TechTalks from event: Plenary talks from ICRA 2012

ICRA Plenary Talks

  • Robotics in the Small Authors: Professor Brad Nelson, Department of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, ETH-Zürich, Zürich, Swiss
    While the futuristic vision of micro and nanorobotics is of intelligent machines that navigate throughout our bodies searching for and destroying disease, we have a long way to go to get there. Progress is being made, though, and the past decade has seen impressive advances in the fabrication, powering, and control of tiny motile devices. Much of our work focuses on creating systems for controlling micro and nanorobots in liquid as well as pursuing applications of these devices. Larger scale microrobots for delivering drugs to the retina to treat eye diseases such as age related macular degeneration and retinal vein and artery occlusion are moving towards clinical trials. As size decreases to the nanoscale, we have been inspired by motile bacteria, such as E . coli, and have developed nanorobots that swim with a similar technique. Applications we pursue at these scales are for the treatment of breast cancer and cerebral infarctions. The potential impact of this technology on society is high, particularly for biomedical applications, though many challenges remain in developing micro and nano robots that will be useful to society. An overarching requirement for achieving breakthroughs in this area is the need to bring together expertise from a wide variety of science and engineering disciplines. Robotics brings expertise in the planning and control of mechanisms with many degrees of freedom in uncertain environments. Nanotechnology teaches innovative approaches to fabricating nanoscale machines. In addition, biomedical imaging advances are needed, as is fundamental insight into the nature of fluid dynamics at very small scales. Medical professionals must be tightly integrated into the development cycle, and experts in developing business models and intellectual property must be closely consulted. As systems such as these enter clinical trials, and as commercial applications of this new technology are realized, radically new therapies and uses will result that have yet to be envisioned.
  • Bio-Bots: Bio-Integrated Robotics Using Live Cells As Components Authors: Professor H. Harry Asada Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA
    Live cells and tissues cultured in microfluidic in vitro environment can be used as components of a robot. Skeletal muscles, for example, have the potential to be effective actuators for powering a micro -robot or an artificial “animal”. Muscle strips can be formed from their precursory cells, myoblasts, by guiding them through multi-stage myogenic process. Muscle strips self-assembled together with a robotic structure can activate a high DOF micro mechanism, for which there is no actuator technology currently available. Such live biological materials will be a game-changing technology in designing robotic systems and extending their applications to broader fields. This talk will introduce the state-of-the-art of bio-artificial muscles and other key biological components, and address potentials and challenges of bio-integrated robots. Three thrusts of bioengineering and control technologies will be highlighted. First, skeletal muscle cells are genetically altered so that each muscle strip can be controlled individually with high spatiotemporal resolution: Optogenetics. When exposed to a light beam, a group of light-sensitive muscle strips contract locally and dynamically, creating multi DOF motion in a compact body. Second, a new culturing technique is develope d for creating 3-D fascicle-like muscle constructs, which is a key step for scaling up the bio-artificial muscles to a large-scale functional muscle. Finally, a new stochastic control method for controlling a population of cells and micro-tissues will be discussed. While individual cells and tissues are inevitably heterogeneous and stochastic, their population behaviors are stable and functional in a wide range. A new approach is needed for in vitro control of cells and tissues to assure robust, reliable behaviors. The talk will conclude with future research agenda on Bio-Bots at the NSF Science and Technology Center, Emergent Behaviors of Integrative Cellular Systems, where the speaker’s group has been participating.
  • Development Outline of the Humanoid Robot: HUBO II Authors: Professor Jun Ho Oh Department of Mechanical Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Korea
    Hubo II is a 40-DOF full size Humanoid Robot with 1.3m of height and 45Kg of weight. Hubo II which was originally developed at KAIST is now in commercial production stage by Rainbow Co., an enterprise licensed by KAIST. Nine Hubo II have successfully been delivered to universities and research institutes in Singapore and the US. The full size humanoid robot differs from the toy size small ones in many aspects. It should have a very stable and well-designed structure with little uncertainties. It must be strong enough to move its body weight, but not so heavy to minimize the torques to drive the body parts. All the electrical parts and sensors including force/torque sensors, inertia sensors, the driver circuits, and decentralized control must be designed and fabricated compact enough to be fit in the enclosure of the body. Another important task is to design a walking algorithm. The walking algorithm is composed with two parts: off-line gait pattern design and real time stabilization control. Gait pattern design is to find a periodic function for each joint of leg such that humanoid robot is to walk with desired velocity keeping a certain level of stability. We suggested a simple function connected with cubic spline and sine functions with minimal number of parameters. This approach simplifies the parameter adjustment procedure. Play back of gait pattern found from the former process, however, does not guarantee the robot walks in real practice since there are number of uncertainties involved in real situations. The uncertainties include ground inclination, friction, and un-modeled vibration of the body. The stabilization algorithm should deal with these kinds of problems. Hubo’s walk algorithm has eight levels of hierarchical control architecture to cope with the general circumstances in the walking environment. The general issues mentioned above will be presented.