TechTalks from event: Technical session talks from ICRA 2012

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Parts Handling and Manipulation

  • Design of Parts Handling and Gear Assembling Device Authors: Yamaguchi, Kengo; Hirata, Yasuhisa; Kaisumi, Aya; Kosuge, Kazuhiro
    Many one-degree-of-freedom (1-DOF) grippers have been used in factories. This paper focuses on the design of the 1-DOF parts handling device for picking up small objects robustly and agilely and realizing assembly tasks. In our conventional research, we proposed a concept for the handling device, which cages an object without letting the object escape from its tips before closing them completely and then grasps the object robustly at a unique position of the tips. In this paper, we propose a method for designing the shape of the device's tips by considering not only the caging and self-alignment of the object but also the gear assembly task. We also develop the robust and agile pick-up device (RAPiD) with tips designed by the new method and present experimental results that illustrate the ability of RAPiD to handle and assemble gears.
  • Optimal Admittance Characteristics for Planar Force-Assembly of Convex Polygonal Parts Authors: Wiemer, Steven; Schimmels, Joseph
    Robots are not typically used for assembly tasks in which positioning requirements exceed robot capabilities. To address this limitation, a significant amount of work has been directed toward identifying desirable mechanical behavior of a robot for force-guided assembly. Most of this work has been directed toward the `standard' peg-in-hole assembly problem. Little has been done to identify the specific behavior necessary for reliable assembly for different types of polygonal parts, and little has been done relating assembly characteristics to classes of part geometries. This paper presents the best passive admittance and associated maximum coefficient of friction for planar force-assembly of a variety of different polygonal parts, specifically pegs with rectangular, trapezoidal, triangular, and pentagonal cross sections. The results show that force-guided assembly can be reliably achieved at higher values of friction when parts are shorter and wider. For all geometries considered, force-guided assembly is ensured for any value of friction less than 0.8 when the optimal admittance is used; and, for some geometries, for any value of friction less than 15.
  • The Effect of Anisotropic Friction on Vibratory Velocity Fields Authors: Umbanhowar, Paul; Vose, Thomas; Mitani, Atsushi; Hirai, Shinichi; Lynch, Kevin
    This paper explores the role of anisotropic friction properties in vibratory parts manipulation. We show that direction-dependent surface friction properties can be used in conjunction with a vibrating plate to help design friction-induced velocity fields on the surface of the plate. Theoretical, simulation, and experimental results are presented quantifying the anisotropic friction effects of textured surfaces such as micromachined silicon and fabrics.
  • Sparse Spatial Coding: A Novel Approach for Efficient and Accurate Object Recognition Authors: Leivas, Gabriel; Nascimento, Erickson; Wilson Vieira, Antonio; Campos, Mario Montenegro
    Successful state-of-the-art object recognition techniques from images have been based on powerful methods, such as sparse representation, in order to replace the also popular vector quantization (VQ) approach. Recently, sparse coding, which is characterized by representing a signal in a sparse space, has raised the bar on several object recognition benchmarks. However, one serious drawback of sparse space based methods is that similar local features can be quantized into different visual words. We present in this paper a new method, called Sparse Spatial Coding (SSC), which combines a sparse coding dictionary learning, a spatial constraint coding stage and an online classification method to improve object recognition. An efficient new off-line classification algorithm is also presented. We overcome the problem of techniques which make use of sparse representation alone by generating the final representation with SSC and max pooling, presented for an online learning classifier. Experimental results obtained on the Caltech 101, Caltech 256, Corel 5000 and Corel 10000 databases, show that, to the best of our knowledge, our approach supersedes in accuracy the best published results to date on the same databases. As an extension, we also show high performance results on the MIT-67 indoor scene recognition dataset.
  • Humanoid's Dual Arm Object Manipulation Based on Virtual Dynamics Model Authors: Shin, Sung Yul; Lee, Jun won; Kim, ChangHwan
    In order to implement promising robot applications in our daily lives, robots need to perform manipulation tasks within the human environments. Especially for a humanoid robot, it is essential to manipulate a variety of objects with different shapes and sizes to assist humans in the human environments. This paper presents a method of manipulating objects with humanoid robot's dual arms. The robot is usually asked to control both the motion and force to manipulate the objects. We propose a novel concept of control method based on the virtual dynamics model (VDM), which enables the robot to perform both tasks of reaching to an object and grasping it under the uniform control system. Furthermore, the impedance model based on the VDM controller also enables the robot to safely grasp an object by reducing the impact at the contact point. The proposed algorithm is implemented on the humanoid robot, Mahru, with independent joint controller at each motor. Its performance is demonstrated by manipulating different types of objects.
  • A Kernel-Based Approach to Direct Action Perception Authors: Kroemer, Oliver; Ugur, Emre; Oztop, Erhan; Peters, Jan
    The direct perception of actions allows a robot to predict the afforded actions of observed objects. In this paper, we present a non-parametric approach to representing the affordance-bearing subparts of objects. This representation forms the basis of a kernel function for computing the similarity between different subparts. Using this kernel function, together with motor primitive actions, the robot can learn the required mappings to perform direct action perception. The proposed approach was successfully implemented on a real robot, which could then quickly learn to generalize grasping and pouring actions to novel objects.

Space Robotics

  • Automatic Rock Recognition from Drilling Performance Data Authors: Zhou, Hang; Hatherly, Peter; Monteiro, Sildomar; Ramos, Fabio; Oppolzer, Florian; Nettleton, Eric; Scheding, Steven
    Automated rock recognition is a key step for building a fully autonomous mine. When characterizing rock types from drill performance data, the main challenge is that there is not an obvious one-to-one correspondence between the two. In this paper, a hybrid rock recognition approach is proposed which combines Gaussian Process (GP) regression with clustering. Drill performance data is also known as Measurement While Drilling (MWD) data and a rock hardness measure - Adjusted Penetration Rate (APR) is extracted using the raw data in discrete drill holes. GP regression is then applied to create a more dense APR distribution, followed by clustering which produces discrete class labels. No initial labeling is needed. Comparisons are made with alternative measures of rock hardness from MWD data as well as state-of-the-art GP classification. Experimental results from an actual mine site show the effectiveness of our proposed approach.
  • Evaluation of the Reconfiguration Effects of Planetary Rovers on their Lateral Traversing of Sandy Slopes Authors: Inotsume, Hiroaki; Sutoh, Masataku; Nagatani, Keiji; Yoshida, Kazuya
    Rovers that are used to explore craters on the Moon or Mars require the mobility to negotiate sandy slopes, on which slippage can easily occur. Such slippage can be reduced by actively readjusting the attitude of the rovers. By changing attitude, rovers can modify the position of their center of gravity and the wheel-soil contact angle. In this study, we discuss the effects of attitude changes on downhill sideslip based on the slope failure mechanism and experiments on reconfiguring the rover attitude and wheel angles. We conducted slope-traversing experiments using a wheeled rover under various roll angles and wheel angles. The experimental results show that the contact angle between wheels and slopes has a dominant influence on sideslip when compared with that of readjusting the rover's center of gravity.
  • Evaluation of Influence of Surface Shape of Locomotion Mechanism on Traveling Performance of Planetary Rovers Authors: Sutoh, Masataku; Nagaoka, Kenji; Nagatani, Keiji; Yoshida, Kazuya
    The surfaces of both the Moon and Mars are covered with loose soil, with numerous steep slopes along their crater rims. Therefore, one of the most important requirements imposed on planetary rovers is their ability to minimize slippage while climbing steep slopes, i.e., the ability to generate a drawbar pull with only a small amount of slippage. To this end, the wheels/tracks of planetary rovers typically have parallel fins called lugs (i.e., grousers) on their surface. Recent studies have reported that these lugs can substantially improve the traveling performances of planetary rovers. Therefore, in this study, we conducted experiments using lightweight two-wheeled and mono-tracked rovers to provide a quantitative confirmation regarding the influence of lugs on the traveling performances of planetary rovers. Based on our experimental results, we confirmed that, although an increase in the number of lugs contributes to the high traveling performance of wheeled rovers, it does not contribute much to that of tracked rovers. Furthermore, an increase in lug height improves the traveling performances of both types of rovers.
  • The Robonaut 2 Hand Designed to Do Work with Tools Authors: Bridgwater, Lyndon; Ihrke, Chris; Diftler, Myron; Abdallah, Muhammad; Radford, Nicolaus; Rogers, Jonathan; yayathi, Sandeep; Askew, Roger, Scott; Linn, Marty
    The second generation Robonaut hand has many advantages over its predecessor. This mechatronic device is more dexterous and has improved force control and sensing giving it the capability to grasp and actuate a wider range of tools. It can achieve higher peak forces at higher speeds than the original. Developed as part of a partnership between General Motors and NASA, the hand is designed to more closely approximate a human hand. Having a more anthropomorphic design allows the hand to attain a larger set of useful grasps for working with human interfaces. Key to the hands improved performance is the use of lower friction drive elements and a redistribution of components from the hand to the forearm, permitting more sensing in the fingers and palm where it is most important. The following describes the design, mechanical/electrical integration, and control features of the hand. Lessons learned during the development and initial operations along with planned refinements to make it more effective are presented.
  • Autonomous Detection of Volcanic Plumes on Outer Planetary Bodies Authors: Lin, Yucong; Bunte, Melissa; Saripalli, Srikanth; Greeley, Ronald
    We experimentally evaluated the efficacy of var- ious autonomous supervised classification techniques for de- tecting transient geophysical phenomena. We demonstrated methods of detecting volcanic plumes on the planetary satellites Io and Enceladus using spacecraft images from the Voyager, Galileo, New Horizons, and Cassini missions. We successfully detected 73-95% of known plumes in images from all four mission datasets. We increased the detection rate by using a training subset. Additionally, we showed that the same tech- niques are applicable to differentiating geologic features, such as plumes and mountains, which exhibit similar appearances in images.
  • Gravity-Independent Mobility and Drilling on Natural Rock Using Microspines Authors: Parness, Aaron; Frost, Matthew; Thatte, Nitish; King, Jonathan
    To grip rocks on the surfaces of asteroids and comets, and to grip the cliff faces and lava tubes of Mars, a 250 mm diameter omni-directional anchor is presented that utilizes a hierarchical array of claws with suspension flexures, called microspines, to create fast, strong attachment. Prototypes have been demonstrated on vesicular basalt and a‘a lava rock supporting forces in all directions away from the rock. Each anchor can support >160 N tangent, >150 N at 45, and >180 N normal to the surface of the rock. A two-actuator selectively-compliant ankle interfaces these anchors to the Lemur IIB robot for climbing trials. A rotary percussive drill was also integrated into the anchor, demonstrating self-contained rock coring regardless of gravitational orientation. As a harder-than-zero-g proof of concept, 20mm diameter boreholes were drilled 83 mm deep in vesicular basalt samples, retaining a 12 mm diameter rock core in 3-6 pieces while in an inverted configuration, literally drilling into the ceiling.

Stochastic in Robotics and Biological Systems

  • Low-Cost Collaborative Localization for Large-Scale Multi-Robot Systems Authors: Prorok, Amanda; Bahr, Alexander; Martinoli, Alcherio
    Large numbers of collaborating robots are advantageous for solving distributed problems. In order to efficiently solve the task at hand, the robots often need accurate localization. In this work, we address the localization problem by developing a solution that has low computational and sensing requirements, and that is easily deployed on large robot teams composed of cheap robots. We build upon a real-time, particle-filter based localization algorithm that is completely decentralized and scalable, and accommodates realistic robot assumptions including noisy sensors, and asynchronous and lossy communication. In order to further reduce this algorithm’s overall complexity, we propose a low-cost particle clustering method, which is particularly well suited to the collaborative localization problem. Our approach is experimentally validated on a team of ten real robots.
  • Robotic Manifold Tracking of Coherent Structures in Flows Authors: Hsieh, M. Ani; Forgoston, Eric; Mather, T, William; Schwartz, Ira
    Tracking Lagrangian coherent structures in dynamical systems is important for many applications such as oceanography and weather prediction. In this paper, we present a collaborative robotic control strategy designed to track stable and unstable manifolds. The technique does not require global information about the fluid dynamics, and is based on local sensing, prediction, and correction. The collaborative control strategy is implemented on a team of three robots to track coherent structures and manifolds on static flows as well as a noisy time-dependent model of a wind-driven double-gyre often seen in the ocean. We present simulation and experimental results and discuss theoretical guarantees of the collaborative tracking strategy.
  • Ensemble Synthesis of Distributed Control and Communication Strategies Authors: Mather, T, William; Hsieh, M. Ani
    We present an ensemble framework for the design of distributed control and communication strategies for the dynamic allocation of a team of robots to a set of tasks. In this work, we assume individual robot controllers are sequentially composed of individual task controllers. This assumption enables the representation of the robot ensemble dynamics as a class of stochastic hybrid systems that can be modeled as continuous-time Markov jump processes where feedback strategies can be derived to control the team's distribution across the tasks. Since the distributed implementation of these feedback strategy requires the estimation of certain population variables, we show how the ensemble model can be expanded to incorporate the dynamics of the information exchange. This then enables us to optimize the individual robot control policies to ensure overall system robustness given some likelihood of resource failures. We consider the assignment of a team of homogeneous robots to a collection of spatially distributed tasks and validate our approach via high-fidelity simulations.
  • Almost-Uniform Sampling of Rotations for Conformational Searches in Robotics and Structural Biology Authors: Yan, Yan; Chirikjian, Gregory
    We propose a new method for sampling the rotation group that involves decomposing it into identical Voronoi cells centered on rotational symmetry operations of the Platonic solids. Within each cell, Cartesian coordinates in exponential coordinates are used to achieve almost-uniform sampling at any level of resolution, without having to store large numbers of coordinates, and without requiring sophisticated data structures. We analyze the shape of these cells, and explain how this can be used in the context of conformational searches in the fields of Robotics and Structural Biology.
  • Randomly Distributed Delayed Communication and Coherent Swarm Patterns Authors: Lindley, Brandon; Mier-Y-Teran-Romero, Luis; Schwartz, Ira
    Previously we showed how delay communication between globally coupled self-propelled agents causes new spatio-temporal patterns to arise when the delay coupling is fixed among all agents [1]. In this paper, we show how discrete, randomly distributed delays affect the dynamical patterns. In particular, we investigate how the standard deviation of the time delay distribution affects the stability of the different patterns as well as the switching probability between coherent states. [1] E. Forgoston and I. Schwartz, “Delay-induced instabilities in selfpropelling swarms,” Phy. Rev. E, vol. 77, 2008.
  • Real-Time Automated Modeling and Control of Self-Assembling Systems Authors: Mermoud, Gregory; Mastrangeli, Massimo; Upadhyay, Utkarsh; Martinoli, Alcherio
    We present the M<sup>3</sup> framework, a formal and generic computational framework for modeling and controlling stochastic distributed systems of purely reactive robots in an automated and real-time fashion. Based on the trajectories of the robots, the framework builds up an internal microscopic representation of the system, which then serves as a blueprint of models at higher abstraction levels. These models are then calibrated using a Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE) approach. We illustrate the structure and performance of the framework by performing the online optimization of a simple bang-bang controller for the stochastic self-assembly of water-floating passive modules. The experimental results demonstrate that the generated models can successfully optimize the assembly of desired structures.