is accessible and modifiable, with the objective of receiving contributions and releasing future versions to include new algorithms and features. It is currently available online for the research community. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Auto-Calibration Methods of Kinematic Parameters and Magnetometer Offset for the Localization of a Tracked Mobile Robot
Robotics 2016, 5(4), 23; doi:10.3390/robotics5040023 -
Abstract
This paper describes an automatic calibration procedure adopted to improve the localization of an outdoor mobile robot. The proposed algorithm estimates, by using an extended Kalman filter, the main kinematic parameters of the vehicles, such as the wheel radii and the wheelbase as
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This paper describes an automatic calibration procedure adopted to improve the localization of an outdoor mobile robot. The proposed algorithm estimates, by using an extended Kalman filter, the main kinematic parameters of the vehicles, such as the wheel radii and the wheelbase as well as the magnetometer offset. Several trials have been performed to validate the proposed strategy on a tracked electrical mobile robot. The mobile robot is aimed to be adopted as a tool to help humanitarian demining operations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Deployment Environment for a Swarm of Heterogeneous Robots
Robotics 2016, 5(4), 22; doi:10.3390/robotics5040022 -
Abstract
The objective of this work is to develop a framework that can deploy and provide coordination between multiple heterogeneous agents when a swarm robotic system adopts a decentralized approach; each robot evaluates its relative rank among the other robots in terms of travel
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The objective of this work is to develop a framework that can deploy and provide coordination between multiple heterogeneous agents when a swarm robotic system adopts a decentralized approach; each robot evaluates its relative rank among the other robots in terms of travel distance and cost to the goal. Accordingly, robots are allocated to the sub-tasks for which they have the highest rank (utility). This paper provides an analysis of existing swarm control environments and proposes a software environment that facilitates a rapid deployment of multiple robotic agents. The framework (UBSwarm) exploits our utility-based task allocation algorithm. UBSwarm configures these robots and assigns the group of robots a particular task from a set of available tasks. Two major tasks have been introduced that show the performance of a robotic group. This robotic group is composed of heterogeneous agents. In the results, a premature example that has prior knowledge about the experiment shows whether or not the robots are able to accomplish the task. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Towards an Explanation Generation System for Robots: Analysis and Recommendations
Robotics 2016, 5(4), 21; doi:10.3390/robotics5040021 -
Abstract
A fundamental challenge in robotics is to reason with incomplete domain knowledge to explain unexpected observations and partial descriptions extracted from sensor observations. Existing explanation generation systems draw on ideas that can be mapped to a multidimensional space of system characteristics, defined by
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A fundamental challenge in robotics is to reason with incomplete domain knowledge to explain unexpected observations and partial descriptions extracted from sensor observations. Existing explanation generation systems draw on ideas that can be mapped to a multidimensional space of system characteristics, defined by distinctions, such as how they represent knowledge and if and how they reason with heuristic guidance. Instances in this multidimensional space corresponding to existing systems do not support all of the desired explanation generation capabilities for robots. We seek to address this limitation by thoroughly understanding the range of explanation generation capabilities and the interplay between the distinctions that characterize them. Towards this objective, this paper first specifies three fundamental distinctions that can be used to characterize many existing explanation generation systems. We explore and understand the effects of these distinctions by comparing the capabilities of two systems that differ substantially along these axes, using execution scenarios involving a robot waiter assisting in seating people and delivering orders in a restaurant. The second part of the paper uses this study to argue that the desired explanation generation capabilities corresponding to these three distinctions can mostly be achieved by exploiting the complementary strengths of the two systems that were explored. This is followed by a discussion of the capabilities related to other major distinctions to provide detailed recommendations for developing an explanation generation system for robots. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Towards Bio-Inspired Chromatic Behaviours in Surveillance Robots
Robotics 2016, 5(4), 20; doi:10.3390/robotics5040020 -
Abstract
The field of Robotics is ever growing at the same time as posing enormous challenges. Numerous works has been done in biologically inspired robotics emulating models, systems and elements of nature for the purpose of solving traditional robotics problems. Chromatic behaviours are abundant
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The field of Robotics is ever growing at the same time as posing enormous challenges. Numerous works has been done in biologically inspired robotics emulating models, systems and elements of nature for the purpose of solving traditional robotics problems. Chromatic behaviours are abundant in nature across a variety of living species to achieve camouflage, signaling, and temperature regulation. The ability of these creatures to successfully blend in with their environment and communicate by changing their colour is the fundamental inspiration for our research work. In this paper, we present dwarf chameleon inspired chromatic behaviour in the context of an autonomous surveillance robot, “PACHONDHI”. In our experiments, we successfully validated the ability of the robot to autonomously change its colour in relation to the terrain that it is traversing for maximizing detectability to friendly security agents and minimizing exposure to hostile agents, as well as to communicate with fellow cooperating robots. Full article
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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 present
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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 date.
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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 to
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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 binaural
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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 combines
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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, which
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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 during
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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 as
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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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