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Biorobotics: Challenges, Technologies, and Trends

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Mechanical Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2022) | Viewed by 22757

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Institute of Aeronautics and Applied Mechanics (IAAM), Warsaw University of Technology, 00-661 Warsaw, Poland
Interests: biologically inspired methods of motion synthesis and design in legged-locomotion; robot control systems; novel robotic systems; autonomous navigation; human–robot interfaces

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are inviting your submissions to this Special Issue on “Biorobotics: Challenges, Technologies, and Trends”.

Human beings have been always fascinated by the motion of animals. Initially, this interest was confined to the representation of moving creatures in art—especially paintings and sculpture. Later on, this fascination caused the construction of articulated or moving figures and toys, and it had not only an artistic but also pragmatic reason. Centuries before modern robotics and computers, Ismail Al-Jazari (XII AC) was building the first automated, useful devices using the concept of programming; therefore, he is considered as one of the fathers of modern robotics. Many of those constructions took human or animal form.

The idea of useful devices progressed to the design of complex mechanisms capable of propulsion and manipulation. At the end of this trend, service robots emerged.

In our days, significant progress in the current development of powerful robots is achieved not only due to the advanced technologies and due to imitation of the animals’ body shape, but also due to the application of biologically inspired methods in design and control. Efficient methods of robot motion generation refer to the biological and neurological backgrounds.

Biorobotics comprises, in a creative way, the knowledge from engineering, cybernetics, bionics, biology, psychology, and neurology for developing the new robot designs. However, the study of biological patterns for the purpose of a technical world does not mean that the best design ideas can be obtained by copying and imitating. Biology through natural selection delivers the satisfactory solution in the current living conditions. Biological patterns shall be used as the suggestions for the search of effective technical design, and they can be applied, or modified or even rejected.

Another biologically inspired trend in engineering is the combination of technical and biological components in useful devices; the bio-bots (biological robots) are the bio-integrated robots using live cells as the components.

The Special Issue on “Biorobotics: Challenges, Technologies, and Trends” will be devoted to this fascinating and promising area. The broad thematic range of papers covering the recent challenges, technologies, and research trends will offer to readers the knowledge and inspirations for developing the novel robots.

Prof. Dr. Teresa Zielinska
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Applied Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Bio-inspired motion design and synthesis methods
  • Novel design solutions inspired by the living world
  • Biologically inspired robotic technologies
  • The biological, neurological, and psychological fundamentals contributing to robotics

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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17 pages, 7612 KiB  
Article
Pace Running of a Quadruped Robot Driven by Pneumatic Muscle Actuators: An Experimental Study
by Yasuhiro Fukuoka, Ryunosuke Komatsu, Kenta Machii, Masaaki Yokota, Masaki Tobe, Ahmad Najmuddin Ibrahim, Takahiro Fukui and Yasushi Habu
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(9), 4146; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12094146 - 20 Apr 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1816
Abstract
Our goal is to design a neuromorphic locomotion controller for a prospective bioinspired quadruped robot driven by artificial muscle actuators. In this paper, we focus on achieving a running gait called a pace, in which the ipsilateral pairs of legs move in phase, [...] Read more.
Our goal is to design a neuromorphic locomotion controller for a prospective bioinspired quadruped robot driven by artificial muscle actuators. In this paper, we focus on achieving a running gait called a pace, in which the ipsilateral pairs of legs move in phase, while the two pairs together move out of phase, by a quadruped robot with realistic legs driven by pneumatic muscle actuators. The robot is controlled by weakly coupled two-level central pattern generators to generate a pace gait with leg loading feedback. Each leg is moved through four sequential phases like an animal, i.e., touch-down, stance, lift-off, and swing phases. We find that leg loading feedback to the central pattern generator can contribute to stabilizing pace running with an appropriate cycle autonomously determined by synchronizing each leg’s oscillation with the roll body oscillation without a human specifying the cycle. The experimental results conclude that our proposed neuromorphic controller is beneficial for achieving pace running by a muscle-driven quadruped robot. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biorobotics: Challenges, Technologies, and Trends)
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16 pages, 1659 KiB  
Article
Hardware-in-the-Loop Test of a Prosthetic Foot
by Christina Insam, Lisa-Marie Ballat, Felix Lorenz and Daniel Jean Rixen
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(20), 9492; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11209492 - 13 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1970
Abstract
For a targeted development process of foot prostheses, a profound understanding of the dynamic interaction between humans and prostheses is necessary. In engineering, an often employed method to investigate the dynamics of mechanical systems is Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL). This study conducted a fundamental investigation [...] Read more.
For a targeted development process of foot prostheses, a profound understanding of the dynamic interaction between humans and prostheses is necessary. In engineering, an often employed method to investigate the dynamics of mechanical systems is Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL). This study conducted a fundamental investigation of whether HiL could be an applicable method to study the dynamics of an amputee wearing a prosthesis. For this purpose, a suitable HiL setup is presented and the first-ever HiL test of a prosthetic foot performed. In this setup, the prosthetic foot was tested on the test bench and coupled in real-time to a cosimulation of the amputee. The amputee was modeled based on the Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) model, and one stride was performed. The Center of Mass (CoM) trajectory, the Ground Reaction Forces (GRFs), and the hip torque were qualitatively analyzed. The results revealed that the basic gait characteristics of the VPP model can be replicated in the HiL test. Still, there were several limitations in the presented HiL setup, such as the limited actuator performance. The results implied that HiL may be a suitable method for testing foot prostheses. Future work will therefore investigate whether changes in the gait pattern can be observed by using different foot prostheses in the HiL test. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biorobotics: Challenges, Technologies, and Trends)
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17 pages, 6365 KiB  
Article
An Approach to Human Walking Analysis Based on Balance, Symmetry and Stability Using COG, ZMP and CP
by Seonghye Kim and Toshiyuki Murakami
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(20), 7307; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10207307 - 19 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4529
Abstract
The parameters of walking have been studied from the viewpoints of joint rotation and translation of body. The balance and symmetry of walking are indispensable features to understand for healthy walking, while also being a personal characteristic. However, quantification has not been easy [...] Read more.
The parameters of walking have been studied from the viewpoints of joint rotation and translation of body. The balance and symmetry of walking are indispensable features to understand for healthy walking, while also being a personal characteristic. However, quantification has not been easy to carry out in the case of the conventional gait parameters COG (center of gravity) and ZMP (zero moment point). In this approach, the CP (crossing point) is proposed to quantify the concept of symmetry and balance by comparing it to the COG and ZMP. The CP is estimated based on the intersection between the hip line and the ankle line. While the hip line is fixed on the upper body where the COG is, the ankle line is altered depending on the each footfall, where the ZMP is. Therefore, the values of COG, ZMP, and CP have similar or different tendencies in terms of whether balanced walking results in symmetry or not. The validity of this is verified by carrying out a simulation with robot walking, and an experiment using human walking. Through additional experiments, it was noticed that the CP was able to improve the role of COG and ZMP in terms of not only stability, but also its relationship with the movement range of the lower limbs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biorobotics: Challenges, Technologies, and Trends)
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13 pages, 459 KiB  
Article
Compound Heuristic Information Guided Policy Improvement for Robot Motor Skill Acquisition
by Jian Fu, Cong Li, Xiang Teng, Fan Luo and Boqun Li
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(15), 5346; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10155346 - 3 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1921
Abstract
Discovering the implicit pattern and using it as heuristic information to guide the policy search is one of the core factors to speed up the procedure of robot motor skill acquisition. This paper proposes a compound heuristic information guided reinforcement learning algorithm PI [...] Read more.
Discovering the implicit pattern and using it as heuristic information to guide the policy search is one of the core factors to speed up the procedure of robot motor skill acquisition. This paper proposes a compound heuristic information guided reinforcement learning algorithm PI2-CMA-KCCA for policy improvement. Its structure and workflow are similar to a double closed-loop control system. The outer loop realized by Kernel Canonical Correlation Analysis (KCCA) infers the implicit nonlinear heuristic information between the joints of the robot. In addition, the inner loop operated by Covariance Matrix Adaptation (CMA) discovers the hidden linear correlations between the basis functions within the joint of the robot. These patterns which are good for learning the new task can automatically determine the mean and variance of the exploring perturbation for Path Integral Policy Improvement (PI2). Compared with classical PI2, PI2-CMA, and PI2-KCCA, PI2-CMA-KCCA can not only endow the robot with the ability to realize transfer learning of trajectory planning from the demonstration to the new task, but also complete it more efficiently. The classical via-point experiments based on SCARA and Swayer robots have validated that the proposed method has fast learning convergence and can find a solution for the new task. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biorobotics: Challenges, Technologies, and Trends)
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15 pages, 2354 KiB  
Article
A Challenge: Support of Standing Balance in Assistive Robotic Devices
by Vittorio Lippi and Thomas Mergner
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(15), 5240; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10155240 - 29 Jul 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2998
Abstract
Neurological patients using a powered lower-body exoskeleton for rehabilitation of standing and walking skills in an upright body pose face the safety challenge of postural instability and fall. Current research, therefore, develops exoskeletons with self-balancing functions. This study suggests basing the exoskeleton’s stabilization [...] Read more.
Neurological patients using a powered lower-body exoskeleton for rehabilitation of standing and walking skills in an upright body pose face the safety challenge of postural instability and fall. Current research, therefore, develops exoskeletons with self-balancing functions. This study suggests basing the exoskeleton’s stabilization of standing posture on a human-derived postural control mechanism. A corresponding control system has previously been successfully tested with specific balancing tasks in humanoid robots. Here, we provide a short introduction into the control method and, using a lightweight robot, present as a test of the balancing an experimental shift in the body weight distribution (as if, e.g., a human exoskeleton user was raising an arm or leaning the upper body or lifting an external weight). An overview of other specific balancing tests previously already investigated in humans and humanoids is also briefly mentioned. Overall, the tests will allow the quantification of the capabilities of self-balancing exoskeletons developed for patients with partial paralysis of lower body sensorimotor functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biorobotics: Challenges, Technologies, and Trends)
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Review

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18 pages, 3533 KiB  
Review
Research Progress and Prospects of Agricultural Aero-Bionic Technology in China
by Yali Zhang, Haoxin Tian, Xinrong Huang, Chenyang Ma, Linlin Wang, Hanchao Liu and Yubin Lan
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(21), 10435; https://doi.org/10.3390/app112110435 - 6 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2596
Abstract
Accelerating the development of agricultural aviation technology is the need of China’s modern agricultural construction. With the rise of emerging industries such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, autonomous navigation, and the Internet of Things, agricultural aviation is further developing toward the direction of intelligence [...] Read more.
Accelerating the development of agricultural aviation technology is the need of China’s modern agricultural construction. With the rise of emerging industries such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, autonomous navigation, and the Internet of Things, agricultural aviation is further developing toward the direction of intelligence to meet the requirements of efficient and sophisticated agricultural aviation operations. Bionics is a multi-discipline and comprehensive border subject. It is produced by the mutual penetration and integration of life science and engineering science. Bionic technology has received more and more attention in recent years, and breakthroughs have been made in the fields of biomedicine and health, military, brain science and brain-like navigation, and advanced manufacturing. This study summarized the research progress of biomimetic technology in the field of agricultural aviation from three aspects of biological perception, biological behavior, and biological intelligence. On this basis, problems of related research and application of agricultural aircraft in real-time obstacle avoidance, path planning, and intelligent navigation were analyzed. Combined with the practice of the rapid development of agricultural aircraft, research and application of bionic technology suitable for agricultural aircraft were then proposed. Finally, prospects of agricultural aero-bionic technology were also discussed from multiple bionic target fusion, three-dimensional spatial information exploration, sensors, and animal brain system mechanism. This review provides a reference for the development of bionic technology in China’s agricultural aviation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biorobotics: Challenges, Technologies, and Trends)
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Other

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18 pages, 13062 KiB  
Technical Note
Bio-Inspired Soft Robotics: Tunable Photo-Actuation Behavior of Azo Chromophore Containing Liquid Crystalline Elastomers
by Ganesh Shimoga, Dong-Soo Choi and Sang-Youn Kim
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(3), 1233; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11031233 - 29 Jan 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3694
Abstract
Bio-inspiration relentlessly sparks the novel ideas to develop innovative soft robotic structures from smart materials. The conceptual soft robotic designs inspired by biomimetic routes have resulted in pioneering research contributions based on the understanding of the material selection and actuation properties. In an [...] Read more.
Bio-inspiration relentlessly sparks the novel ideas to develop innovative soft robotic structures from smart materials. The conceptual soft robotic designs inspired by biomimetic routes have resulted in pioneering research contributions based on the understanding of the material selection and actuation properties. In an attempt to overcome the hazardous injuries, soft robotic systems are used subsequently to ensure safe human–robot interaction. In contrast to dielectric elastomer actuators, prolific efforts were made by understanding the photo-actuating properties of liquid crystalline elastomers (LCEs) containing azo-derivatives to construct mechanical structures and tiny portable robots for specific technological applications. The structure and material properties of these stimuli-responsive polymers can skillfully be controlled by light. In this short technical note, we highlight the potential high-tech importance and the photo-actuation behavior of some remarkable LCEs with azobenzene chromophores. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biorobotics: Challenges, Technologies, and Trends)
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