TechTalks from event: Technical session talks from ICRA 2012

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Path Planning and Navigation

  • Reliable Indoor Navigation with an Unreliable Robot: Allowing Temporary Uncertainty for Maximum Mobility Authors: Lewis, Jeremy; O'Kane, Jason
    In this work we consider a navigation problem for a very simple robot equipped with only a map, compass, and contact sensor. Our prior work on this problem uses a graph to navigate between the convex vertices of an environment. In this paper, we extend this graph with the addition of a new node type and four new edge types. The new node type allows for more uncertainty in robot position. The presence of one of these new edge types guarantees reliable transitions between these nodes. This enhanced graph enables the algorithm to navigate environment features not solvable by our previous algorithm, including T-junctions and long halls. We also present a heuristic to accelerate the planning process by prioritizing the promising edge tests to perform. Our heuristic effectively focuses the search and qualitative data show that it computes plans with much less computational effort than a naive approach. We describe a simulated implementation of the algorithm that finds paths not previously possible, and a physical implementation that demonstrates the feasibility of executing those plans in practice.
  • Path Planning in Time Dependent Flow Fields Using Level Set Methods Authors: Lolla, Tapovan; Ueckermann, Mattheus Percy; Haley, Patrick; Lermusiaux, Pierre F.J.
    We develop and illustrate an efficient but rigorous methodology that predicts the time-optimal paths of ocean vehicles in continuous dynamic flows. The goal is to best utilize or avoid currents, without limitation on these currents or on the number of vehicles. The methodology employs a new modified level set equation to evolve a front from the starting point of a vehicle until it reaches the desired goal location, combining flow advection with nominal vehicle motion. The optimal path of the vehicle is then obtained by solving a particle tracking equation backward in time. The computational cost of this method increases linearly with the number of vehicles and geometrically with spatial dimensions. The methodology is applicable to any continuous flow and in scenarios with multiple vehicles. Present illustrations consist of the crossing of a canonical uniform jet and its validation using a classic optimization solution, as well as swarm formation in more complex time varying 2D flow fields, including jets, eddies and forbidden regions.
  • Provably Safe Navigation for Mobile Robots with Limited Field-Of-Views in Unknown Dynamic Environments Authors: bouraine, sara; Fraichard, Thierry; salhi, hassen
    This paper addresses the problem of navigating a mobile robot with a limited field-of-view in a unknown dynamic environment. In such a situation, absolute motion safety, i.e. such that no collision will ever take place whatever happens, is impossible to guarantee. It is therefore settled for a weaker level of motion safety dubbed passive motion safety: it guarantees that, if a collision takes place, the robot will be at rest. Passive motion safety is tackled using a variant of the Inevitable Collision State (ICS) concept called Braking ICS, i.e. states such that, whatever the future braking trajectory of the robot, a collision occurs before it is at rest. Passive motion safety is readily obtained by avoiding Braking ICS at all times. Building upon an existing Braking ICS-Checker, i.e. an algorithm that checks if a given state is a Braking ICS or not, this paper presents a reactive collision avoidance scheme called PassAvoid. The main contribution of this paper is the formal proof of PassAvoid's passive motion safety. Experiments in simulation demonstrates how PassAvoid operates.
  • An Efficient Mobile Robot Path Planning Using Hierarchical Roadmap Representation in Indoor Environment Authors: Park, Byungjae; Choi, Jinwoo; Chung, Wan Kyun
    This paper describes a practical approach to solve a path planning problem in a home environment. The proposed approach incrementally constructs the hierarchical roadmap which has a multi-layered structure using a sonar grid map when a mobile robot navigates in unexplored area. The hierarchical roadmap can almost completely cover the traversable areas in the environment. The mobile robot path planner using the hierarchical roadmap can efficiently search for appropriate paths under the limited computing power and time by reducing the search space size. The benefits of the hierarchical roadmap representation were verified by experiments in a home environment.
  • 3D Time-Space Path Planning Algorithm in Dynamic Environment Utilizing Arrival Time Field and Heuristically Randomized Tree Authors: Ardiyanto, Igi; Miura, Jun
    This paper deals with a path planning problem in the dynamic and cluttered environments. The presence of moving obstacles and kinodynamic constraints of the robot increases the complexity of path planning problem. We model the environment and motion of dynamic obstacles in <i>3D time-space</i>. We propose the utilization of <i>the arrival time field</i> for examining the most promising area in those <i>obstacles-occupied</i> 3D time-space for approaching the goal. The arrival time field is used for guiding the expansion of a randomized tree search in a favorable way, considering kinodynamic constraints of the robot. The quality and the optimality of the path are taken into account by performing heuristic methods on the randomized tree. Simulation results are also provided to prove the feasibility, possibility, and effectiveness of our algorithm.
  • High-Speed Navigation of a Uniformly Braking Mobile Robot Using Position-Velocity Configuration Space Authors: Manor, Gil; Rimon, Elon
    This paper considers the problem of fast autonomous mobile robot navigation between obstacles while attempting to maximize velocity subject to safe braking constraints. The paper introduces position-velocity configuration space. Within this space, keeping a uniform braking distance from the obstacles can be modeled as forbidden regions called vc-obstacles. Using Morse Theory, the paper characterizes the critical position-velocity points where two vc-obstacles meet and locally disconnect the free position-velocity space. These points correspond to critical events where the robot's velocity becomes too large to support safe passage between neighboring obstacles. The velocity dependent critical points induce a cellular decomposition of the free position-velocity space into cells. Each cell is associated with a particular range of velocities that can be safely followed by the robot. The paper proposes a practical algorithm that searches the cells' adjacency graph for a maximum velocity path. The algorithm outputs a pseudo time optimal path which maintains safe braking distance from the obstacles throughout the robot motion. Simulations demonstrate the algorithm and highlight the usefulness of taking the path's velocity into account during the path planning process.


  • Experimental Validation of locomotion efficiency of Worm-like Robots and Contact Compliance Authors: Zarrouk, David; Sharf, Inna; Shoham, Moshe
    Biological vessels are characterized by their substantial compliance and low friction which present a major challenge for crawling robots for minimally invasive medical procedures. Quite a number of studies considered the design and construction of crawling robots, however, very few focused on the interaction between the robots and the flexible environment. In a previous study, we derived the analytical efficiency of worm locomotion as a function of the number of cells, friction coefficients, normal forces and local (contact) tangential compliance. In this paper, we generalize our previous analysis to include dynamic and static coefficients of friction, determine the conditions of locomotion as function of the external resisting forces and experimentally validate our previous and newly obtained theoretical results. Our experimental setup consists of worm robot prototypes, flexible interfaces with known compliance and a Vicon motion capture system to measure the robot positioning. Separate experiments were conducted to measure the tangential compliance of the contact interface which is required for computing the analytical efficiency. The validation experiments are shown to be in clear match with the theoretical predictions. Specifically, the convergence of the tangential deflections to an arithmetic series and the partial and overall loss of locomotion verify the theoretical predictions.
  • Dynamic Turning of 13 Cm Robot Comparing Tail and Differential Drive Authors: Pullin, Andrew; Kohut, Nicholas Joseph; Fearing, Ronald
    Rapid and consistent turning of running legged robots on surfaces with moderate friction is challenging due to leg slip and uncertain dynamics. A tail is proposed as a method to effect turns at higher yaw frequencies than can be obtained by differential velocity drive of alternate sides. Here we introduce a 100 mm scale dynamic robot - OctoRoACH - with differential-drive steering and a low-mass tail to investigate issues of yaw rate control. The robot without tail is under-actuated with only 2 drive motors and mass of 35 grams including all battery and control electronics. For some surface conditions, OctoRoACH can maintain heading or turning rate using only leg velocity control, and a basic rate-gyro-based heading control system can respond to disturbances, with a closed-loop bandwidth of approximately 1 Hz. Using a modified off-the-shelf servo for the tail drive, the robot responds to turning commands at 4 Hz.
  • A Compliant Bioinspired Swimming Robot with Neuro-Inspired Control and Autonomous Behavior Authors: Stefanini, Cesare; Orofino, Stefano; Manfredi, Luigi; Mintchev, Stefano; Marrazza, Stefano; Assaf, Tareq; Capantini, Lorenza; Sinibaldi, Edoardo; Grillner, Sten; Wallén, Peter; Dario, Paolo
    In this paper the development of a bio-robotic platform is described. The robot design exploits biomechanical and neuroscientific knowledge on the lamprey, an eel-like swimmer well studied and characterized thanks to the reduced complexity of its anatomy. The robot is untethered, has a compliant body, muscle-like high efficiency actuators, proprioceptive sensors to detect stretch and stereoscopic vision. Experiments on the platform are reported, including robust and autonomous goal-directed swimming. Extensive experiments have been possible thanks to very high energy efficiency (around five hour continuous operating) the platform is ready to be used as investigation tool for high level motor tasks.
  • Kinematic Design of an Asymmetric In-phase Flapping Mechanism for MAVs Authors: Park, Joon-Hyuk; Yang, Emily; Agrawal, Sunil
    The thorax of an insect has direct flight muscles that can independently control the flapping amplitude, relative phase, and mean position of its left and right wings. This feature allows insects to modulate lateral dynamics during hovering flight, resulting in high flight maneuverability. This paper introduces the development and characterization of a novel flapping mechanism for MAVs, denoted as AIFM (Asymmetric In-phase Flapping Mechanism), that is capable of achieving controlled, asymmetric in-phase wing flapping as inspired by similar features in insects. The system consists of two 4-bar mechanisms that create basic flapping motions and two RRPR mechanisms that control the asymmetric flapping motion. The kinematics of the mechanism was investigated and optimized in such a way that enables the mechanism to produce reliable, in-phase wing motion during asymmetric flapping flight. The kinematics of the wings was evaluated both computationally and experimentally. It was shown that asymmetric wing flapping can be successfully achieved without affecting the in-phase flapping motion.
  • Maintaining Odor Tracking Behavior Using an Established Tracking Direction in a Dynamic Wind Environment Authors: Taylor, Brian; Wu, Dora; Willis, Mark; Quinn, Roger, D.
    The ability to autonomously track a fluid-borne odor has numerous engineering applications and natural occurrences. Engineering systems can use odor-guided navigation in tasks ranging from search and rescue to locating dangerous chemicals. Animals use odors to locate food and mates. For animals in strong unsteady turbulent flow environments where the wind is intermittent and occasionally vanishes, there is an ecological benefit to maintaining wind-driven tracking behavior. This has been shown in experiments performed using moths and cockroaches, where animals that began tracking odor in wind maintained their wind driven tracking behavior and eventually located the source after the wind was shut off during their tracking behavior. Here, we use RoboMoth, a previously developed 3D odor-tracking robot, to replicate these experiments. Our results can aid biologists in understanding how animals track odors in dynamic environments. In engineering, this study provides a first step in a hardware system towards linking odor tracking in strong wind environments to tracking in zero/low flow environments by studying the transition between the two regimes. This can help further engineers’ efforts to design odor-tracking systems capable of negotiating diverse and dynamic environments. Our study of the transition from using the wind as a primary directional cue to relying on odor and an established tracking direction appears to be novel in an engineering context and unique to our work.
  • Brain-inspired Bayesian Perception for Biomimetic Robot Touch Authors: Lepora, Nathan; Sullivan, John C W; Mitchinson, Ben; Pearson, Martin; Gurney, Kevin; Prescott, Tony J
    Studies of decision making in animals suggest a neural mechanism of evidence accumulation for competing percepts according to Bayesian sequential analysis. This model of perception is embodied here in a biomimetic tactile sensing robot based on the rodent whisker system. We implement simultaneous perception of object shape and location using two psychological test paradigms: first, a free-response paradigm in which the agent decides when to respond, implemented with Bayesian sequential analysis; and second an interrogative paradigm in which the agent responds after a fixed interval, implemented with maximum likelihood estimation. A benefit of free-response Bayesian perception is that it allows tuning of reaction speed against accuracy. In addition, we find that large gains in decision performance are achieved with unforced responses that allow null decisions on ambiguous data. Therefore free-response Bayesian perception offers benefits for artificial systems that make them more animal-like in behavior.

Micro - Nanoscale Automation

  • Automated Nanomanipulation for Nano Device Construction Authors: Zhang, Yanliang; Li, Jason; To, Steve; Zhang, Yong; Ye, Xutao; Sun, Yu
    Nanowire field-effect transistors (nano-FETs) are nano devices capable of highly sensitive, label-free sensing of molecules. However, significant variations in sensitivity across devices can result from poor control over device parameters, such as nanowire diameter and the number of electrode-bridging nanowires. This paper presents a fabrication approach that uses wafer-scale nanowire contact printing for throughput and uses automated nanomanipulation for precision control of nanowire number and diameter. The process requires only one photolithography mask. Using nanowire contact printing and post processing (i.e., nanomanipulation inside scanning electron microscope), we are able to produce devices all with a single nanowire and similar diameters at a speed of ~1 min/device with a success rate of 95% (n=500). This technology represents a seamless integration of wafer-scale microfabrication and automated nanorobotic manipulation for producing nano-FET sensors with consistent response across devices.
  • Vision-Based Retinal Membrane Peeling with a Handheld Robot Authors: Becker, Brian C.; MacLachlan, Robert A.; Lobes, Louis A.; Riviere, Cameron
    Peeling delicate retinal membranes, which are often less than five microns thick, is one of the most challenging retinal surgeries. Preventing rips and tears caused by tremor and excessive force can decrease injury and reduce the need for follow up surgeries. We propose the use of a fully handheld microsurgical robot and vision-based virtual fixtures to enforce helpful constraints on the motion of the tool. Our key contribution is using only visual information to reduce and limit forces during vitreoretinal surgery: no force feedback is used in the control system. Utilizing stereo vision and tracking algorithms, the robot activates motion-scaled behavior as the tip nears the surface, providing finer control during the critical step of engaging the membrane edge. A hard virtual fixture just below the surface bounds the total downward force that can be applied. Furthermore, velocity limiting during the peeling helps the surgeon maintain a smooth, constant force while lifting and delaminating the membrane. On a retinal phantom consisting of plastic wrap stretched on top a rubber slide, we demonstrate a reduction of maximum force by 40-70%.
  • Holonomic 5-DOF Magnetic Control of 1D Nanostructures Authors: Schuerle, Simone; Peyer, Kathrin Eva; Kratochvil, Bradley; Nelson, Bradley J.
    This paper presents a manipulation system capable of five degree of freedom (5-DOF) control of a magnetic nanoagent (3-DOF position, 2-DOF orientation) implemented on an inverted microscope. Magnetic fields up to 50 mT and gradients up to 5 T/m at frequencies up to 6 kHz can be achieved. The independent generation of field and gradient vectors enables holonomic 5-DOF wireless magnetic manipulation at the nanoscale. Multiple types of motion were investigated for nickel nanowires of different lengths and analyzed using resistive force theory.
  • Interval Analysis for Robot Precision Evaluation Authors: Pac, Muhammed Rasid; Popa, Dan
    The success of assembly and manipulation tasks is highly dependent on the precision of robotic positioners employed. In turn, precision metrics for robots depend on the kinematic design, choice of actuators, sensors, and control system. In this paper, we investigate the effect of parametric uncertainties on the robot precision using interval analysis. The advantage of interval analysis is that it provides rigorous bounds on the effects of errors in terms of interval numbers. Two types of errors are considered: geometric errors due to link and joint parameter uncertainties, and sensing errors due to inaccurate measurement of joint positions. We show that modeling and simulation of these uncertainties using intervals can provide useful insight into the evaluation of manipulator precision for a given task. In particular, simulation results are offered to predict the required tolerances in a peg-in-hole microassembly operation. It is illustrated that the presented approach can replace computationally more expensive Monte-Carlo simulations to estimate the effect of uncertainties.