Special Issue "Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Robotics and Automation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 August 2022) | Viewed by 24264

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Luis Gracia
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Instituto IDF, Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, 46022 Valencia, Spain
Interests: robotic systems; system modeling and control; robust control
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Carlos Perez-Vidal
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
System Engineering and Automation Department, Universidad Miguel Hernandez, 03202 Elche, Spain
Interests: robotics; visual servoing; automation; control engineering

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Research done on robotic applications has significantly grown in the last decade, and currently, robotic systems are being utilized for many purposes. To achieve this generalized use of robots, researchers have been prolific in a wide variety of methods and algorithms to properly use robotic systems in many real-life scenarios.

At present, many types of robotic platforms are being used in different applications, e.g., dual arm robots, parallel robots, mobile robots, humanoid robots, aerial robots, underwater robots, and micro/nano robots. Moreover, some theoretical tools are specially being used to obtain a proper robot performance, e.g., machine learning, artificial intelligence, multi-agent systems, and control and planning theory.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to show the current state of robotic applications. In particular, in addition to introducing new theories and methods, this Special Issue is particularly focused on the use of robotic systems in real-life situations. Thus, the presentation of experimental results makes evident the feasibility and usefulness of robotic systems in practical cases.

Obviously, this Special Issue does not intend to exhaustively show all the current existing robotic applications but rather give an overview of them, showing the high level of activity in this area.

Potential topics include but are not limited to the following: human–robot collaboration and interaction; robot manipulation and manufacturing; robot control and planning; SLAM and robot navigation; robot learning and artificial intelligence; social and service robotics; bio-inspired robotics and soft robotics; multi-robot systems; rescue robotics and swarm robotics; micro and nano robotics; etc.

Prof. Dr. Luis Gracia
Dr. Carlos Perez-Vidal
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (27 papers)

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Research

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Article
A Novel Inverse Kinematic Solution of a Six-DOF Robot Using Neural Networks Based on the Taguchi Optimization Technique
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(19), 9512; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12199512 - 22 Sep 2022
Viewed by 191
Abstract
The choice of structural parameters in the design of artificial neural networks is generally based on trial-and-error procedures. They are regularly estimated based on the previous experience of the researcher, investing large amounts of time and processing resources during network training, which are [...] Read more.
The choice of structural parameters in the design of artificial neural networks is generally based on trial-and-error procedures. They are regularly estimated based on the previous experience of the researcher, investing large amounts of time and processing resources during network training, which are usually limited and do not guarantee the optimal selection of parameters. This paper presents a procedure for the optimization of the training dataset and the optimization of the structural parameters of a neural network through the application of a robust neural network design methodology based on the design philosophy proposed by Genichi Taguchi, applied to the solution of inverse kinematics in an open source, six-degrees-of-freedom robotic manipulator. The results obtained during the optimization process of the structural parameters of the network show an improvement in the accuracy of the results, reaching a high prediction percentage and maintaining a margin of error of less than 5%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
A Symmetry Evaluation Method, Using Elevation Angle, for Lower Limb Movement Patterns during Sitting-to-Standing
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(19), 9454; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12199454 - 21 Sep 2022
Viewed by 240
Abstract
In this paper, we propose a method that uses the femoral and tibial elevation angles to quantitatively evaluate the symmetry of lower limb movement during the transition from a sitting position to a standing position. In kinematic analysis of the transition from sitting [...] Read more.
In this paper, we propose a method that uses the femoral and tibial elevation angles to quantitatively evaluate the symmetry of lower limb movement during the transition from a sitting position to a standing position. In kinematic analysis of the transition from sitting to standing, the angles of the three joints of the lower limb are often measured. However, due to the large number of variables, it is difficult to evaluate the symmetry of the lower limb movement by comparing data from the six joints of the left and right lower limbs. In this study, therefore, we measured the femoral and tibial elevation angles of healthy participants and rehabilitation patients and visually and numerically evaluated the symmetry and asymmetry of the movement of the left and right lower limbs. We were able to identify the kinematically major lower limbs in the transition from sitting to standing and quantify the symmetry of the movement patterns of the left and right lower limbs. Furthermore, we examined the possibility that the method could be effectively used in the rehabilitation field to evaluate the motor co-ordination that constitutes the lower limb movement pattern in the transition from the sitting to standing position, such as the gait plane rule. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Multiple Object Tracking in Robotic Applications: Trends and Challenges
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(19), 9408; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12199408 - 20 Sep 2022
Viewed by 191
Abstract
The recent advancement in autonomous robotics is directed toward designing a reliable system that can detect and track multiple objects in the surrounding environment for navigation and guidance purposes. This paper aims to survey the recent development in this area and present the [...] Read more.
The recent advancement in autonomous robotics is directed toward designing a reliable system that can detect and track multiple objects in the surrounding environment for navigation and guidance purposes. This paper aims to survey the recent development in this area and present the latest trends that tackle the challenges of multiple object tracking, such as heavy occlusion, dynamic background, and illumination changes. Our research includes Multiple Object Tracking (MOT) methods incorporating the multiple inputs that can be perceived from sensors such as cameras and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR). In addition, a summary of the tracking techniques, such as data association and occlusion handling, is detailed to define the general framework that the literature employs. We also provide an overview of the metrics and the most common benchmark datasets, including Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Toyota Technological Institute (KITTI), MOTChallenges, and University at Albany DEtection and TRACking (UA-DETRAC), that are used to train and evaluate the performance of MOT. At the end of this paper, we discuss the results gathered from the articles that introduced the methods. Based on our analysis, deep learning has introduced significant value to the MOT techniques in recent research, resulting in high accuracy while maintaining real-time processing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
A Smart Modular IoT Sensing Device for Enhancing Sensory Feedbacks in Surgical Robotics
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(16), 8083; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12168083 - 12 Aug 2022
Viewed by 310
Abstract
This paper proposes a device of sensing that could be integrated into the instruments of any surgical robot. Despite advances in robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery, the tools currently supplied to surgical robots have limited functions, due to the absence of sensorization. With this motivation, [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a device of sensing that could be integrated into the instruments of any surgical robot. Despite advances in robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery, the tools currently supplied to surgical robots have limited functions, due to the absence of sensorization. With this motivation, we present a preliminary work based on the design, development, and early stages of experimentation with smart and multifunctional devices of sensing for surgical tools. The proposed device of sensing has a proximity sensor, colorimetric sensor, and BLE connection for different surgical instruments to connect to each other. The proximity feedback allows the surgeon to know the distance of the instrument from a particular tissue, to operate in conditions of greater safety. With the colorimetric feedback, on the other hand, we intend to proceed to the identification of specific tissue areas with characteristics that are not typical of the physiological tissue. The results show that the device is promising and can be further developed for multiple clinical needs in robotic procedures. This system can effectively increase the functionality of surgical instruments by overcoming the sensing limitations introduced by using robots in laparoscopic surgery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Towards a Multi-Perspective Time of Flight Laser Ranging Device Based on Mirrors and Prisms
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(14), 7121; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12147121 - 14 Jul 2022
Viewed by 354
Abstract
This paper investigates the feasibility of redirecting the field of view (FOV) of a light-based time-of-flight (ToF) ranging device, commonly known as a pulsed lidar, using fixed mirrors and prisms for possible future use in robotics. The emphasis is on configurations where the [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the feasibility of redirecting the field of view (FOV) of a light-based time-of-flight (ToF) ranging device, commonly known as a pulsed lidar, using fixed mirrors and prisms for possible future use in robotics. The emphasis is on configurations where the FOV redirection element is positioned beyond the ranging device’s dead zone. A custom made direct ToF ranging device with time-over-threshold (TOT)-based walk error compensation was used to evaluate the effects of the FOV redirecting optics on range measurement accuracy and precision. The tests include redirecting the FOV with a clean prism with anti-reflective (AR) coating on its legs, as well as with a regular and a first surface mirror in both a clean and dusted state. The study finds the prism to be unsuitable due to parasitic reflections, which ruin the ranging data. The clean mirrors were found to have no noticeable effect on ranging accuracy. When they are dusty, mirrors introduce a negative measurement error. This effect is the most pronounced when a mirror is positioned toward the end of the partial dead zone of the ToF rangefinder, but loses influence as the mirror is moved farther away. The error is attributed to the parasitic reflection off dust on the mirror, which reduces the time of detection of the pulse reflected off the real target, and interferes with the walk error compensation by widening the detected pulse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Face Recognition and Tracking Framework for Human–Robot Interaction
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(11), 5568; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12115568 - 30 May 2022
Viewed by 452
Abstract
Recently, face recognition became a key element in social cognition which is used in various applications including human–robot interaction (HRI), pedestrian identification, and surveillance systems. Deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have achieved notable progress in recognizing faces. However, achieving accurate and real-time face [...] Read more.
Recently, face recognition became a key element in social cognition which is used in various applications including human–robot interaction (HRI), pedestrian identification, and surveillance systems. Deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have achieved notable progress in recognizing faces. However, achieving accurate and real-time face recognition is still a challenging problem, especially in unconstrained environments due to occlusion, lighting conditions, and the diversity in head poses. In this paper, we present a robust face recognition and tracking framework in unconstrained settings. We developed our framework based on lightweight CNNs for all face recognition stages, including face detection, alignment and feature extraction, to achieve higher accuracies in these challenging circumstances while maintaining the real-time capabilities required for HRI systems. To maintain the accuracy, a single-shot multi-level face localization in the wild (RetinaFace) is utilized for face detection, and additive angular margin loss (ArcFace) is employed for recognition. For further enhancement, we introduce a face tracking algorithm that combines the information from tracked faces with the recognized identity to use in the further frames. This tracking algorithm improves the overall processing time and accuracy. The proposed system performance is tested in real-time experiments applied in an HRI study. Our proposed framework achieves real-time capabilities with an average of 99%, 95%, and 97% precision, recall, and F-score respectively. In addition, we implemented our system as a modular ROS package that makes it straightforward for integration in different real-world HRI systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Augmented Reality-Based Interface for Bimanual Robot Teleoperation
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(9), 4379; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12094379 - 26 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 518
Abstract
Teleoperation of bimanual robots is being used to carry out complex tasks such as surgeries in medicine. Despite the technological advances, current interfaces are not natural to the users, who spend long periods of time in learning how to use these interfaces. In [...] Read more.
Teleoperation of bimanual robots is being used to carry out complex tasks such as surgeries in medicine. Despite the technological advances, current interfaces are not natural to the users, who spend long periods of time in learning how to use these interfaces. In order to mitigate this issue, this work proposes a novel augmented reality-based interface for teleoperating bimanual robots. The proposed interface is more natural to the user and reduces the interface learning process. A full description of the proposed interface is detailed in the paper, whereas its effectiveness is shown experimentally using two industrial robot manipulators. Moreover, the drawbacks and limitations of the classic teleoperation interface using joysticks are analyzed in order to highlight the benefits of the proposed augmented reality-based interface approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Robotic-Assisted Hand Therapy with Gloreha Sinfonia for the Improvement of Hand Function after Pediatric Stroke: A Case Report
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(9), 4206; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12094206 - 21 Apr 2022
Viewed by 541
Abstract
Background: Stroke in childhood presents a serious rehabilitation challenge since it leads to physical, cognitive and psychosocial disability. The objective of our study was to describe the effectiveness of robot-mediated therapy (RMT) with Gloreha Sinfonia in addition to a conventional treatment in the [...] Read more.
Background: Stroke in childhood presents a serious rehabilitation challenge since it leads to physical, cognitive and psychosocial disability. The objective of our study was to describe the effectiveness of robot-mediated therapy (RMT) with Gloreha Sinfonia in addition to a conventional treatment in the recovery of the sensory-motor capabilities of the paretic hand and the quality of life in a ten-year-old child after a stroke. Methods: The girl was enrolled to undergo 10 sessions of RMT with Gloreha Sinfonia. She was evaluated with functional scales and with upper limb kinematic analysis at pre-treatment (T0) and at the end of treatment (T1). Outcome measures were Fugl-Meyer Assessment-Upper Extremity (FMA-UE), Visual Analogic Scale (VAS) and Activities and Participation of Daily Life (ADL). In addition, a Force Assessment System based on Virtual Reality games was used to assess the force control and modulation capability at T0 and T1. Results: At the end of treatment, the patient improved in functional scales and in quality of life for greater involvement in some activity of daily living. Force control and modulation capability significantly increased after the treatment. Conclusions: This clinical case highlights possible positive effects of a combined (conventional plus robotic) rehabilitation treatment for the upper limb in pediatric stroke outcomes from both a sensorimotor and functional point of view, also improving the motivational and affective aspects of the patient and of family members. Further studies are needed to validate these results and to identify the most appropriate modalities and doses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Evaluation of RGB-D Multi-Camera Pose Estimation for 3D Reconstruction
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(9), 4134; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12094134 - 20 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 574
Abstract
Advances in visual sensor devices and computing power are revolutionising the interaction of robots with their environment. Cameras that capture depth information along with a common colour image play a significant role. These devices are cheap, small, and fairly precise. The information provided, [...] Read more.
Advances in visual sensor devices and computing power are revolutionising the interaction of robots with their environment. Cameras that capture depth information along with a common colour image play a significant role. These devices are cheap, small, and fairly precise. The information provided, particularly point clouds, can be generated in a virtual computing environment, providing complete 3D information for applications. However, off-the-shelf cameras often have a limited field of view, both on the horizontal and vertical axis. In larger environments, it is therefore often necessary to combine information from several cameras or positions. To concatenate multiple point clouds and generate the complete environment information, the pose of each camera must be known in the outer scene, i.e., they must reference a common coordinate system. To achieve this, a coordinate system must be defined, and then every device must be positioned according to this coordinate system. For cameras, a calibration can be performed to find its pose in relation to this coordinate system. Several calibration methods have been proposed to solve this challenge, ranging from structured objects such as chessboards to features in the environment. In this study, we investigate how three different pose estimation methods for multi-camera perspectives perform when reconstructing a scene in 3D. We evaluate the usage of a charuco cube, a double-sided charuco board, and a robot’s tool centre point (TCP) position in a real usage case, where precision is a key point for the system. We define a methodology to identify the points in the 3D space and measure the root-mean-square error (RMSE) based on the Euclidean distance of the actual point to a generated ground-truth point. The reconstruction carried out using the robot’s TCP position produced the best result, followed by the charuco cuboid; the double-sided angled charuco board exhibited the worst performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Creating a Novel Mathematical Model of the Kv10.1 Ion Channel and Controlling Channel Activity with Nanoelectromechanical Systems
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(8), 3836; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12083836 - 11 Apr 2022
Viewed by 453
Abstract
The use of nanoelectromechanical systems or nanorobots offers a new concept for sensing and controlling subcellular structures, such as ion channels. We present here a novel method for mathematical modeling of ion channels based on control system theory and system identification. We investigated [...] Read more.
The use of nanoelectromechanical systems or nanorobots offers a new concept for sensing and controlling subcellular structures, such as ion channels. We present here a novel method for mathematical modeling of ion channels based on control system theory and system identification. We investigated the use of nanoelectromechanical devices to control the activity of ion channels, particularly the activity of the voltage-gated ion channel Kv10.1, an important channel in cancer development and progression. A mathematical model of the dynamic behavior of the selected ion channel Kv10.1 in the Laplace (s) domain was developed, which is given in the representation of a transfer function. In addition, we addressed the possibilities of controlling ion channel activity by nanoelectromechanical devices and nanorobots and finally presented a control algorithm for the Kv10.1 as a control object. A use case demonstrates the potential of a Kv10.1 controlled nanorobot for cancer treatment at a single-cell level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Using Full Pose Measurement for Serial Robot Calibration
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(7), 3680; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12073680 - 06 Apr 2022
Viewed by 442
Abstract
To ensure smooth robot operations, parameters of its kinematic model and a registration transformation between robot base and world coordinate frame must be determined. Both tasks require data acquired by external sensors that can measure either 3D locations or full 6D poses. We [...] Read more.
To ensure smooth robot operations, parameters of its kinematic model and a registration transformation between robot base and world coordinate frame must be determined. Both tasks require data acquired by external sensors that can measure either 3D locations or full 6D poses. We show that use of full pose measurements leads to much smaller robot orientation errors when compared with the outcome of calibration and registration procedures based on 3D data only. Robot position errors are comparable for both types of data. The conclusion is based on extensive simulations of 7 degrees of freedom robot arm and different levels of pseudo-noise perturbing both positional and rotational components of pose. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Longitudinal Mode System Identification of an Insect-like Tailless Flapping-Wing Micro Air Vehicle Using Onboard Sensors
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(5), 2486; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12052486 - 27 Feb 2022
Viewed by 693
Abstract
In this paper, model parameter identification results are presented for a longitudinal mode dynamic model of an insect-like tailless flapping-wing micro air vehicle (FWMAV) using angle and angular rate data from onboard sensors only. A gray box model approach with indirect method was [...] Read more.
In this paper, model parameter identification results are presented for a longitudinal mode dynamic model of an insect-like tailless flapping-wing micro air vehicle (FWMAV) using angle and angular rate data from onboard sensors only. A gray box model approach with indirect method was utilized with adaptive Gauss–Newton, Levenberg–Marquardt, and gradient search identification methods. Regular and low-frequency reference commands were mainly used for identification since they gave higher fit percentages than irregular and high-frequency reference commands. Dynamic parameters obtained using three identification methods with two different datasets were similar to each other, indicating that the obtained dynamic model was sufficiently reliable. Most of the identified dynamic model parameters had similar values to the computationally obtained ones, except stability derivatives for pitching moment with forward velocity and pitching rate variations. Differences were mainly due to certain neglected body, nonlinear dynamics, and the shift of the center of gravity. Fit percentage of the identified dynamic model (~49%) was more than two-fold higher than that of the computationally obtained one (~22%). Frequency domain analysis showed that the identified model was much different from that of the computationally obtained one in the frequency range of 0.3 rad/s to 5 rad/s, which affected transient responses. Both dynamic models showed that the phase margin was very low, and that it should be increased by a feedback controller to have a robustly stable system. The stable dominant pole of the identified model had a higher magnitude which resulted in faster responses. The identified dynamic model exhibited much closer responses to experimental flight data in pitching motion than the computationally obtained dynamic model, demonstrating that the identified dynamic model could be used for the design of more effective pitch angle-stabilizing controllers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
An Efficient Stochastic Constrained Path Planner for Redundant Manipulators
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(22), 10636; https://doi.org/10.3390/app112210636 - 11 Nov 2021
Viewed by 456
Abstract
This brief proposes a novel stochastic method that exploits the particular kinematics of mechanisms with redundant actuation and a well-known manipulability measure to track the desired end-effector task-space motion in an efficient manner. Whilst closed-form optimal solutions to maximise manipulability along a desired [...] Read more.
This brief proposes a novel stochastic method that exploits the particular kinematics of mechanisms with redundant actuation and a well-known manipulability measure to track the desired end-effector task-space motion in an efficient manner. Whilst closed-form optimal solutions to maximise manipulability along a desired trajectory have been proposed in the literature, the solvers become unfeasible in the presence of obstacles. A manageable alternative to functional motion planning is thus proposed that exploits the inherent characteristics of null-space configurations to construct a generic solution able to improve manipulability along a task-space trajectory in the presence of obstacles. The proposed Stochastic Constrained Optimization (SCO) solution remains close to optimal whilst exhibiting computational tractability, being an attractive proposition for implementation on real robots, as shown with results in challenging simulation scenarios, as well as with a real 7R Sawyer manipulator, during surface conditioning tasks. Full article
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Article
Autonomous Loading System for Load-Haul-Dump (LHD) Machines Used in Underground Mining
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(18), 8718; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11188718 - 18 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 861
Abstract
This paper describes an autonomous loading system for load-haul-dump (LHD) machines used in underground mining. The loading of fragmented rocks from draw points is a complex task due to many factors including: bucket-rock interaction forces that are difficult to model, humidity that increases [...] Read more.
This paper describes an autonomous loading system for load-haul-dump (LHD) machines used in underground mining. The loading of fragmented rocks from draw points is a complex task due to many factors including: bucket-rock interaction forces that are difficult to model, humidity that increases cohesion forces, and the possible presence of boulders. The proposed system is designed to integrate all the relevant tasks required for ore loading: rock pile identification, LHD positioning in front of the ore pile, charging and excavating into the ore pile, pull back and payload weighing. The system follows the shared autonomy paradigm: given that the loading process may not be completed autonomously in some cases, it takes into account that the machine/agent can detect this situation and ask a human operator for assistance. The most novel component of the proposed autonomous loading system is the excavation algorithm, and the disclosure of the results obtained from its application in a real underground production environment. The excavation method is based on the way that human operators excavate: while excavating, the bucket is tilted intermittently in order to penetrate the material, and the boom of the LHD is lifted on demand to prevent or correct wheel skidding. Wheel skidding is detected with a patented method that uses LIDAR-based odometry and internal measurements of the LHD. While a complete loading system was designed, the validation had to be divided in two stages. One stage included the rock pile identification and positioning, and the other included the charging, excavation, pull back, and weighting processes. The stage concerning the excavation algorithm was validated using full-scale experiments with a real-size LHD in an underground copper mine in the north of Chile, while the stage concerning the rock pile identification was later validated using real data. The tests showed that the excavation algorithm is able to load the material with an average of 90% bucket fill factor using between three and four attempts (professional human operators required between two and three loading attempts in this mine). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Evaluating Levels of Automation in Human–Robot Collaboration at Different Workload Levels
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(16), 7340; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11167340 - 10 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 634
Abstract
This study explored how levels of automation (LOA) influence human robot collaboration when operating at different levels of workload. Two LOA modes were designed, implemented, and evaluated in an experimental collaborative assembly task setup for four levels of workload composed of a secondary [...] Read more.
This study explored how levels of automation (LOA) influence human robot collaboration when operating at different levels of workload. Two LOA modes were designed, implemented, and evaluated in an experimental collaborative assembly task setup for four levels of workload composed of a secondary task and task complexity. A user study conducted involving 80 participants was assessed through two constructs especially designed for the evaluation (quality of task execution and usability) and user preferences regarding the LOA modes. Results revealed that the quality of task execution and usability was better at high LOA for low workload. Most of participants also preferred high LOA when the workload increases. However, when complexity existed within the workload, most of the participants preferred the low LOA. The results reveal the benefits of high and low LOA in different workload situations. This study provides insights related to shared control designs and reveals the importance of considering different levels of workload as influenced by secondary tasks and task complexity when designing LOA in human–robot collaborations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Dual-Arm Peg-in-Hole Assembly Using DNN with Double Force/Torque Sensor
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(15), 6970; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11156970 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 854
Abstract
Assembly tasks executed by a robot have been studied broadly. Robot assembly applications in industry are achievable by a well-structured environment, where the parts to be assembled are located in the working space by fixtures. Recent changes in manufacturing requirements, due to unpredictable [...] Read more.
Assembly tasks executed by a robot have been studied broadly. Robot assembly applications in industry are achievable by a well-structured environment, where the parts to be assembled are located in the working space by fixtures. Recent changes in manufacturing requirements, due to unpredictable demanded products, push the factories to seek new smart solutions that can autonomously recover from failure conditions. In this way, new dual arm robot systems have been studied to design and explore applications based on its dexterity. It promises the possibility to get rid of fixtures in assembly tasks, but using less fixtures increases the uncertainty on the location of the components in the working space. It also increases the possibility of collisions during the assembly sequence. Under these considerations, adding perception such as force/torque sensors have been done to produce useful data to perform control actions. Unfortunately, the interaction forces between mating parts produced non-linear behavior. Consequently, machine learning algorithms have been considered an alternative tool to avoid the non-linearity. In this work we introduce an assembly strategy for an industrial dual arm robot based on the combination of a discrete event controller and Deep Neural Networks (DNN) to solve the peg-in-hole assembly. Our results show the difference between the use of DNN with one and with two force/torque sensors during the assembly task and demonstrate a 30% increase in the assembly success ratio when using a double force/torque sensor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Topological Navigation and Localization in Tunnels—Application to Autonomous Load-Haul-Dump Vehicles Operating in Underground Mines
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(14), 6547; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11146547 - 16 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 895
Abstract
Mobile robots are no longer used exclusively in research laboratories and indoor controlled environments, but are now also used in dynamic industrial environments, including outdoor sites. Mining is one industry where robots and autonomous vehicles are increasingly used to increase the safety of [...] Read more.
Mobile robots are no longer used exclusively in research laboratories and indoor controlled environments, but are now also used in dynamic industrial environments, including outdoor sites. Mining is one industry where robots and autonomous vehicles are increasingly used to increase the safety of the workers, as well as to augment the productivity, efficiency, and predictability of the processes. Since autonomous vehicles navigate inside tunnels in underground mines, this kind of navigation has different precision requirements than navigating in an open environment. When driving inside tunnels, it is not relevant to have accurate self-localization, but it is necessary for autonomous vehicles to be able to move safely through the tunnel and to make appropriate decisions at its intersections and access points in the tunnel. To address these needs, a topological navigation system for mining vehicles operating in tunnels is proposed and validated in this paper. This system was specially designed to be used by Load-Haul-Dump (LHD) vehicles, also known as scoop trams, operating in underground mines. In addition, a localization system, specifically designed to be used with the topological navigation system and its associated topological map, is also proposed. The proposed topological navigation and localization systems were validated using a commercial LHD during several months at a copper sub-level stoping mine located in the Coquimbo Region in the northern part of Chile. An important aspect to be addressed when working with heavy-duty machinery, such as LHDs, is the way in which automation systems are developed and tested. For this reason, the development and testing methodology, which includes the use of simulators, scale-models of LHDs, validation, and testing using a commercial LHD in test-fields, and its final validation in a mine, are described. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Autonomous Mobile Robot Navigation in Sparse LiDAR Feature Environments
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(13), 5963; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11135963 - 26 Jun 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1009
Abstract
In the industrial environment, Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) generally run on a planned route. Among trajectory-tracking algorithms for unmanned vehicles, the Pure Pursuit (PP) algorithm is prevalent in many real-world applications because of its simple and easy implementation. However, it is challenging to [...] Read more.
In the industrial environment, Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) generally run on a planned route. Among trajectory-tracking algorithms for unmanned vehicles, the Pure Pursuit (PP) algorithm is prevalent in many real-world applications because of its simple and easy implementation. However, it is challenging to decelerate the AGV’s moving speed when turning on a large curve path. Moreover, this paper addresses the kidnapped-robot problem occurring in spare LiDAR environments. This paper proposes an improved Pure Pursuit algorithm so that the AGV can predict the trajectory and decelerate for turning, thus increasing the accuracy of the path tracking. To solve the kidnapped-robot problem, we use a learning-based classifier to detect the repetitive pattern scenario (e.g., long corridor) regarding 2D LiDAR features for switching the localization system between Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) method and Odometer method. As experimental results in practice, the improved Pure Pursuit algorithm can reduce the tracking error while performing more efficiently. Moreover, the learning-based localization selection strategy helps the robot navigation task achieve stable performance, with 36.25% in completion rate more than only using SLAM. The results demonstrate that the proposed method is feasible and reliable in actual conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Compliant Human–Robot Collaboration with Accurate Path-Tracking Ability for a Robot Manipulator
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(13), 5914; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11135914 - 25 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 909
Abstract
In this article, we aim to achieve manual guidance of a robot manipulator to perform tasks that require strict path following and would benefit from collaboration with a human to guide the motion. The robot can be used as a tool to increase [...] Read more.
In this article, we aim to achieve manual guidance of a robot manipulator to perform tasks that require strict path following and would benefit from collaboration with a human to guide the motion. The robot can be used as a tool to increase the accuracy of a human operator while remaining compliant with the human instructions. We propose a dual-loop control structure where the outer admittance control loop allows the robot to be compliant along a path considering the projection of the external force to the tangential-normal-binormal (TNB) frame associated with the path. The inner motion control loop is designed based on a modified sliding mode control (SMC) law. We evaluate the system behavior to forces applied from different directions to the end-effector of a 6-DOF industrial robot in a linear motion test. Next, a second test using a 3D path as a tracking task is conducted, where we specify three interaction types: free motion (FM), force-applied motion (FAM), and combined motion with virtual forces (CVF). Results show that the difference of root mean square error (RMSE) among the cases is less than 0.1 mm, which proves the feasibility of applying this method for various path-tracking applications in compliant human–robot collaboration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Leader-Follower Formation Control of Wheeled Mobile Robots without Attitude Measurements
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(12), 5639; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11125639 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 658
Abstract
The problem of leader-follower formation of a platoon of differential-drive wheeled mobile robots without using attitude measurements is addressed in this paper. Contrary to the position-distance approaches existing in the literature, the formation and collision avoidance is achieved by introducing a state-dependent delay [...] Read more.
The problem of leader-follower formation of a platoon of differential-drive wheeled mobile robots without using attitude measurements is addressed in this paper. Contrary to the position-distance approaches existing in the literature, the formation and collision avoidance is achieved by introducing a state-dependent delay in the desired trajectory. The delay is obtained as the output of a dynamical system and its magnitude will decrease/increase depending on the distance between the robots. To guarantee trajectory tracking and to overcome the lack of orientation measurements, an output feedback control and attitude observer are proposed based on the kinematic model of the robots. The attitude observer is designed directly on the special orthogonal group SO(2) and it can be used in open-loop schemes. The proposed control-observer scheme ensures asymptotic convergence of the tracking and observer errors. Finally, experimental results are presented to show the performance of the proposed approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Dynamic Nonprehensile Manipulation of a Moving Object Using a Batting Primitive
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(9), 3920; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11093920 - 26 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 791
Abstract
To achieve human-level object manipulation capability, a robot must be able to handle objects not only with prehensile manipulation, such as pick-and-place, but also with nonprehensile manipulation. To study nonprehensile manipulation, we studied robotic batting, a primitive form of nonprehensile manipulation. Batting is [...] Read more.
To achieve human-level object manipulation capability, a robot must be able to handle objects not only with prehensile manipulation, such as pick-and-place, but also with nonprehensile manipulation. To study nonprehensile manipulation, we studied robotic batting, a primitive form of nonprehensile manipulation. Batting is a challenging research area because it requires sophisticated and fast manipulation of moving objects and requires considerable improvement. In this paper, we designed a batting system for dynamic manipulation of a moving ball and proposed several algorithms to improve the task performance of batting. To improve the recognition accuracy of the ball, we proposed a circle-fitting method that complements color segmentation. This method enabled robust ball recognition against illumination. To accurately estimate the trajectory of the recognized ball, weighted least-squares regression considering the accuracy according to the distance of a stereo vision sensor was used for trajectory estimation, which enabled more accurate and faster trajectory estimation of the ball. Further, we analyzed the factors influencing the success rate of ball direction control and applied a constant posture control method to improve the success rate. Through the proposed methods, the ball direction control performance is improved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
The Spherical Inverted Pendulum: Exact Solutions of Gait and Foot Placement Estimation Based on Symbolic Computation
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 1588; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11041588 - 10 Feb 2021
Viewed by 677
Abstract
The gait and the Foot Placement Estimation (FPE) has recently been extended to 3-D spaces by adopting a specific form of a spherical inverted pendulum (SIP). The approach is very attractive, as it does not involve dynamics, but it is based solely on [...] Read more.
The gait and the Foot Placement Estimation (FPE) has recently been extended to 3-D spaces by adopting a specific form of a spherical inverted pendulum (SIP). The approach is very attractive, as it does not involve dynamics, but it is based solely on energies and momenta, however the authors (DeHart et al.) introduced several questionable approximations, in order to reach a manageable solution. The scope of the present paper is to revisit this spherical inverted pendulum applied to biped walking, offering an exact solution to the gait and the FPE by using symbolic computation. This is facilitated by exploiting the Kane’s approach to dynamical modelling, and his software environment for symbolic manipulation, called Autolev. It generates explicit formulas describing the energies and angular momenta before/after the impact, along with the mechanics of the impact. As the resulting equations, function of (measurable) angular positions and velocities, are very compact, embedded in a numerical nonlinear solver, are suitable to be implemented in real time and used in practice to control biped robots or lower limb exoskeletons. The two main contributions of the paper are: the recovery of the balance by stepping, in the presence of a push in an arbitrary direction and omnidirectional walking. In this last respect, this specific form of SIP emphasizes the expenditure of energy in the walk. For the first time, at our knowledge, the walk of the SIP, based on energy, has been compared to the simulation of a 12 degrees of freedom biped robot tracking preview signals using the Zero Moment Point (ZMP) of the Linear Inverted Pendulum (LIPM). This quantitatively shows the inefficiency, in terms of energy, of the ZMP-based walk, and the gain due to the recovery of the collision of the flying foot. Similarity in the sagittal plane and differences in the frontal plane of the center of mass trajectories of the two approaches are shown, to open the road to an integration of fully actuated and underactuated controls, for an efficient full-dimensional robot gait to be developed in a future paper. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Article
Automated Parking Space Allocation during Transition with both Human-Operated and Autonomous Vehicles
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(2), 855; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11020855 - 18 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 882
Abstract
As fully automated valet parking systems are being developed, there is a transition period during which both human-operated vehicles (HVs) and autonomous vehicles (AVs) are present in the same parking infrastructure. This paper addresses the problem of allocation of a parking space to [...] Read more.
As fully automated valet parking systems are being developed, there is a transition period during which both human-operated vehicles (HVs) and autonomous vehicles (AVs) are present in the same parking infrastructure. This paper addresses the problem of allocation of a parking space to an AV without conflicting with the parking space chosen by the driver of a HV. A comprehensive assessment of the key factors that affect the preference and choice of a driver for a parking space is established by the fuzzy comprehensive method. The algorithm then generates a ranking order of the available parking spaces to first predict the driver’s choice of parking space and then allocate a space for the AV. The Floyd algorithm of shortest distance is used to determine the route for the AV to reach its parking space. The proposed allocation and search algorithm is applied to the examples of a parking lot with three designed scenarios. It is shown that parking space can be reasonably allocated for AVs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Review
Advanced Applications of Industrial Robotics: New Trends and Possibilities
Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(1), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/app12010135 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2038
Abstract
This review is dedicated to the advanced applications of robotic technologies in the industrial field. Robotic solutions in areas with non-intensive applications are presented, and their implementations are analysed. We also provide an overview of survey publications and technical reports, classified by application [...] Read more.
This review is dedicated to the advanced applications of robotic technologies in the industrial field. Robotic solutions in areas with non-intensive applications are presented, and their implementations are analysed. We also provide an overview of survey publications and technical reports, classified by application criteria, and the development of the structure of existing solutions, and identify recent research gaps. The analysis results reveal the background to the existing obstacles and problems. These issues relate to the areas of psychology, human nature, special artificial intelligence (AI) implementation, and the robot-oriented object design paradigm. Analysis of robot applications shows that the existing emerging applications in robotics face technical and psychological obstacles. The results of this review revealed four directions of required advancement in robotics: development of intelligent companions; improved implementation of AI-based solutions; robot-oriented design of objects; and psychological solutions for robot–human collaboration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Review
Service Robots: Trends and Technology
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(22), 10702; https://doi.org/10.3390/app112210702 - 12 Nov 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1900
Abstract
The 2021 sales volume in the market of service robots is attractive. Expert reports from the International Federation of Robotics confirm 27 billion USD in total market share. Moreover, the number of new startups with the denomination of service robots nowadays constitutes 29% [...] Read more.
The 2021 sales volume in the market of service robots is attractive. Expert reports from the International Federation of Robotics confirm 27 billion USD in total market share. Moreover, the number of new startups with the denomination of service robots nowadays constitutes 29% of the total amount of robotic companies recorded in the United States. Those data, among other similar figures, remark the need for formal development in the service robots area, including knowledge transfer and literature reviews. Furthermore, the COVID-19 spread accelerated business units and some research groups to invest time and effort into the field of service robotics. Therefore, this research work intends to contribute to the formalization of service robots as an area of robotics, presenting a systematic review of scientific literature. First, a definition of service robots according to fundamental ontology is provided, followed by a detailed review covering technological applications; state-of-the-art, commercial technology; and application cases indexed on the consulted databases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Review
Research Progress on Synergistic Technologies of Agricultural Multi-Robots
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 1448; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11041448 - 05 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1223
Abstract
Multi-robots have shown good application prospects in agricultural production. Studying the synergistic technologies of agricultural multi-robots can not only improve the efficiency of the overall robot system and meet the needs of precision farming but also solve the problems of decreasing effective labor [...] Read more.
Multi-robots have shown good application prospects in agricultural production. Studying the synergistic technologies of agricultural multi-robots can not only improve the efficiency of the overall robot system and meet the needs of precision farming but also solve the problems of decreasing effective labor supply and increasing labor costs in agriculture. Therefore, starting from the point of view of an agricultural multiple robot system architectures, this paper reviews the representative research results of five synergistic technologies of agricultural multi-robots in recent years, namely, environment perception, task allocation, path planning, formation control, and communication, and summarizes the technological progress and development characteristics of these five technologies. Finally, because of these development characteristics, it is shown that the trends and research focus for agricultural multi-robots are to optimize the existing technologies and apply them to a variety of agricultural multi-robots, such as building a hybrid architecture of multi-robot systems, SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping), cooperation learning of robots, hybrid path planning and formation reconstruction. While synergistic technologies of agricultural multi-robots are extremely challenging in production, in combination with previous research results for real agricultural multi-robots and social development demand, we conclude that it is realistic to expect automated multi-robot systems in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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Review
6D Pose Estimation of Objects: Recent Technologies and Challenges
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(1), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11010228 - 29 Dec 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2225
Abstract
6D pose estimation is a common and important task in industry. Obtaining the 6D pose of objects is the basis for many other functions such as bin picking, autopilot, etc. Therefore, many corresponding studies have been made in order to improve the accuracy [...] Read more.
6D pose estimation is a common and important task in industry. Obtaining the 6D pose of objects is the basis for many other functions such as bin picking, autopilot, etc. Therefore, many corresponding studies have been made in order to improve the accuracy and enlarge the range of application of various approaches. After several years of development, the methods of 6D pose estimation have been enriched and improved. Although some predecessors have analyzed the methods and summarized them in detailed, there have been many new breakthroughs in recent years. To understand 6D pose estimation better, this paper will make a new and more detailed review of 6D pose estimation. We divided these methods into two approaches: Learning-based approaches and non-learning-based approaches, including 2D-information-based approach and 3D-information-based approach. Additionally, we introduce the challenges that exist in 6D pose estimation. Finally, we compare the performance of different methods qualitatively and discuss the future development trends of the 6D pose estimation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Trends and Challenges in Robotic Applications)
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