Special Issue "Advances in Italian Robotics"

A special issue of Robotics (ISSN 2218-6581).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Giulio Rosati
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Padova, Italy
Interests: industrial robotics; robot and mechanism design and control; cable-driven robots; haptics; rehabilitation robotics; medical robotics
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Giovanni Boschetti
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padova, Italy
Interests: industrial robotics; robot and mechanism design; cable-driven robots
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Carbone
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
DIMEG, University of Calabria, Italy
Interests: robot and mechanism design; humanoid and service robotics; optimization strategies; grasping devices
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nowadays, robotics is developing at a much faster pace than ever in the past, both inside and outside industrial environments. Service robotics, surgical and rehabilitation robotics, assistive robotics, and other novel application fields are becoming more and more significant, not only from technological and economical viewpoints, but also in terms of their daily life and social implications. Even the implementation and role of robots in production lines and other traditional frames is being widely revised, since robots are rapidly changing from slave devices to cyber-physical systems in the industry 4.0 framework. In this context, research on robot mechanics, modelling, design, and control is going to play an increasingly central role.

This Special Issue aims at disseminating the latest research achievements, findings, and ideas in the robotics field, with particular attention to the Italian scenario. This Issue will include revised and substantially extended versions of selected papers that have been presented at the 2nd International Conference of IFToMM Italy (IFIT 2018). However, we are also strongly encouraging the submission of additional contributions from researchers working in this field who did not participate to the IFIT 2018 Conference, in order to further widen the field coverage.

Papers are welcome on topics that are related to theory, design, practice, and applications of robots, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Robot design and kinematics
  • Dynamics of robots and multi-body systems
  • Linkages and manipulators
  • Control of robotic systems
  • Trajectory planning and optimization
  • Innovative robots and applications
  • Industrial robotics
  • Collaborative robotics
  • Medical robotics (surgery, rehabilitation)
  • Assistive robotics
  • Haptics
  • Micro-robots
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Service robotics

 
Prof. Dr. Giulio Rosati
Prof. Dr. Giovanni Boschetti
Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Carbone
Guest Editors

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 papers will be 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. Robotics is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly 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 1000 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.

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Advances in Mechanical Systems Dynamics
Robotics 2020, 9(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics9010012 - 09 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Nowadays, robotics is developing at a much faster pace than ever in the past, both inside and outside industrial environments [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics) Printed Edition available

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Design of Multiple Wearable Robotic Extra Fingers for Human Hand Augmentation
Robotics 2019, 8(4), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8040102 - 11 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Augmenting the human hand with robotic extra fingers is a cutting-edge research topic and has many potential applications, in particular as a compensatory and rehabilitation tool for patients with upper limb impairments. Devices composed of two extra fingers are preferred with respect to [...] Read more.
Augmenting the human hand with robotic extra fingers is a cutting-edge research topic and has many potential applications, in particular as a compensatory and rehabilitation tool for patients with upper limb impairments. Devices composed of two extra fingers are preferred with respect to single finger devices when reliable grasps, resistance to external disturbances, and higher payloads are required. Underactuation and compliance are design choices that can reduce the device complexity and weight, maintaining the adaptability to different grasped objects. When only one motor is adopted to actuate multiple fingers, a differential mechanism is necessary to decouple finger movements and distribute forces. In this paper, the main features of a wearable device composed of two robotic extra fingers are described and analyzed in terms of kinematics, statics, and mechanical resistance. Each finger is composed of modular phalanges and is actuated with a single tendon. Interphalangeal joints include a passive elastic element that allows restoring the initial reference configuration when the tendon is released. The stiffness of each passive element can be customized in the manufacturing process and can be chosen according to a desired closure movement of the fingers. Another key aspect of the device is the differential system connecting the actuator to the fingers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Trajectory Optimization of a Redundant Serial Robot Using Cartesian via Points and Kinematic Decoupling
Robotics 2019, 8(4), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8040101 - 09 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Moving from a given position to another with an industrial robot can be a challenging problem when the task is redundant around the tool axis. In this case, there are infinite ways of choosing both the starting and the ending configurations, so that [...] Read more.
Moving from a given position to another with an industrial robot can be a challenging problem when the task is redundant around the tool axis. In this case, there are infinite ways of choosing both the starting and the ending configurations, so that the movement between the given points is not uniquely defined. In this paper, an algorithm that calculates the suboptimal movement between two positions is proposed, which automatically generates a cloud of safe via points around the workpiece and then by exploiting such points finds the suboptimal safe path between the two positions that minimizes movement time. The proposed method, in which the search of the suboptimal path is based on graph theory and the Dijkstra algorithm, can iteratively evaluate a high number of starting and ending configurations in low computational time, allowing performing a reasonably wide search of the suboptimal path within the infinite possible motions between the given points. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Quantifying Age-Related Differences of Ankle Mechanical Properties Using a Robotic Device
Robotics 2019, 8(4), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8040096 - 13 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
A deep analysis of ankle mechanical properties is a fundamental step in the design of an exoskeleton, especially if it is to be suitable for both adults and children. This study aims at assessing age-related differences of ankle properties using pediAnklebot. To achieve [...] Read more.
A deep analysis of ankle mechanical properties is a fundamental step in the design of an exoskeleton, especially if it is to be suitable for both adults and children. This study aims at assessing age-related differences of ankle properties using pediAnklebot. To achieve this aim, we enrolled 16 young adults and 10 children in an experimental protocol that consisted of the evaluation of ankle mechanical impedance and kinematic performance. Ankle impedance was measured by imposing stochastic torque perturbations in dorsi-plantarflexion and inversion-eversion directions. Kinematic performance was assessed by asking participants to perform a goal-directed task. Magnitude and anisotropy of impedance were computed using a multiple-input multiple-output system. Kinematic performance was quantified by computing indices of accuracy, smoothness, and timing. Adults showed greater magnitude of ankle impedance in both directions and for all frequencies, while the anisotropy was higher in children. By analyzing kinematics, children performed movements with lower accuracy and higher smoothness, while no differences were found for the duration of the movement. In addition, adults showed a greater ability to stop the movement when hitting the target. These findings can be useful to a proper development of robotic devices, as well as for implementation of specific training programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Control of the Sit-To-Stand Transfer of a Biped Robotic Device for Postural Rehabilitation
Robotics 2019, 8(4), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8040091 - 23 Oct 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This paper deals with the control of the sit-to-stand transfer of a biped robotic device (either an autonomous biped robot or a haptic assistive exoskeleton for postural rehabilitation). The control has been synthesized, instead of considering the physiology, analyzing the basic laws of [...] Read more.
This paper deals with the control of the sit-to-stand transfer of a biped robotic device (either an autonomous biped robot or a haptic assistive exoskeleton for postural rehabilitation). The control has been synthesized, instead of considering the physiology, analyzing the basic laws of dynamics. The transfer of a human from sitting on a chair to an erect posture is an interesting case study, because it treats biped balance in a two-phase dynamic setting, with an external force disturbance (the chair–pelvis contact) affecting the center of pressure under the feet. At the beginning, a body is sitting, with a fixed pelvis moving with the hips going toward the supporting feet and, contemporaneously, releasing the load from the chair with ankles and knee torques. Then, after lift-off, it reaches and maintains an erect posture. The paper objectives are threefold: identifying the major dynamical determinants of the exercise; sythesizing an automatic control for an autonomous device; proposing an innovative approach for the rehabilitation process with an exoskeleton. For this last objective, the paper extends the idea of the authors of a haptic exoskeleton for rehabilitation. It is driven to control the joints by electromiographical signals from the patient. The two spaces, cartesian (world) and joint, where, respectively, the automatic control and the patient operate, are considered and a technique to blend the two actions is proposed. The exoskeleton is programed to perform the exercise autonomously. Then, during the evolution of the phases of rehabilitation, we postulated to seamlessly move the control from one space (purely autonomous) to another (completely driven by the patient), choosing and keeping the postural tasks and joints (heaps, knees, or ankles) on which to apply each one of the two actions without interaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Estimation and Closed-Loop Control of COG/ZMP in Biped Devices Blending CoP Measures and Kinematic Information
Robotics 2019, 8(4), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8040089 - 22 Oct 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The zero moment point ( Z M P ) and the linearized inverted pendulum model linking the Z M P to the center of gravity ( C O G ) have an important role in the control of the postural equilibrium (balance) of [...] Read more.
The zero moment point ( Z M P ) and the linearized inverted pendulum model linking the Z M P to the center of gravity ( C O G ) have an important role in the control of the postural equilibrium (balance) of biped robots and lower-limb exoskeletons. A solution for balance real time control, closing the loop from the joint actual values of the C O G and Z M P , has been proposed by Choi. However, this approach cannot be practically implemented: While the Z M P actual value is available from the center of pressure ( C o P ) measured under the feet soles, the C O G is not measurable, but it can only be indirectly assessed from the joint-angle measures, the knowledge of the kinematics, and the usually poorly known weight distribution of the links of the chain. Finally, the possible presence of unknown external disturbance forces and the nonlinear, complex nature of the kinematics perturb the simple relationship between the Z M P and C O G in the linearized model. The aim of this paper is to offer, starting from Choi’s model, a practical implementation of closed-loop balance control fusing C o P and joint-angle measures, eliminating possible inconsistencies. In order to achieve this result, we introduce a model of the linearized inverted pendulum for an extended estimation, not only of C O G and Z M P , but also of external disturbances. This model is then used, instead of Choi’s equations, for estimation and balance control, using H theory. As the C O G information is recovered from the joint-angle measures, the identification of a statistically equivalent serial chain ( S E S C ) linking the C O G to the joint angles is also discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of the Compliance Properties of an Industrial Robot with the Mozzi Axis Approach
Robotics 2019, 8(3), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8030080 - 11 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In robotic processes, the compliance of the robot arm plays a very important role. In some conditions, for example, in robotic assembly, robot arm compliance can compensate for small position and orientation errors of the end-effector. In other processes, like machining, robot compliance [...] Read more.
In robotic processes, the compliance of the robot arm plays a very important role. In some conditions, for example, in robotic assembly, robot arm compliance can compensate for small position and orientation errors of the end-effector. In other processes, like machining, robot compliance may generate chatter vibrations with an impairment in the quality of the machined surface. In industrial robots, the compliance of the end-effector is chiefly due to joint compliances. In this paper, joint compliances of a serial six-joint industrial robot are identified with a novel modal method making use of specific modes of vibration dominated by the compliance of only one joint. Then, in order to represent the effect of the identified compliances on robot performance in an intuitive and geometric way, a novel kinematic method based on the concept of “Mozzi axis” of the end-effector is presented and discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Optimization of a Kitting Line: A Case Study
Robotics 2019, 8(3), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8030070 - 07 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Assembly kitting lines typically deal with components that present different quantities in the final kit. Re-configurable feeders are not advisable for low quantity components since this solution leads to high inefficiency, due to the time required for retooling and for the feeding rate [...] Read more.
Assembly kitting lines typically deal with components that present different quantities in the final kit. Re-configurable feeders are not advisable for low quantity components since this solution leads to high inefficiency, due to the time required for retooling and for the feeding rate unbalance between the components. On the other hand a fully flexible feeder can increase the flexibility of the system at the cost of reducing the throughput. An assembly kitting problem was therefore addressed in different ways for low quantity components and high quantity components, studying the two different subsystems that compose a hybrid flexible assembly system. To optimize the re-configurable feeders, which supply the high quantity components, the opening sequence of a system composed by several hoppers was analyzed. We propose a solution which replaces the weighing device with a vision inspection system, showing its impact on the productivity of the line. A model coded into a Matlab script was developed to perform the optimization of the system and understand its behavior. Furthermore a fully flexible assembly system was developed in the laboratory in order to test the kitting of the low quantity components with the proposed subsystem. Finally the Overall Equipment Effectiveness of the line was calculated to evaluate the possible improvements obtained by the proposed solution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Mechanical and Control Design of an Industrial Exoskeleton for Advanced Human Empowering in Heavy Parts Manipulation Tasks
Robotics 2019, 8(3), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8030065 - 02 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Exoskeleton robots are a rising technology in industrial contexts to assist humans in onerous applications. Mechanical and control design solutions are intensively investigated to achieve a high performance human-robot collaboration (e.g., transparency, ergonomics, safety, etc.). However, the most of the investigated solutions involve [...] Read more.
Exoskeleton robots are a rising technology in industrial contexts to assist humans in onerous applications. Mechanical and control design solutions are intensively investigated to achieve a high performance human-robot collaboration (e.g., transparency, ergonomics, safety, etc.). However, the most of the investigated solutions involve high-cost hardware, complex design solutions and standard actuation. Moreover, state-of-the-art empowering controllers do not allow for online assistance regulation and do not embed advanced safety rules. In the presented work, an industrial exoskeleton with high payload ratio for lifting and transportation of heavy parts is proposed. A low-cost mechanical design solution is described, exploiting compliant actuation at the shoulder joint to increase safety in human-robot cooperation. A hierarchic model-based controller with embedded safety rules is then proposed (including the modeling of the compliant actuator) to actively assist the human while executing the task. An inner optimal controller is proposed for trajectory tracking, while an outer safety-based fuzzy logic controller is proposed to online deform the task trajectory on the basis of the human’s intention of motion. A gain scheduler is also designed to calculate the inner optimal control gains on the basis of the performed trajectory. Simulations have been performed in order to validate the performance of the proposed device, showing promising results. The prototype is under realization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Italian Robotics) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
A Tactile-Based Wire Manipulation System for Manufacturing Applications
Robotics 2019, 8(2), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8020046 - 12 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
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) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Upside-Down Robots: Modeling and Experimental Validation of Magnetic-Adhesion Mobile Systems
Robotics 2019, 8(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8020041 - 31 May 2019
Cited by 4
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
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Open AccessArticle
On a Two-DoF Parallel and Orthogonal Variable-Stiffness Actuator: An Innovative Kinematic Architecture
Robotics 2019, 8(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8020039 - 27 May 2019
Cited by 1
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
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Voltage Dips on Robotic Grasping
Robotics 2019, 8(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8020028 - 11 Apr 2019
Cited by 2
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
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Human–Robot Collaboration in Manufacturing Applications: A Review
Robotics 2019, 8(4), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8040100 - 06 Dec 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
This paper provides an overview of collaborative robotics towards manufacturing applications. Over the last decade, the market has seen the introduction of a new category of robots—collaborative robots (or “cobots”)—designed to physically interact with humans in a shared environment, without the typical barriers [...] Read more.
This paper provides an overview of collaborative robotics towards manufacturing applications. Over the last decade, the market has seen the introduction of a new category of robots—collaborative robots (or “cobots”)—designed to physically interact with humans in a shared environment, without the typical barriers or protective cages used in traditional robotics systems. Their potential is undisputed, especially regarding their flexible ability to make simple, quick, and cheap layout changes; however, it is necessary to have adequate knowledge of their correct uses and characteristics to obtain the advantages of this form of robotics, which can be a barrier for industry uptake. The paper starts with an introduction of human–robot collaboration, presenting the related standards and modes of operation. An extensive literature review of works published in this area is undertaken, with particular attention to the main industrial cases of application. The paper concludes with an analysis of the future trends in human–robot collaboration as determined by the authors. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Survey of Behavioral Models for Social Robots
Robotics 2019, 8(3), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8030054 - 09 Jul 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The cooperation between humans and robots is becoming increasingly important in our society. Consequently, there is a growing interest in the development of models that can enhance and enrich the interaction between humans and robots. A key challenge in the Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) [...] Read more.
The cooperation between humans and robots is becoming increasingly important in our society. Consequently, there is a growing interest in the development of models that can enhance and enrich the interaction between humans and robots. A key challenge in the Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) field is to provide robots with cognitive and affective capabilities, by developing architectures that let them establish empathetic relationships with users. Over the last several years, multiple models were proposed to face this open-challenge. This work provides a survey of the most relevant attempts/works. In details, it offers an overview of the architectures present in literature focusing on three specific aspects of HRI: the development of adaptive behavioral models, the design of cognitive architectures, and the ability to establish empathy with the user. The research was conducted within two databases: Scopus and Web of Science. Accurate exclusion criteria were applied to screen the 4916 articles found. At the end, 56 articles were selected. For each work, an evaluation of the model is made. Pros and cons of each work are detailed by analyzing the aspects that can be improved to establish an enjoyable interaction between robots and users. Full article
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