TechTalks from event: Technical session talks from ICRA 2012

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Micro and Nano Robots II

  • Motion Control of Tetrahymena Pyriformis Cells with Artificial Magnetotaxis: Model Predictive Control (MPC) Approach Authors: Ou, Yan; Kim, Dal Hyung; Kim, Paul; Kim, MinJun; Julius, Agung
    The use of live microbial cells as microscale robots is an attractive premise, primarily because they are easy to produce and to fuel. In this paper, we study the motion control of magnetotactic Tetrahymena pyriformis cells. Magnetotactic T. pyriformis is produced by introducing artificial magnetic dipole into the cells. Subsequently, they can be steered by using an external magnetic field. We observe that the external magnetic field can only be used to affect the swimming direction of the cells, while the swimming velocity depends largely on the cells’ own propulsion. Feedback information for control is obtained from a computer vision system that tracks the cell. The contribution of this paper is twofold. First, we construct a discrete-time model for the cell dynamics that is based on first principle. Subsequently, we identify the model parameters using the Least Squares approach. Second, we formulate a model predictive approach for feedback control of magnetotactic T. pyriformis. Both the model fitness and the performance of the feedback controller are verified using experimental data.
  • Robust H-Infinity Control for Electromagnetic Steering of Microrobots Authors: Marino, Hamal; Bergeles, Christos; Nelson, Bradley J.
    Electromagnetic systems for in vivo microrobot steering have the potential to enable new types of localized and minimally invasive interventions. Accurate control of microrobots in natural fluids requires precise, high-bandwidth localization and accurate knowledge of the steering system’s parameters. However, current in vivo imaging methodologies, such as fluoroscopy, must be used at low update rates to minimize radiation exposure. Low frame rates introduce localization uncertainties. Additionally, the parameters of the electromagnetic steering system are estimated with inaccuracies. These uncertainties can be addressed with robust H-infinity control, which is investigated in this paper. The controller is based on a linear uncertain dynamical model of the steering system and microrobot. Simulations show that the proposed control scheme accounts for modeling uncertainties, and that the controller can be used for servoing in low viscosity fluids using low frame rates. Experiments in a prototype electromagnetic steering system support the simulations.
  • Magnetic Dragging of Vascular Obstructions by Means of Electrostatic and Antibody Binding Authors: Khorami Llewellyn, Maral; Dario, Paolo; Menciassi, Arianna; Sinibaldi, Edoardo
    Exploitation of miniature robots and microrobots for endovascular therapeutics is a promising approach; besides chemical strategies (typically systemic), topical mechanical approaches exist for obstruction removal, which however produce harmful debris for blood circulation. Magnetic particles (MPs) are also studied for blood clot targeting. We investigated magnetic dragging of clots/debris by means of both electrostatic and antibody binding. We successfully produced magnetotactic blood clots in vitro and experimentally showed that they can be effectively dragged within a fluidic channel. We also exploited a magnetic force model in order to quantitatively analyze the experimental results, up to obtaining an estimate of the relative efficiency between electrostatic and antibody binding. Our study takes a first step towards more realistic in vivo investigations, in view of integration into microrobotic approaches to vascular obstructions removal.
  • Coordination of Droplets on Light-Actuated Digital Microfluidic Systems Authors: Ma, Zhiqiang; Akella, Srinivas
    In this paper we explore the problem of coordinating multiple droplets in light-actuated digital microfluidic systems intended for use as lab-on-a-chip systems. In a light actuated digital microfluidic system, droplets of chemicals are actuated on a photosensitive chip by moving projected light patterns. Our goal is to perform automated manipulation of multiple droplets in parallel on a microfluidic platform. To achieve collision-free droplet coordination while optimizing completion times, we apply multiple robot coordination techniques. We present a mixed integer linear programming formulation for coordinating droplets given their paths. This approach permits arbitrary droplet formations, and coordination of both individual droplets and batches of droplets. We then present a linear time stepwise approach for batch coordination of droplet matrix layouts.
  • Mobility and Kinematic Analysis of a Novel Dexterous Micro Gripper Authors: Xiao, Shunli; Li, Yangmin
    The paper presents the design and analysis of a dexterous micro-gripper with two fingers and each finger has 2-DOF translational movement function. The two fingers can move independently in hundreds of microns' range, and can cooperate with each other to realize complex operation for micro objects. The mobility characteristics and the inverse parallel kinematic model of a single finger are analyzed by resorting to screw theory and compliance and stiffness matrix method, which are validated by finite-element analysis (FEA). Both FEA and the theoretical model have well validated the movement of the fingers moving in translational way, the designed micro gripper can realize a lot of complex functions. Properly selecting the amplification ratio and the stroke of the PZT, we can mount the gripper onto a positioning stage to realize a larger motion range, which will make it be widely used in micro parts assembly and bio-operation systems.

Embodied Intelligence - Complient Actuators

  • A Versatile Biomimetic Controller for Contact Tooling and Tactile Exploration Authors: Jarrasse, Nathanael; burdet, etienne; Ganesh, Gowrishankar; Haddadin, Sami; Albu-Schäffer, Alin
    This article presents a versatile controller that enables various contact tooling tasks with minimal prior knowledge of the tooled surface. The controller is derived from results of neuroscience studies that investigated the neural mechanisms utilized by humans to control and learn complex interactions with the environment. We demonstrate here the versatility of this controller in simulations of cutting, drilling and surface exploration tasks, which would normally require different control paradigms. We also present results on the exploration of an unknown surface with a 7-DOF manipulator, where the robot builds a 3D surface map of the surface profile and texture while applying constant force during motion. Our controller provides a unified control framework encompassing behaviors expected from the different specialized control paradigms like position control, force control and impedance control.
  • Passive Impedance Control of a Multi-DOF VSA-CubeBot Manipulator Authors: Mancini, Michele; Grioli, Giorgio; Catalano, Manuel; Garabini, Manolo; Bonomo, Fabio; Bicchi, Antonio
    This work presents an example of the application of passive impedance control of a variable stiffness manipulator, which shows the actual benefits of variable stiffness in rejecting disturbances without resorting to the closure of a high level feedback loop. In the experiment a 4-DOF manipulator arm, built with the VSA-CubeBot platform, is controlled to hold a pen and draw a circle on an uneven surface. The control is designed calculating joint and stiffness trajectories with a Cartesian approach to the problem, thus designing the optimal workspace stiffness at first. Then, the joint stiffness yielding the closest workspace stiffness is searched for. Experimental results are reported, which agree with the theoretical outcomes, showing that the sub-optimal joints stiffness settings allow the arm to follow the circular trajectory on the uneven surface at best.
  • Optimality Principles in Stiffness Control: The VSA Kick Authors: Garabini, Manolo; Belo, Felipe; Salaris, Paolo; Passaglia, Andrea; Bicchi, Antonio
    The importance of Variable Stiffness Actuators (VSA) in safety and performance of robots has been extensively discussed in the last decade. It has also been shown recently that a VSA brings performance advantages with respect to common actuators. For instance, the solution of the optimal control problem of maximizing the speed of a VSA for impact maximization at a given position with free final time is achieved by applying a control policy that synchronizes stiffness changes with link speed and acceleration. This problem can be regarded as the formalization of the performance of a soccer player’s free kick. In this paper we revisit the impact maximization problem with imposing a new constraint: we want to maximize the velocity of the actuator link at a given position and fixed terminal time - applicable e.g. to maximize performance of a first-time kick. We first study the problem with fixed stiffness and show that under realistic modeling assumptions, there does exist an optimal linear spring for a given link inertia, final time and motor characteristics. Results are validated with experimental tests. We then study optimal control of VSA and show that varying the spring stiffness during the execution of the kick task substantially improves the final speed.
  • Optimal Control for Exploiting the Natural Dynamics of Variable Stiffness Robots Authors: Haddadin, Sami; Huber, Felix; Albu-Schäffer, Alin
    In contrast to common rigid or actively compliant systems, Variable Stiffness Arms are capable of storing potential energy in their joint and convert it into kinetic energy, respectively speed. This capability is well known from humans and is a good example for the outstanding performance of biological systems. However, only since some years intrinsic compliance is considered as a key feature and not a drawback in robot design. Therefore, only very little work has been carried out for exploiting the natural dynamics of elastic arms for such explosive motion sequences. In this paper, we treat the problem of how to optimally achieve maximum link velocity at a given final time for Variable Stiffness Arms. We show that solutions to this problem lead to excitation motions, which enable the robot to move on the link side at much higher speed on the motor side. In particular, the robot uses the dynamic transfer of elastic joint energy into link side kinetic energy for further acceleration. In our work we consider the practically relevant input and state constraints, and give experimental verification of the developed methods on the new DLR Hand-Arm system.
  • The vsaUT-II: A Novel Rotational Variable Stiffness Actuator Authors: Groothuis, Stefan S.; Rusticelli, Giacomo; Zucchelli, Andrea; Stramigioli, Stefano; Carloni, Raffaella
    In this paper, the vsaUT-II, a novel rotational variable stiffness actuator, is presented. As the other designs in this class of actuation systems, the vsaUT-II is characterized by the property that the output stiffness can be changed independently of the output position. It consists of two internal elastic elements and two internal actuated degrees of freedom. The mechanical design of the vsaUT-II is such that the apparent output stiffness can be varied by changing the transmission ratio between the elastic elements and the output. This kinematic structure guarantees that the output stiffness can be changed without changing the potential energy stored internally in the elastic elements. This property is validated in simulations with the port-based model of the system and in experiments, through a proper control law design, on the prototype.
  • pVEJ: A Modular Passive Viscoelastic Joint for Assistive Wearable Robots Authors: Accoto, Dino; Tagliamonte, Nevio Luigi; Carpino, Giorgio; Sergi, Fabrizio; Di Palo, Michelangelo; Guglielmelli, Eugenio
    In complex dynamical tasks human motor control notably exploits the possibility of regulating joints mechanical impedance, both for stability and for energetic optimization purposes. These biomechanical findings should translate in design requirements for wearable robotics joints, which are required to produce adaptable intrinsic viscoelastic behaviors. This paper describes the design of a purely mechanical, rotary, passive ViscoElastic Joint (pVEJ), functionally equivalent to a torsional spring connected in parallel to a rotary viscous damper. The device has a modular design, which allows to modify the stiffness characteristics by replacing cam profiles. Damping coefficient can be also regulated off-line, manually acting on a valve. Prototype performances are characterized using a custom-developed dynamometric test-bed. Results demonstrate the capability of the system to render both the desired stiffness and damping values, in a range of impedance and peak torque compatible to that of wearable robotics for gait assistance.

Biologically Inspired Robotics II

  • Approximating the Stance Map of the SLIP Runner Based on Perturbation Approach Authors: Yu, Haitao; Li, Mantian; Cai, Hegao
    The Spring-Loaded Inverted Pendulum (SLIP), or monopedal runner, is widely used to depict running and hopping in mammalian and human locomotion, which is also serving as a template for running robot design. This classic model describes quite a simple mechanical system. Nevertheless issue of seeking the accurate analytic solution revealing the characteristics of the motion during stance remains unsettled due to the nonintegrable terms contained in the system equations. Moreover, several existing analytic approximations by simply ignoring or linearizing the gravitational force can not reveal the entire dynamical behavior of nonlinear system as well as can be breakdown rapidly when applied to a non-symmetric motion case. In this paper, a novel method with perturbation technique is proposed to obtain analytic approximate solutions to the SLIP dynamics in stance phase with considering the effect of gravity. The perturbation solution achieves higher accuracy in predicting the apex trajectory and stance locomotion by comparing with typical existing analytical approximations. Particularly, our solution is validated for non-symmetric case in a large angle range. Additionally, the prediction for stance trajectory is also verified through numerical evaluation.
  • Analysis of Dynamics and Planar Motion Strategies of a Swimming Microorganism -- Giardia Lamblia Authors: Chen, Jun; Lenaghan, Scott; Zhang, Mingjun
    We studied the dynamics associated with planar swimming in the microorganism Giardia lamblia. Giardia parasitizes the small intestine of humans and other animals, and has evolved a robust attachment and swimming mechanism to survive this harsh environment, which provides potential bio-inspiration for microrobot design. In this paper, a 2D dynamic model of flagella-body-fluid interaction was developed to analyze the actuation of the flagellum, energy supply and dissipation, and thrust along the flagellum. We found that to achieve the observed flagella motion, the required actuation bending moment decreases in magnitude from the proximal to the distal end, and that energy only needs to be supplied to the proximal half portion of the flagellum. The supplied energy is dissipated to the fluid continuously along the flagellum, with almost linearly increasing magnitude towards the distal end. Consistently, thrust mainly comes from the posterior portion of the flagellum. We also analyzed the kinematics of the flagella. The characteristics of the forward and turning motion are revealed through simulation. These results may help the gait planning and actuation for energy efficient propulsion in swimming micro-robotic design.
  • Against the Flow: A Braitenberg Controller for a Fish Robot Authors: Salumae, Taavi; Rano, Inaki; Akanyeti, Otar; Kruusmaa, Maarja
    Underwater vehicles do not localise or navigate with respect to the flow, an ability needed for many underwater tasks. In this paper we implement rheotaxis behaviour in a fish robot, a behaviour common to many aquatic species. We use two pressure sensors on the head of the robot to identify the pressure differences on the left and right side and control the heading of the fish robot by turning a servo-motor actuated tail. The controller is inspired by the Braitenberg vehicle 2b, a simple biological model of tropotaxis, that has been used in many robotic applications. The experiments, conducted in a flow pipe with a uniform flow, show that the robot is able to orient itself, and keep the orientation, to the incoming current. Our results demonstrate that guidance of a fish robot relative to a flow can be implemented as a simple rheotaxis behaviour using two sensors and a Braitenberg 2b controller.
  • Simplified Motion Modeling for Snake Robots Authors: Enner, Florian; Rollinson, David; Choset, Howie
    We present a general method of estimating a snake robot’s motion over flat ground using only knowledge of the robot’s shape changes over time. Estimating world motion of snake robots is often difficult because of the complex way a robot’s cyclic shape changes (gaits) interact with the surrounding environment. By using the virtual chassis to separate the robot’s internal shape changes from its external motions through the world, we are able to construct a motion model based on the differential motion of the robot’s modules between time steps. In this way, we effectively treat the snake robot like a wheeled robot where the bottom-most modules propel the robot in much the way the bottom of the wheels would propel the chassis of a car. Experimental results using a 16-DOF snake robot are presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of this method for a variety of gaits that have been designed to traverse flat ground.
  • Conical Sidewinding Authors: Gong, Chaohui; Hatton, Ross; Choset, Howie
    Sidewinding is an efficient translation gait used by snakes and snake robots over flat ground, and resembles a helical tread moving over a core cylindrical geometry. Most sidewinding research has focused on straight-line translation of the snake, and less on steering capabilities. Here, we offer a new, geometrically intuitive method for steering this gait: Tapering the core cylinder into a cone, such that one end moves faster than the other, changing the heading of the robot as it drives forward. We present several design tools for working with this cone, along with experimental results on a physical robot turning at different rates.
  • Altitude Feedback Control of a Flapping-Wing Microrobot Using an On-Board Biologically Inspired Optical Flow Sensor Authors: Duhamel, Pierre-Emile; Perez-Arancibia, Nestor O; Barrows, Geoffrey; Wood, Robert
    We present experimental results on the controlled vertical flight of a flapping-wing flying microrobot, in which for the first time an on-board sensing system is used for measuring the microrobot's altitude for feedback control. Both the control strategy and the sensing system are biologically inspired. The control strategy relies on amplitude modulation mediated by optical flow. The research presented here is a key step toward achieving the goal of complete autonomy for flying microrobots, since this demonstrates that strategies for controlling flapping-wing microrobots in vertical flight can rely on optical flow sensors.