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Robotics, Volume 11, Issue 1 (February 2022) – 29 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Bio-inspired solutions are currently investigated as a source of maneuvering improvement for autonomous underwater vehicles. To address this ambitious objective, the authors designed a novel transmission system capable of transforming the constant angular velocity of a single rotary motor into the pitching–yawing motion of fish pectoral fins. Here, the biomimetic thrusters exploit the drag-based momentum transfer mechanism of labriform swimmers to generate a steering torque. Aside from inertia and encumbrance reduction, the main improvement is the inherent synchronization of the system granted by the mechanism kinematics. The proposed solution was sized using the experimental results collected by biologists and then integrated in a multiphysics simulation environment to predict the resulting impressive maneuvering performance. View this paper
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Article
Evaluation Criteria for Trajectories of Robotic Arms
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010029 - 15 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1019
Abstract
This paper presents a complex trajectory evaluation framework with a high potential for use in many industrial applications. The framework focuses on the evaluation of robotic arm trajectories containing only robot states defined in joint space without any time parametrization (velocities or accelerations). [...] Read more.
This paper presents a complex trajectory evaluation framework with a high potential for use in many industrial applications. The framework focuses on the evaluation of robotic arm trajectories containing only robot states defined in joint space without any time parametrization (velocities or accelerations). The solution presented in this article consists of multiple criteria, mainly based on well-known trajectory metrics. These were slightly modified to allow their application to this type of trajectory. Our framework provides the methodology on how to accurately compare paths generated by randomized-based path planners, with respect to the numerous industrial optimization criteria. Therefore, the selection of the optimal path planner or its configuration for specific applications is much easier. The designed criteria were thoroughly experimentally evaluated using a real industrial robot. The results of these experiments confirmed the correlation between the predicted robot behavior and the behavior of the robot during the trajectory execution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Industrial Robotics and Intelligent Systems)
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Article
Identifying Personality Dimensions for Engineering Robot Personalities in Significant Quantities with Small User Groups
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010028 - 14 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 772
Abstract
Future service robots mass-produced for practical applications may benefit from having personalities. To engineer robot personalities in significant quantities for practical applications, we need first to identify the personality dimensions on which personality traits can be effectively optimised by minimising the distances between [...] Read more.
Future service robots mass-produced for practical applications may benefit from having personalities. To engineer robot personalities in significant quantities for practical applications, we need first to identify the personality dimensions on which personality traits can be effectively optimised by minimising the distances between engineering targets and the corresponding robots under construction, since not all personality dimensions are applicable and equally prominent. Whether optimisation is possible on a personality dimension depends on how specific users consider the personalities of a type of robot, especially whether they can provide effective feedback to guide the optimisation of certain traits on a personality dimension. The dimensions may vary from user group to user group since not all people consider a type of trait to be relevant to a type of robot, which our results corroborate. Therefore, we had proposed a test procedure as an engineering tool to identify, with the help of a user group, personality dimensions for engineering robot personalities out of a type of robot knowing its typical usage. It applies to robots that can imitate human behaviour and small user groups with at least eight people. We confirmed its effectiveness in limited-scope tests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotics: 10th Anniversary Feature Papers)
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Article
Modeling and Analysis of a High-Speed Adjustable Grasping Robot Controlled by a Pneumatic Actuator
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010027 - 12 Feb 2022
Viewed by 768
Abstract
This paper discusses the modeling and analysis of a high-speed adjustable grasping robot controlled by a pneumatic actuator. The robot is composed of two grippers, two wires for connecting a pneumatic cylinder and an arm with gripper joints with a spring as well [...] Read more.
This paper discusses the modeling and analysis of a high-speed adjustable grasping robot controlled by a pneumatic actuator. The robot is composed of two grippers, two wires for connecting a pneumatic cylinder and an arm with gripper joints with a spring as well as two stoppers for controlling the gripper stopping point with a brake. By supplying pressurized air into the pneumatic cylinder, the two grippers move forward together with the arm and capture the object by adjusting the air pressure in the cylinder. After capturing the target object, the system can release the object by changing the pressure air in the air cylinder using another port. By considering the state equation of the air, we obtain a dynamic model of the robot, including the actuator. Through numerical simulation, we show that the simulation results can explain the experimental results from the developed robot system. Through our experiments, we confirm that the developed high-speed grasping robot can grasp continuously moving objects with a gap of ±15 mm at 300 mm/s. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sensors and Control in Robotics)
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Article
Six-Bar Linkage Models of a Recumbent Tricycle Mechanism to Increase Power Throughput in FES Cycling
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010026 - 11 Feb 2022
Viewed by 760
Abstract
This paper presents the kinematic and static analysis of two mechanisms to improve power throughput for persons with tetra- or paraplegia pedaling a performance tricycle via FES. FES, or functional electrical stimulation, activates muscles by passing small electrical currents through the muscle creating [...] Read more.
This paper presents the kinematic and static analysis of two mechanisms to improve power throughput for persons with tetra- or paraplegia pedaling a performance tricycle via FES. FES, or functional electrical stimulation, activates muscles by passing small electrical currents through the muscle creating a contraction. The use of FES can build muscle in patients, relieve soreness, and promote cardiovascular health. Compared to an able-bodied rider, a cyclist stimulated via FES produces an order of magnitude less power creating some notable pedaling difficulties especially pertaining to inactive zones. An inactive zone occurs when the leg position is unable to produce enough power to propel the tricycle via muscle stimulation. An inactive zone is typically present when one leg is fully bent and the other leg is fully extended. Altering the motion of a cyclist’s legs relative to the crank position can potentially reduce inactive zones and increase power throughput. Some recently marketed bicycles showcase pedal mechanisms utilizing alternate leg motions. This work considers performance tricycle designs based on the Stephenson III and Watt II six-bar mechanisms where the legs define two of the system’s links. The architecture based on the Stephenson III is referred to throughout as the CDT due to the legs’ push acting to coupler-drive the four-bar component of the system. The architecture based on the Watt II is referred to throughout as the CRT due to the legs’ push acting to drive the rocker link of the four-bar component of the system. The unmodified or traditional recumbent tricycle (TRT) provides a benchmarks by which the designs proposed herein may be evaluated. Using knee and hip torques and angular velocities consistent with a previous study, this numerical study using a quasi-static power model of the CRT suggests a roughly 50% increase and the CDT suggests roughly a doubling in average crank power, respectively, for a typical FES cyclist. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kinematics and Robot Design IV, KaRD2021)
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Article
Implementation of a Flexible and Lightweight Depth-Based Visual Servoing Solution for Feature Detection and Tracing of Large, Spatially-Varying Manufacturing Workpieces
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010025 - 11 Feb 2022
Viewed by 892
Abstract
This work proposes a novel solution for detecting and tracing spatially varying edges of large manufacturing workpieces, using a consumer grade RGB depth camera, with only a partial view of the workpiece and without prior knowledge. The proposed system can visually detect and [...] Read more.
This work proposes a novel solution for detecting and tracing spatially varying edges of large manufacturing workpieces, using a consumer grade RGB depth camera, with only a partial view of the workpiece and without prior knowledge. The proposed system can visually detect and trace various edges, with a wide array of degrees, to an accuracy of 15 mm or less, without the need for any previous information, setup or planning. A combination of physical experiments on the setup and more complex simulated experiments were conducted. The effectiveness of the system is demonstrated via simulated and physical experiments carried out on both acute and obtuse edges, as well as typical aerospace structures, made from a variety of materials, with dimensions ranging from 400 mm to 600 mm. Simulated results show that, with artificial noise added, the solution presented can detect aerospace structures to an accuracy of 40 mm or less, depending on the amount of noise present, while physical aerospace inspired structures can be traced with a consistent accuracy of 5 mm regardless of the cardinal direction. Compared to current industrial solutions, the lack of required planning and robustness of edge detection means it should be able to complete tasks more quickly and easily than the current standard, with a lower financial and computational cost than the current techniques being used within. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Industrial Robotics in Industry 4.0)
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Review
A Comprehensive Survey of Visual SLAM Algorithms
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010024 - 10 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2255
Abstract
Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) techniques are widely researched, since they allow the simultaneous creation of a map and the sensors’ pose estimation in an unknown environment. Visual-based SLAM techniques play a significant role in this field, as they are based on a [...] Read more.
Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) techniques are widely researched, since they allow the simultaneous creation of a map and the sensors’ pose estimation in an unknown environment. Visual-based SLAM techniques play a significant role in this field, as they are based on a low-cost and small sensor system, which guarantees those advantages compared to other sensor-based SLAM techniques. The literature presents different approaches and methods to implement visual-based SLAM systems. Among this variety of publications, a beginner in this domain may find problems with identifying and analyzing the main algorithms and selecting the most appropriate one according to his or her project constraints. Therefore, we present the three main visual-based SLAM approaches (visual-only, visual-inertial, and RGB-D SLAM), providing a review of the main algorithms of each approach through diagrams and flowcharts, and highlighting the main advantages and disadvantages of each technique. Furthermore, we propose six criteria that ease the SLAM algorithm’s analysis and consider both the software and hardware levels. In addition, we present some major issues and future directions on visual-SLAM field, and provide a general overview of some of the existing benchmark datasets. This work aims to be the first step for those initiating a SLAM project to have a good perspective of SLAM techniques’ main elements and characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Motion Planning and Control for Robotics)
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Article
A New Hyperloop Transportation System: Design and Practical Integration
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010023 - 08 Feb 2022
Viewed by 868
Abstract
This paper introduces a new Hyperloop transportation system’s design and implementation. The main contribution of this paper is the design and integration of propulsion components for a linear motion system, with battery storage. The proposed Hyperloop design provides a high-speed transportation means for [...] Read more.
This paper introduces a new Hyperloop transportation system’s design and implementation. The main contribution of this paper is the design and integration of propulsion components for a linear motion system, with battery storage. The proposed Hyperloop design provides a high-speed transportation means for passengers and freights by utilizing linear synchronous motors. In this study, a three-phase inverter was designed and simulated using PSIM. A prototype of this design was built and integrated with a linear synchronous motor. The operation of full system integration satisfies a proof-of-concept design. A study of the inverter system in conjunction with a linear synchronous motor for a ridged Hyperloop system is made. The prototype of this system achieves propulsion for the bidirectional movements. Battery state of charge simulation results are given in a typical motoring and braking scenario. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Industrial Robotics and Intelligent Systems)
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Article
Herbicide Ballistic Technology for Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010022 - 03 Feb 2022
Viewed by 764
Abstract
Miconia is a highly invasive plant species with incipient plants occupying remote areas of Hawaiian watersheds. Management of these incipient plants is integral to current containment strategies. Herbicide Ballistic Technology (HBT) has been used for 8 years from helicopters as a precision approach [...] Read more.
Miconia is a highly invasive plant species with incipient plants occupying remote areas of Hawaiian watersheds. Management of these incipient plants is integral to current containment strategies. Herbicide Ballistic Technology (HBT) has been used for 8 years from helicopters as a precision approach to target individual plants. We have developed a prototype HBT applicator integrated onto an unmanned aircraft system, HBT-UAS, which offers the same precision approach with a semi-automated flight plan. Inclusion of the HBT payload resulted in statistically significant deviations from programmed flight plans compared to the unencumbered UAS, but the effect size was lower than that observed for different stages of flight. The additional payload of the HBT-UAS resulted in a large reduction in available flight time resulting a limited range of 22 m. The projectile spread of the HBT-UAS, within a 2–10 m range, had a maximum CEP of 1.87–5.58 cm. The most substantial limitation of the current prototype HBT-UAS is the available flight time. The use of larger capacity UAS and potential for beyond visual line of sight operations would result in a substantial improvement in the serviceable area and utility of the HBT-UAS for containment of invasive plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Agricultural and Field Robotics)
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Editorial
Acknowledgment to Reviewers of Robotics in 2021
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010021 - 29 Jan 2022
Viewed by 712
Abstract
Rigorous peer-reviews are the basis of high-quality academic publishing [...] Full article
Article
Model-Based Mid-Level Regulation for Assist-As-Needed Hierarchical Control of Wearable Robots: A Computational Study of Human-Robot Adaptation
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010020 - 29 Jan 2022
Viewed by 837
Abstract
The closed-loop human–robot system requires developing an effective robotic controller that considers models of both the human and the robot, as well as human adaptation to the robot. This paper develops a mid-level controller providing assist-as-needed (AAN) policies in a hierarchical control setting [...] Read more.
The closed-loop human–robot system requires developing an effective robotic controller that considers models of both the human and the robot, as well as human adaptation to the robot. This paper develops a mid-level controller providing assist-as-needed (AAN) policies in a hierarchical control setting using two novel methods: model-based and fuzzy logic rule. The goal of AAN is to provide the required extra torque because of the robot’s dynamics and external load compared to the human limb free movement. The human–robot adaptation is simulated using a nonlinear model predictive controller (NMPC) as the human central nervous system (CNS) for three conditions of initial (the initial session of wearing the robot, without any previous experience), short-term (the entire first session, e.g., 45 min), and long-term experiences. The results showed that the two methods (model-based and fuzzy logic) outperform the traditional proportional method in providing AAN by considering distinctive human and robot models. Additionally, the CNS actuator model has difficulty in the initial experience and activates both antagonist and agonist muscles to reduce movement oscillations. In the long-term experience, the simulation shows no oscillation when the CNS NMPC learns the robot model and modifies its weights to simulate realistic human behavior. We found that the desired strength of the robot should be increased gradually to ignore unexpected human–robot interactions (e.g., robot vibration, human spasticity). The proposed mid-level controllers can be used for wearable assistive devices, exoskeletons, and rehabilitation robots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Medical Robotics and Service Robotics)
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Article
Investigation of the Mounting Position of a Wearable Robot Arm
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010019 - 29 Jan 2022
Viewed by 743
Abstract
In a wearable robot arm, the minimum joint configuration and link length must be considered to avoid increasing the burden on the user. This work investigated how the joint configuration, length of arm links, and mounting position of a wearable robot arm affect [...] Read more.
In a wearable robot arm, the minimum joint configuration and link length must be considered to avoid increasing the burden on the user. This work investigated how the joint configuration, length of arm links, and mounting position of a wearable robot arm affect the cooperative and invasive workspaces of the overall workspace. We considered the joint configurations and link lengths of passive and active joints in our proposed wearable robot arm, which is called the Assist Oriented Arm (AOA). In addition, we comprehensively studied the position of the arm on the user. As a result, three locations around the shoulders and two around the waist were chosen as potential mounting sites. Furthermore, we evaluated the weight burden when the user mounted the wearable robot arm at those positions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Intelligent Robots and Mechatronics)
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Article
Screwdriving Gripper That Mimics Human Two-Handed Assembly Tasks
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010018 - 27 Jan 2022
Viewed by 938
Abstract
Conventional assembly methods using robots need to change end-effectors or operate two robot arms for assembly. In this study, we propose a screwdriving gripper that can perform the tasks required for the assembly using a single robot arm. The proposed screwdriving gripper mimics [...] Read more.
Conventional assembly methods using robots need to change end-effectors or operate two robot arms for assembly. In this study, we propose a screwdriving gripper that can perform the tasks required for the assembly using a single robot arm. The proposed screwdriving gripper mimics a human-two-handed operation and has three features: (1) it performs pick-and-place, peg-in-hole, and screwdriving tasks required for assembly with a single gripper; (2) it uses a flexible link that complies with the contact force in the environment; and (3) it employs the same joints as the pronation and supination of the wrist, which help the manipulator to create a path. We propose a new gripper with 3 fingers and 12 degrees of freedom to implement these features; this gripper is composed of grasping and screwdriving parts. The grasping part has two fingers with a roll-yaw-pitch-pitch joint configuration. Its pitch joint implements wrist pronation and supination. The screwdriving part includes one finger with a roll-pitch-pitch joint configuration and a flexible link that can comply with the environment; this facilitates compliance based on the direction of the external force. The end of the screwdriving finger has a motor with a hex key attached, and an insert tip is attached to the back of the motor. A prototype of the proposed screwdriving gripper is manufactured, and a strategy for assembly using a prototype is proposed. The features of the proposed gripper are verified through screwdriving task experiments using a cooperative robotic arm. The experiments showed that the screwdriving gripper can perform tasks required for the assembly such as pick and place, peg-in-hole, and screwdriving. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Robotics and Automation in Smart Manufacturing Systems)
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Article
Multi-Fidelity Information Fusion to Model the Position-Dependent Modal Properties of Milling Robots
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010017 - 21 Jan 2022
Viewed by 770
Abstract
Robotic machining is a promising technology for post-processing large additively manufactured parts. However, the applicability and efficiency of robot-based machining processes are restricted by dynamic instabilities (e.g., due to external excitation or regenerative chatter). To prevent such instabilities, the pose-dependent structural dynamics of [...] Read more.
Robotic machining is a promising technology for post-processing large additively manufactured parts. However, the applicability and efficiency of robot-based machining processes are restricted by dynamic instabilities (e.g., due to external excitation or regenerative chatter). To prevent such instabilities, the pose-dependent structural dynamics of the robot must be accurately modeled. To do so, a novel data-driven information fusion approach is proposed: the spatial behavior of the robot’s modal parameters is modeled in a horizontal plane using probabilistic machine learning techniques. A probabilistic formulation allows an estimation of the model uncertainties as well, which increases the model reliability and robustness. To increase the predictive performance, an information fusion scheme is leveraged: information from a rigid body model of the fundamental behavior of the robot’s structural dynamics is fused with a limited number of estimated modal properties from experimental modal analysis. The results indicate that such an approach enables a user-friendly and efficient modeling method and provides reliable predictions of the directional robot dynamics within a large modeling domain. Full article
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Article
Optimizing Cycle Time of Industrial Robotic Tasks with Multiple Feasible Configurations at the Working Points
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010016 - 15 Jan 2022
Viewed by 706
Abstract
Industrial robot applications should be designed to allow the robot to provide the best performance for increasing throughput. In this regard, both trajectory and task order optimization are crucial, since they can heavily impact cycle time. Moreover, it is very common for a [...] Read more.
Industrial robot applications should be designed to allow the robot to provide the best performance for increasing throughput. In this regard, both trajectory and task order optimization are crucial, since they can heavily impact cycle time. Moreover, it is very common for a robotic application to be kinematically or functionally redundant so that multiple arm configurations may fulfill the same task at the working points. In this context, even if the working cycle is composed of a small number of points, the number of possible sequences can be very high, so that the robot programmer usually cannot evaluate them all to obtain the shortest possible cycle time. One of the most well-known problems used to define the optimal task order is the Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP), but in its original formulation, it does not allow to consider different robot configurations at the same working point. This paper aims at overcoming TSP limitations by adding some mathematical and conceptual constraints to the problem. With such improvements, TSP can be used successfully to optimize the cycle time of industrial robotic tasks where multiple configurations are allowed at the working points. Simulation and experimental results are presented to assess how cost (cycle time) and computational time are influenced by the proposed implementation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Industrial Robotics)
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Article
A Recursive Algorithm for the Forward Kinematic Analysis of Robotic Systems Using Euler Angles
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010015 - 14 Jan 2022
Viewed by 788
Abstract
Forward kinematics is one of the main research fields in robotics, where the goal is to obtain the position of a robot’s end-effector from its joint parameters. This work presents a method for achieving this using a recursive algorithm that builds a 3D [...] Read more.
Forward kinematics is one of the main research fields in robotics, where the goal is to obtain the position of a robot’s end-effector from its joint parameters. This work presents a method for achieving this using a recursive algorithm that builds a 3D computational model from the configuration of a robotic system. The orientation of the robot’s links is determined from the joint angles using Euler Angles and rotation matrices. Kinematic links are modeled sequentially, the properties of each link are defined by its geometry, the geometry of its predecessor in the kinematic chain, and the configuration of the joint between them. This makes this method ideal for tackling serial kinematic chains. The proposed method is advantageous due to its theoretical increase in computational efficiency, ease of implementation, and simple interpretation of the geometric operations. This method is tested and validated by modeling a human-inspired robotic mobile manipulator (CHARMIE) in Python. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Industrial Robotics and Intelligent Systems)
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Article
Effects on Trajectory of a Spear Using Movement of Robotic Fish Equipped with Spear Shooting Mechanism
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010014 - 11 Jan 2022
Viewed by 683
Abstract
In Japan, the disruption of ecosystems caused by alien fish in lakes and ponds is a major issue. To address this problem, we propose that the robotic fish COMET can assist in alien fish extermination by adding the function of spear shooting. The [...] Read more.
In Japan, the disruption of ecosystems caused by alien fish in lakes and ponds is a major issue. To address this problem, we propose that the robotic fish COMET can assist in alien fish extermination by adding the function of spear shooting. The way of extermination is that when COMET finds an alien fish, let COMET approach an alien fish without being wary it and spear it. In this study, we investigated the spear shooting process under different movement conditions to determine the impact on the accuracy of the trajectory of the spear. The results confirmed that a certain set of conditions can improve the accuracy of hitting the target with a spear using specific movements of the robotic fish. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Motion Planning and Control for Robotics)
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Article
Mixed Position and Twist Space Synthesis of 3R Chains
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010013 - 10 Jan 2022
Viewed by 638
Abstract
Mixed-position kinematic synthesis is used to not only reach a certain number of precision positions, but also impose certain instantaneous motion conditions at those positions. In the traditional approach, one end-effector twist is defined at each precision position in order to achieve better [...] Read more.
Mixed-position kinematic synthesis is used to not only reach a certain number of precision positions, but also impose certain instantaneous motion conditions at those positions. In the traditional approach, one end-effector twist is defined at each precision position in order to achieve better guidance of the end-effector along a desired trajectory. For one-degree-of-freedom linkages, that suffices to fully specify the trajectory locally. However, for systems with a higher number of degrees of freedom, such as robotic systems, it is possible to specify a complete higher-dimensional subspace of potential twists at particular positions. In this work, we focus on the 3R serial chain. We study the three-dimensional subspaces of twists that can be defined and set the mixed-position equations to synthesize the chain. The number and type of twist systems that a chain can generate depend on the topology of the chain; we find that the spatial 3R chain can generate seven different fully defined twist systems. Finally, examples of synthesis with several fully defined and partially defined twist spaces are presented. We show that it is possible to synthesize 3R chains for feasible subspaces of different types. This allows a complete definition of potential motions at particular positions, which could be used for the design of precise interaction with contact surfaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kinematics and Robot Design IV, KaRD2021)
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Article
Optimization of Link Length Fitting between an Operator and a Robot with Digital Annealer for a Leader-Follower Operation
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010012 - 08 Jan 2022
Viewed by 645
Abstract
In recent years, the teleoperation of robots has become widespread in practical use. However, in some current modes of robot operation, such as leader-follower control, the operator must use visual information to recognize the physical deviation between him/herself and the robot, and correct [...] Read more.
In recent years, the teleoperation of robots has become widespread in practical use. However, in some current modes of robot operation, such as leader-follower control, the operator must use visual information to recognize the physical deviation between him/herself and the robot, and correct the operation instructions sequentially, which limits movement speed and places a heavy burden on the operator. In this study, we propose a leader-follower control parameter optimization method for the feedforward correction necessitated by deviations in the link length between the robot and the operator. To optimize the parameters, we used the Digital Annealer developed by Fujitsu Ltd., which can solve the combinatorial optimization problem at high speed. The main objective was to minimize the difference between the hand coordinates target and the actual hand position of the robot. In simulations, the proposed method decreased the difference between the hand position of the robot and the target. Moreover, this method enables optimum operation, in part by eliminating the need for the operator to maintain an unreasonable posture, as in some robots the operator’s hand position is unsuitable for achieving the objective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Intelligent Robots and Mechatronics)
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Article
Design of a Labriform-Steering Underwater Robot Using a Multiphysics Simulation Environment
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010011 - 07 Jan 2022
Viewed by 817
Abstract
Bio-inspired solutions devised for Autonomous Underwater Robots are currently investigated by researchers as a source of propulsive improvement. To address this ambitious objective, the authors have designed a carangiform swimming robot, which represents a compromise in terms of efficiency and maximum velocity. The [...] Read more.
Bio-inspired solutions devised for Autonomous Underwater Robots are currently investigated by researchers as a source of propulsive improvement. To address this ambitious objective, the authors have designed a carangiform swimming robot, which represents a compromise in terms of efficiency and maximum velocity. The requirements of stabilizing a course and performing turns were not met in their previous works. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to improve the vehicle maneuvering capabilities by means of a novel transmission system capable of transforming the constant angular velocity of a single rotary actuator into the pitching–yawing rotation of fish pectoral fins. Here, the biomimetic thrusters exploit the drag-based momentum transfer mechanism of labriform swimmers to generate the necessary steering torque. Aside from inertia and encumbrance reduction, the main improvement of this solution is the inherent synchronization of the system granted by the mechanism’s kinematics. The system was sized by using the experimental results collected by biologists and then integrated in a multiphysics simulation environment to predict the resulting maneuvering performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kinematics and Robot Design IV, KaRD2021)
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Article
Dimensional Synthesis of a Novel 3-URU Translational Manipulator Implemented through a Novel Method
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010010 - 05 Jan 2022
Viewed by 623
Abstract
A dimensional synthesis of parallel manipulators (PMs) consists of determining the values of the geometric parameters that affect the platform motion so that a useful workspace with assigned sizes can be suitably located in a free-from-singularity region of its operational space. The main [...] Read more.
A dimensional synthesis of parallel manipulators (PMs) consists of determining the values of the geometric parameters that affect the platform motion so that a useful workspace with assigned sizes can be suitably located in a free-from-singularity region of its operational space. The main goal of this preliminary dimensioning is to keep the PM far enough from singularities to avoid high internal loads in the links and guarantee a good positioning precision (i.e., for getting good kinematic performances). This paper presents a novel method for the dimensional synthesis of translational PMs (TPMs) and applies it to a TPM previously proposed by the author. The proposed method, which is based on Jacobians’ properties, exploits the fact that TPM parallel Jacobians are block diagonal matrices to overcome typical drawbacks of indices based on Jacobian properties. The proposed method can be also applied to all the lower-mobility PMs with block diagonal Jacobians that separate platform rotations from platform translations (e.g., parallel wrists). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kinematics and Robot Design IV, KaRD2021)
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Communication
A Methodology for Flexible Implementation of Collaborative Robots in Smart Manufacturing Systems
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010009 - 04 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 740
Abstract
Small-scale production is relying more and more on personalization and flexibility as an innovation key for success in response to market needs such as diversification of consumer preferences and/or greater regulatory pressure. This can be possible thanks to assembly lines dynamically adaptable to [...] Read more.
Small-scale production is relying more and more on personalization and flexibility as an innovation key for success in response to market needs such as diversification of consumer preferences and/or greater regulatory pressure. This can be possible thanks to assembly lines dynamically adaptable to new production requirements, easily reconfigurable and reprogrammable to any change in the production line. In such new automated production lines, where traditional automation is not applicable, human and robot collaboration can be established, giving birth to a kind of industrial craftsmanship. The idea at the base of this work is to take advantage of collaborative robotics by using the robots as other generic industrial tools. To overcome the need of complex programming, identified in the literature as one of the main issues preventing cobot diffusion into industrial environments, the paper proposes an approach for simplifying the programming process while still maintaining high flexibility through a pyramidal parametrized approach exploiting cobot collaborative features. An Interactive Refinement Programming procedure is described and validated through a real test case performed as a pilot in the Building Automation department of ABB in Vittuone (Milan, Italy). The key novel ingredients in this approach are a first translation phase, carried out by engineers of production processes who convert the sequence of assembly operations into a preliminary code built as a sequence of robot operations, followed by an on-line correction carried out by non-expert users who can interact with the machine to define the input parameters to make the robotic code runnable. The users in this second step do not need any competence in programming robotic code. Moreover, from an economic point of view, a standardized way of assessing the convenience of the robotic investment is proposed. Both economic and technical results highlight improvements in comparison to the traditional automation approach, demonstrating the possibility to open new further opportunities for collaborative robots when small/medium batch sizes are involved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kinematics and Robot Design IV, KaRD2021)
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Article
A Reconfiguration Algorithm for the Single-Driven Hexapod-Type Parallel Mechanism
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010008 - 02 Jan 2022
Viewed by 644
Abstract
This paper presents a hexapod-type reconfigurable parallel mechanism that operates from a single actuator. The mechanism design allows reproducing diverse output link trajectories without using additional actuators. The paper provides the kinematic analysis where the analytical relationships between the output link coordinates and [...] Read more.
This paper presents a hexapod-type reconfigurable parallel mechanism that operates from a single actuator. The mechanism design allows reproducing diverse output link trajectories without using additional actuators. The paper provides the kinematic analysis where the analytical relationships between the output link coordinates and actuated movement are determined. These relations are used next to develop an original and computationally effective algorithm for the reconfiguration procedure. The algorithm enables selecting mechanism parameters to realize a specific output link trajectory. Several examples demonstrate the implementation of the proposed techniques. CAD simulations on a mechanism virtual prototype verify the correctness of the suggested algorithm. Full article
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Article
Faster than Real-Time Surface Pose Estimation with Application to Autonomous Robotic Grasping
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010007 - 02 Jan 2022
Viewed by 691
Abstract
Motivated by grasp planning applications within cluttered environments, this paper presents a novel approach to performing real-time surface segmentations of never-before-seen objects scattered across a given scene. This approach utilizes an input 2D depth map, where a first principles-based algorithm is utilized to [...] Read more.
Motivated by grasp planning applications within cluttered environments, this paper presents a novel approach to performing real-time surface segmentations of never-before-seen objects scattered across a given scene. This approach utilizes an input 2D depth map, where a first principles-based algorithm is utilized to exploit the fact that continuous surfaces are bounded by contours of high gradient. From these regions, the associated object surfaces can be isolated and further adapted for grasp planning. This paper also provides details for extracting the six-DOF pose for an isolated surface and presents the case of leveraging such a pose to execute planar grasping to achieve both force and torque closure. As a consequence of the highly parallel software implementation, the algorithm is shown to outperform prior approaches across all notable metrics and is also shown to be invariant to object rotation, scale, orientation relative to other objects, clutter, and varying degree of noise. This allows for a robust set of operations that could be applied to many areas of robotics research. The algorithm is faster than real time in the sense that it is nearly two times faster than the sensor rate of 30 fps. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Intelligent Robots and Mechatronics)
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Article
A Screw Theory Approach to Computing the Instantaneous Rotation Centers of Indeterminate Planar Linkages
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010006 - 31 Dec 2021
Viewed by 607
Abstract
This paper presents a screw theory approach for the computation of the instantaneous rotation centers of indeterminate planar linkages. Since the end of the 19th century, the determination of the instantaneous rotation, or velocity centers of planar mechanisms has been an important topic [...] Read more.
This paper presents a screw theory approach for the computation of the instantaneous rotation centers of indeterminate planar linkages. Since the end of the 19th century, the determination of the instantaneous rotation, or velocity centers of planar mechanisms has been an important topic in kinematics that has led to the well-known Aronhold–Kennedy theorem. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was found that there were planar mechanisms for which the application of the Aronhold–Kennedy theorem was unable to find all the instantaneous rotation centers (IRCs). These mechanisms were denominated complex or indeterminate. The beginning of this century saw a renewed interest in complex or indeterminate planar mechanisms. In this contribution, a new and simpler screw theory approach for the determination of indeterminate rotation centers of planar linkages is presented. The new approach provides a simpler method for setting up the equations. Furthermore, the algebraic equations to be solved are simpler than the ones published to date. The method is based on the systematic application of screw theory, isomorphic to the Lie algebra, se(3), of the Euclidean group, SE(3), and the invariant symmetric bilinear forms defined on se(3). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kinematics and Robot Design IV, KaRD2021)
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Article
Development and Usability Testing of a Finger Grip Enhancer for the Elderly
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010005 - 30 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 700
Abstract
As people age, their finger function deteriorates due to muscle, nerve, and brain degeneration. While exercises might delay this deterioration, an invention that enhances elderly people’s pinching abilities is essential. This study aims to design and develop a finger grip enhancer that facilitates [...] Read more.
As people age, their finger function deteriorates due to muscle, nerve, and brain degeneration. While exercises might delay this deterioration, an invention that enhances elderly people’s pinching abilities is essential. This study aims to design and develop a finger grip enhancer that facilitates the day-to-day pinching activities of elderly people. This research is an extension of a previous study that conceptualised a finger grip enhancer. The device facilitates finger flexion on the thumb and index finger, and weighs 520 g, allowing for improved portability and sufficient force exertion (13.9 N) for day-to-day pinching. To test for usability, eleven subjects aged 65 years and above performed a pinch-lift-hold test on various household objects. The pinch force before and after utilising the device was measured. Using Minitab 18, the statistical significance of using this device was analysed with a paired-samples t-test. With this device, the elderly people’s pinching abilities significantly improved in both pinch force and pinch force steadiness (p < 0.05). The proposed device has the potential to enhance elderly people’s quality of life by supporting a firm pinch in the handling of everyday objects. This research has applicational value in developing exoskeleton devices for patients who require rehabilitation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kinematics and Robot Design IV, KaRD2021)
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Article
Mechatronic Model of a Compliant 3PRS Parallel Manipulator
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010004 - 28 Dec 2021
Viewed by 624
Abstract
Compliant mechanisms are widely used for instrumentation and measuring devices for their precision and high bandwidth. In this paper, the mechatronic model of a compliant 3PRS parallel manipulator is developed, integrating the inverse and direct kinematics, the inverse dynamic problem of the manipulator [...] Read more.
Compliant mechanisms are widely used for instrumentation and measuring devices for their precision and high bandwidth. In this paper, the mechatronic model of a compliant 3PRS parallel manipulator is developed, integrating the inverse and direct kinematics, the inverse dynamic problem of the manipulator and the dynamics of the actuators and the control. The kinematic problem is solved, assuming a pseudo-rigid model for the deflection in the compliant revolute and spherical joints. The inverse dynamic problem is solved, using the Principle of Energy Equivalence. The mechatronic model allows the prediction of the bandwidth of the manipulator motion in the 3 degrees of freedom for a given control and set of actuators, helping in the design of the optimum solution. A prototype is built and validated, comparing experimental signals with the ones from the model. Full article
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Article
Gait Transition from Pacing by a Quadrupedal Simulated Model and Robot with Phase Modulation by Vestibular Feedback
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010003 - 25 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 923
Abstract
We propose a method to achieve autonomous gait transition according to speed for a quadruped robot pacing at medium speeds. We verified its effectiveness through experiments with the simulation model and the robot we developed. In our proposed method, a central pattern generator [...] Read more.
We propose a method to achieve autonomous gait transition according to speed for a quadruped robot pacing at medium speeds. We verified its effectiveness through experiments with the simulation model and the robot we developed. In our proposed method, a central pattern generator (CPG) is applied to each leg. Each leg is controlled by a PD controller based on output from the CPG. The four CPGs are coupled, and a hard-wired CPG network generates a pace pattern by default. In addition, we feed the body tilt back to the CPGs in order to adapt to the body oscillation that changes according to the speed. As a result, our model and robot achieve stable changes in speed while autonomously generating a walk at low speeds and a rotary gallop at high speeds, despite the fact that the walk and rotary gallop are not preprogramed. The body tilt angle feedback is the only factor involved in the autonomous generation of gaits, so it can be easily used for various quadruped robots. Therefore, it is expected that the proposed method will be an effective control method for quadruped robots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechatronics Systems and Robots)
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Article
A Novel 3D Ring-Based Flapper Valve for Soft Robotic Applications
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010002 - 22 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1462
Abstract
In this paper, the design and testing of a novel valve for the intuitive spatial control of soft or continuum manipulators are presented. The design of the valve is based on the style of a hydraulic flapper valve, but with simultaneous control of [...] Read more.
In this paper, the design and testing of a novel valve for the intuitive spatial control of soft or continuum manipulators are presented. The design of the valve is based on the style of a hydraulic flapper valve, but with simultaneous control of three pressure feed points, which can be used to drive three antagonistically arranged hydraulic actuators for positioning soft robots. The variable control orifices are arranged in a rotationally symmetric radial pattern to allow for an inline mounting configuration of the valve within the body of a manipulator. Positioning the valve ring at various 3D configurations results in different pressurizations of the actuators and corresponding spatial configurations of the manipulator. The design of the valve is suitable for miniaturization and use in applications with size constraints such as small soft manipulators and surgical robotics. Experimental validation showed that the performance of the valve can be reasonably modeled and can effectively drive an antagonistic arrangement of three actuators for soft manipulator control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Soft Robotics)
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Article
A Robot Arm Design Optimization Method by Using a Kinematic Redundancy Resolution Technique
Robotics 2022, 11(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11010001 - 22 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1120
Abstract
Redundancy resolution techniques have been widely used for the control of kinematically redundant robots. In this work, one of the redundancy resolution techniques is employed in the mechanical design optimization of a robot arm. Although the robot arm is non-redundant, the proposed method [...] Read more.
Redundancy resolution techniques have been widely used for the control of kinematically redundant robots. In this work, one of the redundancy resolution techniques is employed in the mechanical design optimization of a robot arm. Although the robot arm is non-redundant, the proposed method modifies robot arm kinematics by adding virtual joints to make the robot arm kinematically redundant. In the proposed method, a suitable objective function is selected to optimize the robot arm’s kinematic parameters by enhancing one or more performance indices. Then the robot arm’s end-effector is fixed at critical positions while the redundancy resolution algorithm moves its joints including the virtual joints because of the self-motion of a redundant robot. Hence, the optimum values of the virtual joints are determined, and the design of the robot arm is modified accordingly. An advantage of this method is the visualization of the changes in the manipulator’s structure during the optimization process. In this work, as a case study, a passive robotic arm that is used in a surgical robot system is considered and the task is defined as the determination of the optimum base location and the first link’s length. The results indicate the effectiveness of the proposed method. Full article
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