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Robotics, Volume 8, Issue 2 (June 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The cover article concerns the development of computer systems for robots dealing with hazardous [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Inverse Kinematics with a Geometrical Approximation for Multi-Segment Flexible Curvilinear Robots
Received: 1 April 2019 / Revised: 31 May 2019 / Accepted: 12 June 2019 / Published: 19 June 2019
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Abstract
Despite research related to flexible or continuum curvilinear robots, there lacks a common simulation tool for continuum robots, which are unlike rigid robots. Thus, in this paper, a robotics toolbox is utilized to model a wire-driven flexible manipulator as one of the continuum [...] Read more.
Despite research related to flexible or continuum curvilinear robots, there lacks a common simulation tool for continuum robots, which are unlike rigid robots. Thus, in this paper, a robotics toolbox is utilized to model a wire-driven flexible manipulator as one of the continuum robots. Constant curvature property can enable the robotics toolbox to represent the flexible manipulator and validate its kinematics. Moreover, because the closed-form inverse kinematics methods developed previously for real-time control conceded limitations in modeling some continuum robots, we hereby develop an inverse kinematics method for the wire-driven flexible manipulator which can provide fast and reliable inverse results. Experimental results showed that geometrical information offered a stable starting point for the proposed inverse kinematics algorithm. Moreover, the first and second derivatives of a fitness function further contributed to a fast-converging solution within a few microseconds. Lastly, for the potential feasibility of an active compliance controller without physical force/torque sensors, a reaction torque observer was investigated for a flexible manipulator with direct drive mechanisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotics, Imaging, and Navigation Sensors for Medical Applications)
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Open AccessArticle
MallARD: An Autonomous Aquatic Surface Vehicle for Inspection and Monitoring of Wet Nuclear Storage Facilities
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 21 May 2019 / Accepted: 14 June 2019 / Published: 18 June 2019
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Abstract
Inspection and monitoring of wet nuclear storage facilities such as spent fuel pools or wet silos is performed for a variety of reasons, including nuclear security and characterisation of storage facilities prior to decommissioning. Until now such tasks have been performed by personnel [...] Read more.
Inspection and monitoring of wet nuclear storage facilities such as spent fuel pools or wet silos is performed for a variety of reasons, including nuclear security and characterisation of storage facilities prior to decommissioning. Until now such tasks have been performed by personnel or, if the risk to health is too high, avoided. Tasks are often repetitive, time-consuming and potentially dangerous, making them suited to being performed by an autonomous robot. Previous autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) have been designed for operation in natural outdoor environments and lack the localisation and tracking accuracy necessary for operation in a wet nuclear storage facility. In this paper the environmental and operational conditions are analysed, applicable localisation technologies selected and a unique aquatic autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) is designed and constructed. The ASV developed is holonomic, uses a LiDAR for localisation and features a robust trajectory tracking controller. In a series of experiments the mean error between the present ASV’s planned path and the actual path is approximately 1 cm, which is two orders of magnitude lower than previous ASVs. As well as lab testing, the ASV has been used in two deployments, one of which was in an active spent fuel pool. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotics in Extreme Environments)
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Open AccessArticle
A Tactile-Based Wire Manipulation System for Manufacturing Applications
Received: 9 April 2019 / Revised: 3 June 2019 / Accepted: 10 June 2019 / Published: 12 June 2019
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Abstract
This paper presents experimental results developed within the WIRES experiment, whose main objective is the robotized cabling of switchgears. This task is currently executed by human operators; the WIRES Project tackles the development of a suitably designed sensorized end effector for the wire [...] Read more.
This paper presents experimental results developed within the WIRES experiment, whose main objective is the robotized cabling of switchgears. This task is currently executed by human operators; the WIRES Project tackles the development of a suitably designed sensorized end effector for the wire precise manipulation. In particular, the developed gripper with tactile sensors are shown and a procedure for the implementation of the insertion task is presented and discussed. Experimental results are reported both for quality of wire shape reconstruction and success rate of insertion task implementation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Simulation Assessment of the Performance of a Redundant SCARA
Received: 13 March 2019 / Revised: 7 June 2019 / Accepted: 10 June 2019 / Published: 12 June 2019
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Abstract
The present paper analyses the potential dynamic performance of a novel redundant SCARA robot, currently at the stage of a functional design proposed by a renowned robot manufacturer. The static and dynamic manipulability of the new concept is compared with the conventional model [...] Read more.
The present paper analyses the potential dynamic performance of a novel redundant SCARA robot, currently at the stage of a functional design proposed by a renowned robot manufacturer. The static and dynamic manipulability of the new concept is compared with the conventional model of the same manufacturer by means of computer simulation in typical pick and place tasks arising from industry. The introduction of a further revolute joint in the SCARA robot kinematics leads to some improvements in the kinematic and dynamic behaviour at the expense of a greater complexity. In this paper, the potential of a redundant SCARA architecture in cutting cycle-times is investigated for the first time in performing several tasks. It is shown that, in order to exploit the possible enhancements of the redundant structure, the whole manipulator, mechanics and control must be redesigned according to specific tasks aiming at the optimization of their cycle-time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kinematics and Robot Design II, KaRD2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Proposed Smooth-STC Algorithm for Enhanced Coverage Path Planning Performance in Mobile Robot Applications
Received: 22 March 2019 / Revised: 3 June 2019 / Accepted: 6 June 2019 / Published: 11 June 2019
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Abstract
Robotic path planning is a field of research which is gaining traction given the broad domains of interest to which path planning is an important systemic requirement. The aim of path planning is to optimise the efficacy of robotic movement in a defined [...] Read more.
Robotic path planning is a field of research which is gaining traction given the broad domains of interest to which path planning is an important systemic requirement. The aim of path planning is to optimise the efficacy of robotic movement in a defined operational environment. For example, robots have been employed in many domains including: Cleaning robots (such as vacuum cleaners), automated paint spraying robots, window cleaning robots, forest monitoring robots, and agricultural robots (often driven using satellite and geostationary positional satellite data). Additionally, mobile robotic systems have been utilised in disaster areas and locations hazardous to humans (such as war zones in mine clearance). The coverage path planning problem describes an approach which is designed to determine the path that traverses all points in a defined operational environment while avoiding static and dynamic (moving) obstacles. In this paper we present our proposed Smooth-STC model, the aim of the model being to identify an optimal path, avoid all obstacles, prevent (or at least minimise) backtracking, and maximise the coverage in any defined operational environment. The experimental results in a simulation show that, in uncertain environments, our proposed smooth STC method achieves an almost absolute coverage rate and demonstrates improvement when measured against alternative conventional algorithms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
URSIM: Unique Regions for Sketch Map Interpretation and Matching
Received: 3 April 2019 / Revised: 31 May 2019 / Accepted: 3 June 2019 / Published: 5 June 2019
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Abstract
We present a method for matching sketch maps to a corresponding metric map, with the aim of later using the sketch as an intuitive interface for human–robot interactions. While sketch maps are not metrically accurate and many details, which are deemed unnecessary, are [...] Read more.
We present a method for matching sketch maps to a corresponding metric map, with the aim of later using the sketch as an intuitive interface for human–robot interactions. While sketch maps are not metrically accurate and many details, which are deemed unnecessary, are omitted, they represent the topology of the environment well and are typically accurate at key locations. Thus, for sketch map interpretation and matching, one cannot only rely on metric information. Our matching method first finds the most distinguishable, or unique, regions of two maps. The topology of the maps, the positions of the unique regions, and the size of all regions are used to build region descriptors. Finally, a sequential graph matching algorithm uses the region descriptors to find correspondences between regions of the sketch and metric maps. Our method obtained higher accuracy than both a state-of-the-art matching method for inaccurate map matching, and our previous work on the subject. The state of the art was unable to match sketch maps while our method performed only 10% worse than a human expert. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Vision-Based Assisted Tele-Operation of a Dual-Arm Hydraulically Actuated Robot for Pipe Cutting and Grasping in Nuclear Environments
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 24 May 2019 / Accepted: 29 May 2019 / Published: 4 June 2019
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Abstract
This article investigates visual servoing for a hydraulically actuated dual-arm robot, in which the user selects the object of interest from an on-screen image, whilst the computer control system implements via feedback control the required position and orientation of the manipulators. To improve [...] Read more.
This article investigates visual servoing for a hydraulically actuated dual-arm robot, in which the user selects the object of interest from an on-screen image, whilst the computer control system implements via feedback control the required position and orientation of the manipulators. To improve on the current joystick direct tele-operation commonly used as standard in the nuclear industry, which is slow and requires extensive operator training, the proposed assisted tele-operation makes use of a single camera mounted on the robot. Focusing on pipe cutting as an example, the new system ensures that one manipulator automatically grasps the user-selected pipe, and appropriately positions the second for a cutting operation. Initial laboratory testing (using a plastic pipe) shows the efficacy of the approach for positioning the manipulators, and suggests that for both experienced and inexperienced users, the task is completed significantly faster than via tele-operation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotics in Extreme Environments)
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Open AccessArticle
Upside-Down Robots: Modeling and Experimental Validation of Magnetic-Adhesion Mobile Systems
Received: 30 March 2019 / Revised: 23 May 2019 / Accepted: 29 May 2019 / Published: 31 May 2019
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Abstract
In this paper, we present the modeling and validation of a new family of climbing robots that are capable of adhering to vertical surfaces through permanent magnetic elements. The robotic system is composed of two modules, the master and the follower carts, which [...] Read more.
In this paper, we present the modeling and validation of a new family of climbing robots that are capable of adhering to vertical surfaces through permanent magnetic elements. The robotic system is composed of two modules, the master and the follower carts, which are arranged in a sandwich configuration, with the surface to climb interposed between them. Thanks to this configuration, the mobile robot can climb even nonferromagnetic and curved surfaces; moreover, the master cart is capable of freely moving on the floor by detaching from the follower. In this paper, we propose the mathematical modeling, simulation, and experimental validation of this kind of robots, with particular focus on the transitions between floor and climbing motion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
The Auto-Complete Graph: Merging and Mutual Correction of Sensor and Prior Maps for SLAM
Received: 9 March 2019 / Revised: 17 May 2019 / Accepted: 20 May 2019 / Published: 29 May 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 957 | PDF Full-text (3383 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) usually assumes the robot starts without knowledge of the environment. While prior information, such as emergency maps or layout maps, is often available, integration is not trivial since such maps are often out of date and have uncertainty [...] Read more.
Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) usually assumes the robot starts without knowledge of the environment. While prior information, such as emergency maps or layout maps, is often available, integration is not trivial since such maps are often out of date and have uncertainty in local scale. Integration of prior map information is further complicated by sensor noise, drift in the measurements, and incorrect scan registrations in the sensor map. We present the Auto-Complete Graph (ACG), a graph-based SLAM method merging elements of sensor and prior maps into one consistent representation. After optimizing the ACG, the sensor map’s errors are corrected thanks to the prior map, while the sensor map corrects the local scale inaccuracies in the prior map. We provide three datasets with associated prior maps: two recorded in campus environments, and one from a fireman training facility. Our method handled up to 40% of noise in odometry, was robust to varying levels of details between the prior and the sensor map, and could correct local scale errors of the prior. In field tests with ACG, users indicated points of interest directly on the prior before exploration. We did not record failures in reaching them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotics in Extreme Environments)
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Open AccessArticle
On a Two-DoF Parallel and Orthogonal Variable-Stiffness Actuator: An Innovative Kinematic Architecture
Received: 19 April 2019 / Revised: 20 May 2019 / Accepted: 23 May 2019 / Published: 27 May 2019
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Abstract
Variable-Stiffness Actuators are continuously increasing in importance due to their characteristics that can be beneficial in various applications. It is undisputed that several one-degree-of-freedom (DoF) solutions have been developed thus far. The aim of this work is to introduce an original two-DoF planar [...] Read more.
Variable-Stiffness Actuators are continuously increasing in importance due to their characteristics that can be beneficial in various applications. It is undisputed that several one-degree-of-freedom (DoF) solutions have been developed thus far. The aim of this work is to introduce an original two-DoF planar variable-stiffness mechanism, characterized by an orthogonal arrangement of the actuation units to favor the isotropy. This device combines the concepts forming the basis of a one-DoF agonist-antagonist variable-stiffness mechanism and the rigid planar parallel and orthogonal kinematic one. In this paper, the kinematics and the operation principles are set out in detail, together with the analysis of the mechanism stiffness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Wearable Sensors for Human–Robot Walking Together
Received: 5 February 2019 / Revised: 30 April 2019 / Accepted: 1 May 2019 / Published: 15 May 2019
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Abstract
Thanks to recent technological improvements that enable novel applications beyond the industrial context, there is growing interest in the use of robots in everyday life situations. To improve the acceptability of personal service robots, they should seamlessly interact with the users, understand their [...] Read more.
Thanks to recent technological improvements that enable novel applications beyond the industrial context, there is growing interest in the use of robots in everyday life situations. To improve the acceptability of personal service robots, they should seamlessly interact with the users, understand their social signals and cues and respond appropriately. In this context, a few proposals were presented to make robots and humans navigate together naturally without explicit user control, but no final solution has been achieved yet. To make an advance toward this end, this paper proposes the use of wearable Inertial Measurement Units to improve the interaction between human and robot while walking together without physical links and with no restriction on the relative position between the human and the robot. We built a prototype system, experimented with 19 human participants in two different tasks, to provide real-time evaluation of gait parameters for a mobile robot moving together with a human, and studied the feasibility and the perceived usability by the participants. The results show the feasibility of the system, which obtained positive feedback from the users, giving valuable information for the development of a natural interaction system where the robot perceives human movements by means of wearable sensors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaborative Mechatronics Systems)
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Open AccessArticle
Multifeature Image Indexing for Robot Localization in Textureless Environments
Received: 29 March 2019 / Revised: 25 April 2019 / Accepted: 30 April 2019 / Published: 3 May 2019
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Abstract
Robot localization is an important task for mobile robot navigation. There are many methods focused on this issue. Some methods are implemented in indoor and outdoor environments. However, robot localization in textureless environments is still a challenging task. This is because in these [...] Read more.
Robot localization is an important task for mobile robot navigation. There are many methods focused on this issue. Some methods are implemented in indoor and outdoor environments. However, robot localization in textureless environments is still a challenging task. This is because in these environments, the scene appears the same in almost every position. In this work, we propose a method that can localize robots in textureless environments. We use Histogram of Oriented Gradients (HOG) and Speeded Up Robust Feature (SURF) descriptors together with Depth information to form a Depth-HOG-SURF multifeature descriptor, which is later used for image matching. K-means clustering is applied to partition the whole feature into groups that are collectively called visual vocabulary. All the images in the database are encoded using the vocabulary. The experimental results show a good performance of the proposed method. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
MIMO PID Controller Tuning Method for Quadrotor Based on LQR/LQG Theory
Received: 15 February 2019 / Revised: 23 April 2019 / Accepted: 25 April 2019 / Published: 1 May 2019
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Abstract
In this work, a new pre-tuning multivariable PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) controllers method for quadrotors is put forward. A procedure based on LQR/LQG (Linear Quadratic Regulator/Gaussian) theory is proposed for attitude and altitude control, which suposes a considerable simplification of the design problem [...] Read more.
In this work, a new pre-tuning multivariable PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) controllers method for quadrotors is put forward. A procedure based on LQR/LQG (Linear Quadratic Regulator/Gaussian) theory is proposed for attitude and altitude control, which suposes a considerable simplification of the design problem due to only one pretuning parameter being used. With the aim to analyze the performance and robustness of the proposed method, a non-linear mathematical model of the DJI-F450 quadrotor is employed, where rotors dynamics, together with sensors drift/bias properties and noise characteristics of low-cost commercial sensors typically used in this type of applications are considered. In order to estimate the state vector and compensate bias/drift effects in the measures, a combination of filtering and data fusion algorithms (Kalman filter and Madgwick algorithm for attitude estimation) are proposed and implemented. Performance and robustness analysis of the control system is carried out by employing numerical simulations, which take into account the presence of uncertainty in the plant model and external disturbances. The obtained results show the proposed controller design method for multivariable PID controller is robust with respect to: (a) parametric uncertainty in the plant model, (b) disturbances acting at the plant input, (c) sensors measurement and estimation errors. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Time-Efficient Co-Operative Path Planning Model Combined with Task Assignment for Multi-Agent Systems
Received: 15 March 2019 / Revised: 19 April 2019 / Accepted: 23 April 2019 / Published: 26 April 2019
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Abstract
Dealing with uncertainties along with high-efficiency planning for task assignment problem is still challenging, especially for multi-agent systems. In this paper, two frameworks—Compromise View model and the Nearest-Neighbour Search model—are analyzed and compared for co-operative path planning combined with task assignment of a [...] Read more.
Dealing with uncertainties along with high-efficiency planning for task assignment problem is still challenging, especially for multi-agent systems. In this paper, two frameworks—Compromise View model and the Nearest-Neighbour Search model—are analyzed and compared for co-operative path planning combined with task assignment of a multi-agent system in dynamic environments. Both frameworks are capable of dynamically controlling a number of autonomous agents to accomplish multiple tasks at different locations. Furthermore, these two models are capable of dealing with dynamically changing environments. In both approaches, the Particle Swarm Optimization-based method is applied for path planning. The path planning approach combined with the obstacle avoidance strategy is integrated with the task assignment problem. In one framework, the Compromise View model is used for completing the tasks and a combination of clustering method with the Nearest-Neighbour Search model is used to assign tasks to the other framework. The frameworks are compared in terms of computational time and the resulting path length. Results indicate that the Nearest-Neighbour Search model is much faster than the Compromise View model. However, the Nearest-Neighbour Search model generates longer paths to accomplish the mission. By following the Nearest-Neighbour Search approach, agents can successfully accomplish their mission, even under uncertainties such as malfunction of individual agents. The Nearest-Neighbour Search framework is highly effective due to its reactive structure. As per requirements, to save time, after completing its own tasks, one agent can complete the remaining tasks of other agents. The simulation results show that the Nearest-Neighbour Search model is an effective and robust way of solving co-operative path planning combined with task assignment problems. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Tutorial Review on Space Manipulators for Space Debris Mitigation
Received: 14 February 2019 / Revised: 18 April 2019 / Accepted: 19 April 2019 / Published: 26 April 2019
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Abstract
Space-based manipulators have traditionally been tasked with robotic on-orbit servicing or assembly functions, but active debris removal has become a more urgent application. We present a much-needed tutorial review of many of the robotics aspects of active debris removal informed by activities in [...] Read more.
Space-based manipulators have traditionally been tasked with robotic on-orbit servicing or assembly functions, but active debris removal has become a more urgent application. We present a much-needed tutorial review of many of the robotics aspects of active debris removal informed by activities in on-orbit servicing. We begin with a cursory review of on-orbit servicing manipulators followed by a short review on the space debris problem. Following brief consideration of the time delay problems in teleoperation, the meat of the paper explores the field of space robotics regarding the kinematics, dynamics and control of manipulators mounted onto spacecraft. The core of the issue concerns the spacecraft mounting which reacts in response to the motion of the manipulator. We favour the implementation of spacecraft attitude stabilisation to ease some of the computational issues that will become critical as increasing level of autonomy are implemented. We review issues concerned with physical manipulation and the problem of multiple arm operations. We conclude that space robotics is well-developed and sufficiently mature to tackling tasks such as active debris removal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Space Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Impedance Control Self-Calibration of a Collaborative Robot Using Kinematic Coupling
Received: 24 March 2019 / Revised: 17 April 2019 / Accepted: 19 April 2019 / Published: 23 April 2019
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Abstract
This paper presents a closed-loop calibration approach using impedance control. The process is managed by a data communication architecture based on open-source tools and designed for adaptability. The calibration procedure uses precision spheres and a kinematic coupling standard machine tool components, which are [...] Read more.
This paper presents a closed-loop calibration approach using impedance control. The process is managed by a data communication architecture based on open-source tools and designed for adaptability. The calibration procedure uses precision spheres and a kinematic coupling standard machine tool components, which are suitable for harsh industrial environments. As such, the required equipment is low cost (approximately $2000 USD), robust, and is quick to set up, especially when compared to traditional calibration devices. As demonstrated through an experimental study and validated with a laser tracker, the absolute accuracy of the KUKA LBR iiwa robot was improved to a maximum error of 0.990 mm, representing a 58.4% improvement when compared to the nominal model. Further testing showed that a traditional calibration using a laser tracker only improved the maximum error by 58 µm over the impedance control approach. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Numerical and Experimental Validation of the Prototype of a Bio-Inspired Piping Inspection Robot
Received: 10 March 2019 / Revised: 18 April 2019 / Accepted: 19 April 2019 / Published: 23 April 2019
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Abstract
Piping inspection robots are of greater importance for industries such as nuclear, chemical and sewage. Mechanisms having closed loop or tree-like structures can be employed in such pipelines owing to their adaptable structures. A bio-inspired caterpillar type piping inspection robot was developed at [...] Read more.
Piping inspection robots are of greater importance for industries such as nuclear, chemical and sewage. Mechanisms having closed loop or tree-like structures can be employed in such pipelines owing to their adaptable structures. A bio-inspired caterpillar type piping inspection robot was developed at Laboratoire des Sciences du Numérique de Nantes (LS2N), France. Using DC motors and leg mechanisms, the robot accomplishes the locomotion of a caterpillar in six-steps. With the help of Coulomb’s law of dry friction, a static force model was written and the contact forces between legs of robot and pipeline walls were determined. The actuator forces of the DC motors were then estimated under static phases for horizontal and vertical orientations of the pipeline. Experiments were then conducted on the prototype where the peak results of static force analysis for a given pipe diameter were set as threshold limits to attain static phases inside a test pipeline. The real-time actuator forces were estimated in experiments for similar orientations of the pipeline of static force models and they were found to be higher when compared to the numerical model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Inspection Robotic Systems)
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Open AccessArticle
Remote Presence: Development and Usability Evaluation of a Head-Mounted Display for Camera Control on the da Vinci Surgical System
Received: 26 February 2019 / Revised: 8 April 2019 / Accepted: 16 April 2019 / Published: 19 April 2019
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Abstract
This paper describes the development of a new method to control the camera arm of a surgical robot and create a better sense of remote presence for the surgeon. The current surgical systems are entirely controlled by the surgeon, using hand controllers and [...] Read more.
This paper describes the development of a new method to control the camera arm of a surgical robot and create a better sense of remote presence for the surgeon. The current surgical systems are entirely controlled by the surgeon, using hand controllers and foot pedals to manipulate either the instrument or the camera arms. The surgeon must pause the operation to move the camera arm to obtain a desired view and then resume the operation. The camera and tools cannot be moved simultaneously, leading to interrupted and unnatural movements. These interruptions can lead to medical errors and extended operation times. In our system, the surgeon controls the camera arm by his natural head movements while being immersed in a 3D-stereo view of the scene with a head-mounted display (HMD). The novel approach enables the camera arm to be maneuvered based on sensors of the HMD. We implemented this method on a da Vinci Standard Surgical System using the HTC Vive headset along with the Unity engine and the Robot Operating System framework. This paper includes the result of a subjective six-participant usability study that compares the workload of the traditional clutched camera control method against the HMD-based control. Initial results indicate that the system is usable, stable, and has a lower physical and mental workload when using the HMD control method. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Mechanism Design for Robotics
Received: 17 April 2019 / Accepted: 17 April 2019 / Published: 19 April 2019
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Abstract
MEDER 2018, the IFToMM International Symposium on Mechanism Design for Robotics, was the fourth event of a series that was started in 2010 as a specific conference activity on mechanisms for robots [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
On the Design of a Safe Human-Friendly Teleoperated System for Doppler Sonography
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 12 April 2019 / Published: 15 April 2019
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Abstract
Variable stiffness actuators are employed to improve the safety features of robots that share a common workspace with humans. In this paper, a study of a joint variable stiffness device developed by PPRIME Institute—called V2SOM— for implementation in the joints of a multi-DoF [...] Read more.
Variable stiffness actuators are employed to improve the safety features of robots that share a common workspace with humans. In this paper, a study of a joint variable stiffness device developed by PPRIME Institute—called V2SOM— for implementation in the joints of a multi-DoF robot is presented. A comparison of the interaction forces produced by a rigid body robot and a flexible robot using the V2SOM is provided through a dynamic simulator of a 7-DoF robot. As an example of potential applications, robot-assisted Doppler echography is proposed, which mainly focuses on guaranteeing patient safety when the robot holding the ultrasound probe comes into contact with the patient. For this purpose, an evaluation of both joint and Cartesian control approaches is provided. The simulation results allow us to corroborate the effectiveness of the V2SOM device to guarantee human safety when it is implemented in a multi-DoF robot. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Voltage Dips on Robotic Grasping
Received: 18 February 2019 / Revised: 28 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 April 2019 / Published: 11 April 2019
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Abstract
This paper addresses the effects of electric power quality on robotic operations. A general overview is reported to highlight the main characteristics of electric power quality and it’s effects on a powered system by considering an end-user’s viewpoint. Then, the authors outline the [...] Read more.
This paper addresses the effects of electric power quality on robotic operations. A general overview is reported to highlight the main characteristics of electric power quality and it’s effects on a powered system by considering an end-user’s viewpoint. Then, the authors outline the influence of voltage dip effects by focusing on robotic grasping applications. A specific case study is reported, namely that of LARM Hand IV, a three-fingered robotic hand which has been designed and built at LARM in Cassino, Italy. A dedicated test rig has been developed and set up to generate predefined voltage dips. Experimental tests are carried out to evaluate the effects of different types of voltage dip on the grasping of objects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Extending the Application of an Assistant Personal Robot as a Walk-Helper Tool
Received: 13 March 2019 / Revised: 29 March 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 10 April 2019
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Abstract
This paper presents the application of a mobile robot designed as an Assistant Personal Robot (APR) as a walk-helper tool. The hypothesis is that the height and weight of this mobile robot can be used also to provide a dynamic physical support and [...] Read more.
This paper presents the application of a mobile robot designed as an Assistant Personal Robot (APR) as a walk-helper tool. The hypothesis is that the height and weight of this mobile robot can be used also to provide a dynamic physical support and guidance to people while they walk. This functionality is presented as a soft walking aid at home but not as a substitute of an assistive cane or a walker device, which may withstand higher weights and provide better stability during a walking. The APR operates as a walk-helper tool by providing user interaction using the original arms of the mobile robot and by using the onboard sensors of the mobile robot in order to avoid obstacles and guide the walking through free areas. The results of the experiments conducted with the walk-helper have showed the automatic generation of smooth walking trajectories and a reduction in the number of manual trajectory corrections required to complete a walking displacement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances on Physical Agents)
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Open AccessArticle
A Toolbox for the Analysis of the Grasp Stability of Underactuated Fingers
Received: 29 December 2018 / Revised: 22 March 2019 / Accepted: 28 March 2019 / Published: 6 April 2019
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Abstract
In the design of humanoid robotic hands, it is important to evaluate the grasp stability, especially when the concept of underactuation is involved. The use of a number of degrees of actuation lower than the degrees of freedom has shown some advantages compared [...] Read more.
In the design of humanoid robotic hands, it is important to evaluate the grasp stability, especially when the concept of underactuation is involved. The use of a number of degrees of actuation lower than the degrees of freedom has shown some advantages compared to conventional solutions in terms of adaptivity, compactness, ease of control, and cost-effectiveness. However, limited attention has been devoted to the analysis of grasp performance. Some specific issues that need to be further investigated are, for example, the impact of the geometry of the fingers and the objects to be grasped and the value of the driving mechanical torques applied to the phalanges. This research proposes a software toolbox that is aimed to support a user towards an optimal design of underactuated fingers that satisfies stable and efficient grasp constraints. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism Design for Robotics) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Long-Term Adaptivity in Distributed Intelligent Systems: Study of ViaBots in a Simulated Environment
Received: 28 February 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 26 March 2019 / Published: 29 March 2019
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Abstract
This paper proposes a long-term adaptive distributed intelligent systems model which combines an organization theory and multi-agent paradigm—ViaBots. Currently, the need for adaptivity in autonomous intelligent systems becomes crucial due to the increase in the complexity and diversity of the tasks that autonomous [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a long-term adaptive distributed intelligent systems model which combines an organization theory and multi-agent paradigm—ViaBots. Currently, the need for adaptivity in autonomous intelligent systems becomes crucial due to the increase in the complexity and diversity of the tasks that autonomous robots are employed for. To deal with the design complexity of such systems within the ViaBots model, each part of the modeled system is designed as an autonomous agent and the entire model, as a multi-agent system. Based on the viable system model, which is widely used to ensure viability, (i.e., long-term autonomy of organizations), the ViaBots model defines the necessary roles a system must fulfill to be capable to adapt both to changes in its environment (like changes in the task) and changes within the system itself (like availability of a particular robot). Along with static role assignments, ViaBots propose a mechanism for role transition from one agent to another as one of the key elements of long term adaptivity. The model has been validated in a simulated environment using an example of a conveyor system. The simulated model enabled the multi-robot system to adapt to the quantity and characteristics of the available robots, as well as to the changes in the parts to be processed by the system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Latest Artificial Intelligence Research Output 2018)
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Open AccessArticle
Laban-Inspired Task-Constrained Variable Motion Generation on Expressive Aerial Robots
Received: 13 December 2018 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 18 March 2019 / Published: 27 March 2019
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Abstract
This paper presents a method for creating expressive aerial robots through an algorithmic procedure for creating variable motion under given task constraints. This work is informed by the close study of the Laban/Bartenieff movement system, and movement observation from this discipline will provide [...] Read more.
This paper presents a method for creating expressive aerial robots through an algorithmic procedure for creating variable motion under given task constraints. This work is informed by the close study of the Laban/Bartenieff movement system, and movement observation from this discipline will provide important analysis of the method, offering descriptive words and fitting contexts—a choreographic frame—for the motion styles produced. User studies that use utilize this qualitative analysis then validate that the method can be used to generate appropriate motion in in-home contexts. The accuracy of an individual descriptive word for the developed motion is up to 77% and context accuracy is up to 83%. A capacity for state discernment from motion profile is essential in the context of projects working toward developing in-home robots. Full article
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