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Robotics, Volume 8, Issue 1 (March 2019)

There is a rapid increase in the population of senior citizens in many countries, and the shortage of caregivers is therefore becoming a pressing concern. Healthcare robots are being deployed in an attempt to fill this gap and reduce the workload of caregivers, but introducing robots in the field of care has raised a lot of concerns. Can we give Grandma a robot to keep her company when she is lonely? Is providing an elderly citizen with robot technology considered as ‘good care’? These are not questions of occupational ethics and utility for caregivers or end-users alone: It is important to study the attitudes of trainee caregivers as well, as they may easily come across such new mechanical colleagues on the work floor in the near future. Giving voice to trainee caregivers to express their concerns will encourage better partnerships between human caretakers and upcoming artificial systems.


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Cover Story (view full-size image) There is a rapid increase in the population of senior citizens in many countries, and the shortage [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle A Robotic Head Stabilization Device for Medical Transport
Received: 1 February 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 18 March 2019 / Published: 25 March 2019
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Abstract
In this paper, the design and control of a robotic device intended to stabilize the head and neck of a trauma patient during transport are presented. When transporting a patient who has suffered a traumatic head injury, the first action performed by paramedics [...] Read more.
In this paper, the design and control of a robotic device intended to stabilize the head and neck of a trauma patient during transport are presented. When transporting a patient who has suffered a traumatic head injury, the first action performed by paramedics is typically to restrain and stabilize the head and cervical spine of a patient. The proposed device would drastically reduce the time required to perform this action while also freeing a first responder to perform other possibly lifesaving actions. The applications for robotic casualty extraction are additionally explored. The design and construction are described, followed by control simulations demonstrating the improved behavior of the chosen controller paradigm, linear active disturbance rejection control (LADRC). Finally, experimental validation is presented, followed by future work and directions for the research. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Do You Care for Robots That Care? Exploring the Opinions of Vocational Care Students on the Use of Healthcare Robots
Received: 7 February 2019 / Revised: 10 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
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Abstract
Background: There has been a rapid increase in the population of senior citizens in many countries. The shortage of caregivers is becoming a pressing concern. Robots are being deployed in an attempt to fill this gap and reduce the workload of caregivers. [...] Read more.
Background: There has been a rapid increase in the population of senior citizens in many countries. The shortage of caregivers is becoming a pressing concern. Robots are being deployed in an attempt to fill this gap and reduce the workload of caregivers. This study explores how healthcare robots are perceived by trainee care professionals. Methods: A total of 2365 students at different vocational levels completed a questionnaire, rating ethical statements regarding beneficence, maleficence, justice, autonomy, utility, and use intentions with regard to three different types of robots (assistive, monitoring, and companion) along with six control variables: gender, age, school year, technical skills, interest in technology, and enjoying working with computers. The scores were analyzed by MANOVA statistics. Results: In relation to our research questions: All students viewed companion robots as more beneficent than monitoring and assistive robots. Level of education did not lead to any differences in appraisal. Participants rated maleficence lowest and the highest scores were given to autonomy and utility, meaning a positive evaluation of the use of healthcare robots. Surprisingly, all students rated use intentions low, indicating a poor motivation to actually use a robot in the future, although participants stated a firmer intention for using monitoring devices. Conclusion: Care students find robots useful and expect clients to benefit from them, but still are hesitant to use robots in their future practice. This study suggests that it would be wise to enrich the curriculum of intermediate care education with practical classes on the use and ethical implications of care robots, to ensure that this group of trainee care professionals fully understand the possibilities and potential downside of this emerging kind of healthcare technology. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Using the Engagement Profile to Design an Engaging Robotic Teaching Assistant for Students
Received: 8 February 2019 / Revised: 7 March 2019 / Accepted: 10 March 2019 / Published: 13 March 2019
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Abstract
We report on an exploratory study conducted at a graduate school in Sweden with a humanoid robot, Baxter. First, we describe a list of potentially useful capabilities for a robot teaching assistant derived from brainstorming and interviews with faculty members, teachers, and students. [...] Read more.
We report on an exploratory study conducted at a graduate school in Sweden with a humanoid robot, Baxter. First, we describe a list of potentially useful capabilities for a robot teaching assistant derived from brainstorming and interviews with faculty members, teachers, and students. These capabilities consist of reading educational materials out loud, greeting, alerting, allowing remote operation, providing clarifications, and moving to carry out physical tasks. Secondly, we present feedback on how the robot’s capabilities, demonstrated in part with the Wizard of Oz approach, were perceived, and iteratively adapted over the course of several lectures, using the Engagement Profile tool. Thirdly, we discuss observations regarding the capabilities and the development process. Our findings suggest that using a social robot as a teaching assistant is promising using the chosen capabilities and Engagement Profile tool. We find that enhancing the robot’s autonomous capabilities and further investigating the role of embodiment are some important topics to be considered in future work. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Robust Robotic Disassembly Sequence Design Using Orthogonal Arrays and Task Allocation
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 5 March 2019 / Accepted: 7 March 2019 / Published: 11 March 2019
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Abstract
Disassembly sequence planning (DSP) is a nondeterministic polynomial time (NP) complete problem, making the utilization of metaheuristic approaches a viable alternative. DSP aims at creating efficient algorithms for deriving the optimum or near-optimum disassembly sequence for a given product or a product family. [...] Read more.
Disassembly sequence planning (DSP) is a nondeterministic polynomial time (NP) complete problem, making the utilization of metaheuristic approaches a viable alternative. DSP aims at creating efficient algorithms for deriving the optimum or near-optimum disassembly sequence for a given product or a product family. The problem-specific nature of such algorithms, however, requires these solutions to be validated, proving their versatility in accommodating substantial variations in the problem environment. To achieve this goal, this paper utilizes Taguchi’s orthogonal arrays to test the robustness of a previously-proposed Simulated Annealing (SA) algorithm. A comparison with an exhaustive search is also conducted to verify the efficiency of the algorithm in generating an optimum or near-optimum disassembly sequence for a given product. In order to further improve the solution, a distributed task allocation technique is also introduced into the model environment to accommodate multiple robot arms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Development of a Robotic Airboat for Online Water Quality Monitoring in Lakes
Received: 20 December 2018 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 27 February 2019 / Published: 7 March 2019
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Abstract
Maintenance of water resources through collection of water followed by laboratory analysis, is a key factor in the measurement of water quality. The main difficulty for water collection and analysis is the logistics of the process, since the collections are often made by [...] Read more.
Maintenance of water resources through collection of water followed by laboratory analysis, is a key factor in the measurement of water quality. The main difficulty for water collection and analysis is the logistics of the process, since the collections are often made by mall boats in very distant aquifers, applying manual processes, and are sometimes based on few samples. In this paper, the development, construction, and implementation of a robotic airboat to measure water quality in lakes has been described. The airboat was developed in the form of a mini-boat, in a fiberglass structure, whose interior housed a battery, a Raspberry Pi mini-computer, a Wi-Fi router for connection to a notebook, tablet or cell phone, and sensors connected to the Arduino platform. The airboat was validated in two lagoons in Fortaleza, and in a reservoir in the city of Pacatuba. The results were collected with the purpose of analyzing the parameters of each lagoon. The main contribution of this work was the development of an autonomous system of acquiring water parameters from several points of the lagoon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Intelligent Robot for Uncertain Environments)
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Open AccessArticle V2SOM: A Novel Safety Mechanism Dedicated to a Cobot’s Rotary Joints
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 25 February 2019 / Accepted: 25 February 2019 / Published: 6 March 2019
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Abstract
Unlike “classical” industrial robots, collaborative robots, known as cobots, implement a compliant behavior. Cobots ensure a safe force control in a physical interaction scenario within unknown environments. In this paper, we propose to make serial robots intrinsically compliant to guarantee safe physical human–robot [...] Read more.
Unlike “classical” industrial robots, collaborative robots, known as cobots, implement a compliant behavior. Cobots ensure a safe force control in a physical interaction scenario within unknown environments. In this paper, we propose to make serial robots intrinsically compliant to guarantee safe physical human–robot interaction (pHRI), via our novel designed device called V2SOM, which stands for Variable Stiffness Safety-Oriented Mechanism. As its name indicates, V2SOM aims at making physical human–robot interaction safe, thanks to its two basic functioning modes—high stiffness mode and low stiffness mode. The first mode is employed for normal operational routines. In contrast, the low stiffness mode is suitable for the safe absorption of any potential blunt shock with a human. The transition between the two modes is continuous to maintain a good control of the V2SOM-based cobot in the case of a fast collision. V2SOM presents a high inertia decoupling capacity which is a necessary condition for safe pHRI without compromising the robot’s dynamic performances. Two safety criteria of pHRI were considered for performance evaluations, namely, the impact force (ImpF) criterion and the head injury criterion (HIC) for, respectively, the external and internal damage evaluation during blunt shocks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle Cable Failure Operation Strategy for a Rehabilitation Cable-Driven Robot
Received: 24 January 2019 / Revised: 28 February 2019 / Accepted: 2 March 2019 / Published: 6 March 2019
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Abstract
Cable-Driven Parallel Robots (CDPR) have attracted significant research interest for applications ranging from cable-suspended camera applications to rehabilitation and home assistance devices. Most of the intended applications of CDPR involve direct interaction with humans where safety is a key issue. Accordingly, this paper [...] Read more.
Cable-Driven Parallel Robots (CDPR) have attracted significant research interest for applications ranging from cable-suspended camera applications to rehabilitation and home assistance devices. Most of the intended applications of CDPR involve direct interaction with humans where safety is a key issue. Accordingly, this paper addresses the safety of CDPRs in proposing a strategy to minimize the consequences of cable failures. The proposed strategy consists of detecting a cable failure and avoiding any consequent motion of the end-effector. This is obtained by generating a wrench that is opposite to the direction of the ongoing motion so that the end-effector can reach a safe position. A general formulation is outlined as well as a specific case study referring to the LAWEX (LARM Wire-driven EXercising device), which has been designed within the AGEWELL project for limb rehabilitation. Real-time calculation is carried out for identifying feasible cable tensions, which generate a motion that provides the desired braking force. Simulations are carried out to prove the feasibility and effectiveness of the strategy outlined here in cases of cable failure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics)
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Open AccessReview Analysis of Man-Machine Interfaces in Upper-Limb Prosthesis: A Review
Received: 14 November 2018 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 18 February 2019 / Published: 21 February 2019
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This paper compiles and analyzes some of the most current works related to upper limb prosthesis with emphasis on man-machine interfaces. A brief introduction of the basic subjects is given to explain what a prosthesis is, what types of prostheses exist, what they [...] Read more.
This paper compiles and analyzes some of the most current works related to upper limb prosthesis with emphasis on man-machine interfaces. A brief introduction of the basic subjects is given to explain what a prosthesis is, what types of prostheses exist, what they serve for, how they communicate with the user (control and feedback), and what technologies are involved. The method used in this review is also discussed, as well as the cataloging process and analysis of articles for the composition of this review. Each article is analyzed individually and its results are presented in a succinct way, in order to facilitate future research and serve as a source for professionals related to the area of prosthesis, such as doctors, engineers, researchers, and anyone interested in this subject. Finally, the needs and difficulties of the current prostheses, as well as the negative and positive points in the results are analyzed, and the progress achieved so far is discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Trajectory Design for Energy Savings in Redundant Robotic Cells
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 16 February 2019 / Published: 20 February 2019
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Abstract
This work explores the possibility of exploiting kinematic redundancy as a tool to enhance the energetic performance of a robotic cell. The test case under consideration comprises a three-degree-of-freedom Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA) robot and an additional linear unit that is [...] Read more.
This work explores the possibility of exploiting kinematic redundancy as a tool to enhance the energetic performance of a robotic cell. The test case under consideration comprises a three-degree-of-freedom Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA) robot and an additional linear unit that is used to move the workpiece during a pick and place operation. The trajectory design is based on a spline interpolation of a sequence of via-points: The corresponding motion of the joints is used to evaluate, through the use of an inverse dynamic model, the actuators effort and the associated power consumption by the robot and by the linear unit. Numerical results confirm that the suggested method can improve both the execution time and the overall energetic efficiency of the cell. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle Singularity Avoidance Control of a Non-Holonomic Mobile Manipulator for Intuitive Hand Guidance
Received: 20 January 2019 / Revised: 12 February 2019 / Accepted: 14 February 2019 / Published: 19 February 2019
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Abstract
Mobile manipulators are robot systems capable of combining logistics and manipulation tasks. They thus fulfill an important prerequisite for the integration into flexible manufacturing systems. Another essential feature required for modern production facilities is a user-friendly and intuitive human-machine interaction. In this work [...] Read more.
Mobile manipulators are robot systems capable of combining logistics and manipulation tasks. They thus fulfill an important prerequisite for the integration into flexible manufacturing systems. Another essential feature required for modern production facilities is a user-friendly and intuitive human-machine interaction. In this work the goal of code-less programming is addressed and an intuitive and safe approach to physically interact with such robot systems is derived. We present a natural approach for hand guiding a sensitive mobile manipulator in task space using a force torque sensor that is mount close to the end effector. The proposed control structure is capable of handling the kinematic redundancies of the system and avoid singular arm configurations by means of haptic feedback to the user. A detailed analysis of all possible singularities of the UR robot family is given and the functionality of the controller design is shown with laboratory experiments on our mobile manipulator. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle Use of McKibben Muscle in a Haptic Interface
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 9 February 2019 / Accepted: 14 February 2019 / Published: 18 February 2019
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Abstract
One of the most relevant issues in the development of a haptic interface is the choice of the actuators that are devoted to generating the reflection forces. This work has been particularly focused on the employment of the McKibben muscle to this aim. [...] Read more.
One of the most relevant issues in the development of a haptic interface is the choice of the actuators that are devoted to generating the reflection forces. This work has been particularly focused on the employment of the McKibben muscle to this aim. A prototype of one finger has been realized that is intended to be part of a haptic glove, and is based on an articulated mechanism driven by a McKibben muscle. A dynamic model of the finger has been created and validated; then, it has been used to define the control algorithm of the device. Experimental tests highlighted the static and dynamic effectiveness of the device and proved that a McKibben muscle can be appropriately used in such an application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle Development of a Novel SMA-Driven Compliant Rotary Actuator Based on a Double Helical Structure
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 11 February 2019 / Accepted: 13 February 2019 / Published: 18 February 2019
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Abstract
This paper proposes a new shape memory alloy (SMA)-driven compliant rotary actuator that can perform both passive and self-actuated motions. This SMA actuator is suitable as a redundant actuation part in a parallel robot joint to assist with singularity postures where the robot [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a new shape memory alloy (SMA)-driven compliant rotary actuator that can perform both passive and self-actuated motions. This SMA actuator is suitable as a redundant actuation part in a parallel robot joint to assist with singularity postures where the robot might lose the ability to maintain the position and orientation of the end effector. The double helical compliant joint (DHCJ) was chosen as a candidate mechanism; it can act in soft compliance with linear characteristics and a wide range of motion. The experimental results validated that the proposed model can be used to simulate the DHCJ behavior. The use of this mechanism exhibits advantages such as one-axis rotational motion, linear behavior even for a compliant mechanism, stiffness in the other axes of motion, and compact size. SMA leaves (strips) were used as actuation parts, and a single SMA leaf was tested before combining with the double helical frame as an SMA actuator. The prototype was fabricated, and necessary parameters such as deflection angle, temperature, torque, and stress–strain were collected to define the model for a controller. This actuator is controlled by a feedforward controller and provides rotational motion for both forward and reverse sides with a maximal range of 40 degrees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle A Comparison of Robot Wrist Implementations for the iCub Humanoid
Received: 21 January 2019 / Revised: 9 February 2019 / Accepted: 13 February 2019 / Published: 17 February 2019
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Abstract
This article provides a detailed comparative analysis of five orientational, two degrees of freedom (DOF) mechanisms whose envisioned application is the wrist of the iCub humanoid robot. Firstly, the current iCub mk.2 wrist implementation is presented, and the desired design objectives are proposed. [...] Read more.
This article provides a detailed comparative analysis of five orientational, two degrees of freedom (DOF) mechanisms whose envisioned application is the wrist of the iCub humanoid robot. Firstly, the current iCub mk.2 wrist implementation is presented, and the desired design objectives are proposed. Prominent architectures from literature such as the spherical five-bar linkage and spherical six-bar linkage, the OmniWrist-III and the Quaternion joint mechanisms are modeled and analyzed for the said application. Finally, a detailed comparison of their workspace features is presented. The Quaternion joint mechanism emerges as a promising candidate from this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle Non-Photorealistic Rendering Techniques for Artistic Robotic Painting
Received: 21 December 2018 / Revised: 17 January 2019 / Accepted: 7 February 2019 / Published: 11 February 2019
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In this paper, we present non-photorealistic rendering techniques that are applied together with a painting robot to realize artworks with original styles. Our robotic painting system is called Busker Robot and it has been considered of interest in recent art fairs and international [...] Read more.
In this paper, we present non-photorealistic rendering techniques that are applied together with a painting robot to realize artworks with original styles. Our robotic painting system is called Busker Robot and it has been considered of interest in recent art fairs and international exhibitions. It consists of a six degree-of-freedom collaborative robot and a series of image processing and path planning algorithms. In particular, here, two different rendering techniques are presented and a description of the experimental set-up is carried out. Finally, the experimental results are discussed by analyzing the elements that can account for the aesthetic appreciation of the artworks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle A Robotic Recording and Playback Platform for Training Surgeons and Learning Autonomous Behaviors Using the da Vinci Surgical System
Received: 4 December 2018 / Revised: 28 January 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 6 February 2019
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This paper describes a recording and playback system developed using a da Vinci Standard Surgical System and research kit. The system records stereo laparoscopic videos, robot arm joint angles, and surgeon–console interactions in a synchronized manner. A user can then, on-demand and at [...] Read more.
This paper describes a recording and playback system developed using a da Vinci Standard Surgical System and research kit. The system records stereo laparoscopic videos, robot arm joint angles, and surgeon–console interactions in a synchronized manner. A user can then, on-demand and at adjustable speeds, watch stereo videos and feel recorded movements on the hand controllers of entire procedures or sub procedures. Currently, there is no reported comprehensive ability to capture expert surgeon movements and insights and reproduce them on hardware directly. This system has important applications in several areas: (1) training of surgeons, (2) collection of learning data for the development of advanced control algorithms and intelligent autonomous behaviors, and (3) use as a “black box” for retrospective error analysis. We show a prototype of such an immersive system on a clinically-relevant platform along with its recording and playback fidelity. Lastly, we convey possible research avenues to create better systems for training and assisting robotic surgeons. Full article
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Open AccessCase Report The Robotic Construction Kit as a Tool for Cognitive Stimulation in Children and Adolescents: The RE4BES Protocol
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 22 January 2019 / Accepted: 28 January 2019 / Published: 30 January 2019
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Through numerous experiences, the robotics has been demonstrated to have good potential in the field of strengthening social skills in children with Special Educational Needs and in particular with autism spectrum disorder. There are still not many experimental studies on the cognitive enhancement [...] Read more.
Through numerous experiences, the robotics has been demonstrated to have good potential in the field of strengthening social skills in children with Special Educational Needs and in particular with autism spectrum disorder. There are still not many experimental studies on the cognitive enhancement and social skills of children with special needs conducted with robotics construction kits that, requiring both the construction of the robot body and the programming of its “mind“, bring into play a multiplicity of cognitive and social skills. For the aforementioned reasons our team from the University of Palermo and from the Center MetaIntelligenze ONLUS developed the treatment protocol RE4BES, which is a collection of guidelines for realizing robotics personalized activities for children with special needs. In this paper, two studies will be described concerning the first application of activities drawn from the RE4BES protocol. The first study concerns the use of the robotic construction kits for the stimulation of visuo-spatial abilities; in the second study the robot construction kits have been used to stimulate the attentional abilities in a child with severe difficulties on focused attention tasks. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Systematic Approach to Evaluating and Benchmarking Robotic Hands—The FFP Index
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 15 January 2019 / Accepted: 23 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
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The evaluation of robotic hands is a subjectively biased, complex process. The fields pertaining to robotic hands are human-centric in nature, making human hands a good standard for benchmark comparisons of robotic hands. To achieve this, we propose a new evaluation index, where [...] Read more.
The evaluation of robotic hands is a subjectively biased, complex process. The fields pertaining to robotic hands are human-centric in nature, making human hands a good standard for benchmark comparisons of robotic hands. To achieve this, we propose a new evaluation index, where we evaluate robotic hands on three fronts: their form, features and performance. An evaluation on how anthropomorphic robotic hands are in basic mobility, and appearance constitutes the “Form”, while features that can be read, changed and actuated for effective control of robotic hands constitutes the “Features”. We derived these key features from an extensive analysis of robotic hands in literature. Finally, the robotic hands carry out a series of tasks that evaluate their “Performance”. An individual score for each category is drawn and we carry out a three-pronged analysis. We also propose an additional feature in the form of price to provide context when analysing multiple hands. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Robotics in 2018
Published: 28 January 2019
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Rigorous peer-review is the corner-stone of high-quality academic publishing [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle Determination of Flow Parameters of a Water Flow Around an AUV Body
Received: 19 October 2018 / Revised: 17 January 2019 / Accepted: 22 January 2019 / Published: 28 January 2019
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Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have changed the way marine environment is surveyed, monitored and mapped. Autonomous underwater vehicles have a wide range of applications in research, military, and commercial settings. AUVs not only perform a given task but also adapt to changes in [...] Read more.
Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have changed the way marine environment is surveyed, monitored and mapped. Autonomous underwater vehicles have a wide range of applications in research, military, and commercial settings. AUVs not only perform a given task but also adapt to changes in the environment, e.g., sudden side currents, downdrafts, and other effects which are extremely unpredictable. To navigate properly and allow simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) algorithms to be used, these effects need to be detected. With current navigation systems, these disturbances in the water flow are not measured directly. Only the indirect effects are observed. It is proposed to detect the disturbances directly by placing pressure sensors on the surface of the AUV and processing the pressure data obtained. Within this study, the applicability of different learning methods for determining flow parameters of a surrounding fluid from pressure on an AUV body are tested. This is based on CFD simulations using pressure data from specified points on the surface of the AUV. It is shown that support vector machines are most suitable for the given task and yield excellent results. Full article
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Open AccessReview Deep Reinforcement Learning for Soft, Flexible Robots: Brief Review with Impending Challenges
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 29 December 2018 / Accepted: 1 January 2019 / Published: 18 January 2019
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The increasing trend of studying the innate softness of robotic structures and amalgamating it with the benefits of the extensive developments in the field of embodied intelligence has led to the sprouting of a relatively new yet rewarding sphere of technology in intelligent [...] Read more.
The increasing trend of studying the innate softness of robotic structures and amalgamating it with the benefits of the extensive developments in the field of embodied intelligence has led to the sprouting of a relatively new yet rewarding sphere of technology in intelligent soft robotics. The fusion of deep reinforcement algorithms with soft bio-inspired structures positively directs to a fruitful prospect of designing completely self-sufficient agents that are capable of learning from observations collected from their environment. For soft robotic structures possessing countless degrees of freedom, it is at times not convenient to formulate mathematical models necessary for training a deep reinforcement learning (DRL) agent. Deploying current imitation learning algorithms on soft robotic systems has provided competent results. This review article posits an overview of various such algorithms along with instances of being applied to real-world scenarios, yielding frontier results. Brief descriptions highlight the various pristine branches of DRL research in soft robotics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cloud Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle Indoor Scene and Position Recognition Based on Visual Landmarks Obtained from Visual Saliency without Human Effect
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 4 January 2019 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 11 January 2019
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Numerous autonomous robots are used not only for factory automation as labor saving devices, but also for interaction and communication with humans in our daily life. Although superior compatibility for semantic recognition of generic objects provides wide applications in a practical use, it [...] Read more.
Numerous autonomous robots are used not only for factory automation as labor saving devices, but also for interaction and communication with humans in our daily life. Although superior compatibility for semantic recognition of generic objects provides wide applications in a practical use, it is still a challenging task to create an extraction method that includes robustness and stability against environmental changes. This paper proposes a novel method of scene and position recognition based on visual landmarks (VLs) used for an autonomous mobile robot in an environment living with humans. The proposed method provides a mask image of human regions using histograms of oriented gradients (HOG). The VL features are described with accelerated KAZE (AKAZE) after extracting conspicuous regions obtained using saliency maps (SMs). The experimentally obtained results using leave-one-out cross validation (LOOCV) revealed that recognition accuracy of high-saliency feature points was higher than that of low-saliency feature points. We created our original benchmark datasets using a mobile robot. The recognition accuracy evaluated using LOOCV reveals 49.9% for our method, which is 3.2 percentage points higher than the accuracy of the comparison method without HOG detectors. The analysis of false recognition using a confusion matrix examines false recognition occurring in neighboring zones. This trend is reduced according to zone separations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Persistent Multi-Agent Search and Tracking with Flight Endurance Constraints
Received: 8 November 2018 / Revised: 18 December 2018 / Accepted: 19 December 2018 / Published: 30 December 2018
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A large group of small, limited endurance autonomous vehicles working cooperatively may be more effective in target search and track operations when compared with a long endurance vehicle. For a persistent search and track task, a need exists for coordination algorithms that account [...] Read more.
A large group of small, limited endurance autonomous vehicles working cooperatively may be more effective in target search and track operations when compared with a long endurance vehicle. For a persistent search and track task, a need exists for coordination algorithms that account for limited agent endurance. This paper presents a multi-agent persistent search and track algorithm incorporating endurance constraints in a high-level algorithm that deploys and recovers vehicles from a stationary base station. Agents are assigned to search, track, return, and deploy modes using on-board sensor and battery measurements. Simulations and experiments show the relationship between the number of agents, battery capacity, search performance, and target tracking performance. The measures used to quantify these relationships include spatiotemporal coverage, target tracking effectiveness, and the usage of available aircraft. Hardware experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Representation of Multiple Acoustic Sources in a Virtual Image of the Field of Audition from Binaural Synthetic Aperture Processing as the Head is Turned
Received: 29 August 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 18 December 2018 / Published: 23 December 2018
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Abstract
The representation of multiple acoustic sources in a virtual image of the field of audition based on binaural synthetic-aperture computation (SAC) is described through use of simulated inter-aural time delay (ITD) data. Directions to the acoustic sources may be extracted from the image. [...] Read more.
The representation of multiple acoustic sources in a virtual image of the field of audition based on binaural synthetic-aperture computation (SAC) is described through use of simulated inter-aural time delay (ITD) data. Directions to the acoustic sources may be extracted from the image. ITDs for multiple acoustic sources at an effective instant in time are implied for example by multiple peaks in the coefficients of a short-time base (≈2.25 ms for an antennae separation of 0.15 m) cross correlation function (CCF) of acoustic signals received at the antennae. The CCF coefficients for such peaks at the time delays measured for a given orientation of the head are then distended over lambda circles in a short-time base instantaneous acoustic image of the field of audition. Numerous successive short-time base images of the field of audition generated as the head is turned are integrated into a mid-time base (up to say 0.5 s) acoustic image of the field of audition. This integration as the head turns constitutes a SAC. The intersections of many lambda circles at points in the SAC acoustic image generate maxima in the integrated CCF coefficient values recorded in the image. The positions of the maxima represent the directions to acoustic sources. The locations of acoustic sources so derived provide input for a process managing the long-time base (>10s of seconds) acoustic image of the field of audition representing the robot’s persistent acoustic environmental world view. The virtual images could optionally be displayed on monitors external to the robot to assist system debugging and inspire ongoing development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Robotics EISSN 2218-6581 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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