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Software Engineering for Experimental Robotics (Springer Tracts in Conference on Software Engineering: Companion Proceedings, May ,
Table of contents
However, it still requires a smooth surface to walk on.
Software Engineering for Experimental Robotics
Initially, a robot with only one leg, and a very small foot could stay upright simply by hopping. The movement is the same as that of a person on a pogo stick. As the robot falls to one side, it would jump slightly in that direction, in order to catch itself. A bipedal robot was demonstrated running and even performing somersaults. A more advanced way for a robot to walk is by using a dynamic balancing algorithm, which is potentially more robust than the Zero Moment Point technique, as it constantly monitors the robot's motion, and places the feet in order to maintain stability.
Perhaps the most promising approach utilizes passive dynamics where the momentum of swinging limbs is used for greater efficiency. It has been shown that totally unpowered humanoid mechanisms can walk down a gentle slope, using only gravity to propel themselves.
Using this technique, a robot need only supply a small amount of motor power to walk along a flat surface or a little more to walk up a hill. A modern passenger airliner is essentially a flying robot, with two humans to manage it. The autopilot can control the plane for each stage of the journey, including takeoff, normal flight, and even landing. They can be smaller and lighter without a human pilot on board, and fly into dangerous territory for military surveillance missions. Some can even fire on targets under command. UAVs are also being developed which can fire on targets automatically, without the need for a command from a human.
Other flying robots include cruise missiles , the Entomopter, and the Epson micro helicopter robot. Robots such as the Air Penguin, Air Ray, and Air Jelly have lighter-than-air bodies, propelled by paddles, and guided by sonar. Several snake robots have been successfully developed. Mimicking the way real snakes move, these robots can navigate very confined spaces, meaning they may one day be used to search for people trapped in collapsed buildings.
A small number of skating robots have been developed, one of which is a multi-mode walking and skating device. It has four legs, with unpowered wheels, which can either step or roll. Several different approaches have been used to develop robots that have the ability to climb vertical surfaces. One approach mimics the movements of a human climber on a wall with protrusions; adjusting the center of mass and moving each limb in turn to gain leverage. An example of this is Capuchin,  built by Dr.
Ruixiang Zhang at Stanford University, California. Another approach uses the specialized toe pad method of wall-climbing geckoes , which can run on smooth surfaces such as vertical glass. Examples of this approach include Wallbot  and Stickybot. According to Dr. Li, the gecko robot could rapidly climb up and down a variety of building walls, navigate through ground and wall fissures, and walk upside-down on the ceiling.
It was also able to adapt to the surfaces of smooth glass, rough, sticky or dusty walls as well as various types of metallic materials.
It could also identify and circumvent obstacles automatically. Its flexibility and speed were comparable to a natural gecko. A third approach is to mimic the motion of a snake climbing a pole. Therefore, many researchers studying underwater robots would like to copy this type of locomotion. Festo have also built the Aqua Ray and Aqua Jelly, which emulate the locomotion of manta ray, and jellyfish, respectively.
Huosheng Hu at Essex University. Sailboat robots have also been developed in order to make measurements at the surface of the ocean. Since the propulsion of sailboat robots uses the wind, the energy of the batteries is only used for the computer, for the communication and for the actuators to tune the rudder and the sail. If the robot is equipped with solar panels, the robot could theoretically navigate forever. Though a significant percentage of robots in commission today are either human controlled or operate in a static environment, there is an increasing interest in robots that can operate autonomously in a dynamic environment.
These robots require some combination of navigation hardware and software in order to traverse their environment. In particular, unforeseen events e. Also, self-controlled cars , Ernst Dickmanns ' driverless car , and the entries in the DARPA Grand Challenge , are capable of sensing the environment well and subsequently making navigational decisions based on this information.
Most of these robots employ a GPS navigation device with waypoints, along with radar , sometimes combined with other sensory data such as lidar , video cameras , and inertial guidance systems for better navigation between waypoints. The state of the art in sensory intelligence for robots will have to progress through several orders of magnitude if we want the robots working in our homes to go beyond vacuum-cleaning the floors. If robots are to work effectively in homes and other non-industrial environments, the way they are instructed to perform their jobs, and especially how they will be told to stop will be of critical importance.
The people who interact with them may have little or no training in robotics, and so any interface will need to be extremely intuitive. Science fiction authors also typically assume that robots will eventually be capable of communicating with humans through speech , gestures , and facial expressions , rather than a command-line interface. Although speech would be the most natural way for the human to communicate, it is unnatural for the robot. Interpreting the continuous flow of sounds coming from a human, in real time , is a difficult task for a computer, mostly because of the great variability of speech.
It becomes even harder when the speaker has a different accent. Other hurdles exist when allowing the robot to use voice for interacting with humans. For social reasons, synthetic voice proves suboptimal as a communication medium,  making it necessary to develop the emotional component of robotic voice through various techniques. One of the earliest examples is a teaching robot named leachim developed in by Michael J. One can imagine, in the future, explaining to a robot chef how to make a pastry, or asking directions from a robot police officer.
In both of these cases, making hand gestures would aid the verbal descriptions. In the first case, the robot would be recognizing gestures made by the human, and perhaps repeating them for confirmation.
In the second case, the robot police officer would gesture to indicate "down the road, then turn right". It is likely that gestures will make up a part of the interaction between humans and robots. Facial expressions can provide rapid feedback on the progress of a dialog between two humans, and soon may be able to do the same for humans and robots. Robotic faces have been constructed by Hanson Robotics using their elastic polymer called Frubber , allowing a large number of facial expressions due to the elasticity of the rubber facial coating and embedded subsurface motors servos.
A robot should know how to approach a human, judging by their facial expression and body language.
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Whether the person is happy, frightened, or crazy-looking affects the type of interaction expected of the robot. Likewise, robots like Kismet and the more recent addition, Nexi  can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans. As can be seen from the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within , the programming of these artificial emotions is complex and requires a large amount of human observation.
To simplify this programming in the movie, presets were created together with a special software program. This decreased the amount of time needed to make the film. These presets could possibly be transferred for use in real-life robots. Many of the robots of science fiction have a personality , something which may or may not be desirable in the commercial robots of the future.
One commercial example is Pleo , a toy robot dinosaur, which can exhibit several apparent emotions. The Socially Intelligent Machines Lab of the Georgia Institute of Technology researches new concepts of guided teaching interaction with robots. The aim of the projects is a social robot that learns task and goals from human demonstrations without prior knowledge of high-level concepts.
These new concepts are grounded from low-level continuous sensor data through unsupervised learning , and task goals are subsequently learned using a Bayesian approach. These concepts can be used to transfer knowledge to future tasks, resulting in faster learning of those tasks. The results are demonstrated by the robot Curi who can scoop some pasta from a pot onto a plate and serve the sauce on top.
The mechanical structure of a robot must be controlled to perform tasks. The control of a robot involves three distinct phases — perception, processing, and action robotic paradigms. Sensors give information about the environment or the robot itself e. This information is then processed to be stored or transmitted and to calculate the appropriate signals to the actuators motors which move the mechanical.
The processing phase can range in complexity. At a reactive level, it may translate raw sensor information directly into actuator commands. Sensor fusion may first be used to estimate parameters of interest e. An immediate task such as moving the gripper in a certain direction is inferred from these estimates. Techniques from control theory convert the task into commands that drive the actuators.
At longer time scales or with more sophisticated tasks, the robot may need to build and reason with a "cognitive" model. Cognitive models try to represent the robot, the world, and how they interact. Pattern recognition and computer vision can be used to track objects.
Mapping techniques can be used to build maps of the world. Finally, motion planning and other artificial intelligence techniques may be used to figure out how to act. For example, a planner may figure out how to achieve a task without hitting obstacles, falling over, etc. Another classification takes into account the interaction between human control and the machine motions.
Much of the research in robotics focuses not on specific industrial tasks, but on investigations into new types of robots , alternative ways to think about or design robots, and new ways to manufacture them. Other investigations, such as MIT's cyberflora project, are almost wholly academic. A first particular new innovation in robot design is the open sourcing of robot-projects. To describe the level of advancement of a robot, the term "Generation Robots" can be used. First generation robots, Moravec predicted in , should have an intellectual capacity comparable to perhaps a lizard and should become available by Because the first generation robot would be incapable of learning , however, Moravec predicts that the second generation robot would be an improvement over the first and become available by , with the intelligence maybe comparable to that of a mouse.
The third generation robot should have the intelligence comparable to that of a monkey. Though fourth generation robots, robots with human intelligence, professor Moravec predicts, would become possible, he does not predict this happening before around or The second is evolutionary robots. This is a methodology that uses evolutionary computation to help design robots, especially the body form, or motion and behavior controllers.
In a similar way to natural evolution , a large population of robots is allowed to compete in some way, or their ability to perform a task is measured using a fitness function. Those that perform worst are removed from the population and replaced by a new set, which have new behaviors based on those of the winners. Over time the population improves, and eventually a satisfactory robot may appear.
This happens without any direct programming of the robots by the researchers. Researchers use this method both to create better robots,  and to explore the nature of evolution. The study of motion can be divided into kinematics and dynamics. Inverse kinematics refers to the opposite case in which required joint values are calculated for given end effector values, as done in path planning.
Some special aspects of kinematics include handling of redundancy different possibilities of performing the same movement , collision avoidance, and singularity avoidance. Once all relevant positions, velocities, and accelerations have been calculated using kinematics , methods from the field of dynamics are used to study the effect of forces upon these movements.
Direct dynamics refers to the calculation of accelerations in the robot once the applied forces are known. Direct dynamics is used in computer simulations of the robot. Inverse dynamics refers to the calculation of the actuator forces necessary to create a prescribed end-effector acceleration. This information can be used to improve the control algorithms of a robot.
In each area mentioned above, researchers strive to develop new concepts and strategies, improve existing ones, and improve the interaction between these areas. To do this, criteria for "optimal" performance and ways to optimize design, structure, and control of robots must be developed and implemented. Bionics and biomimetics apply the physiology and methods of locomotion of animals to the design of robots. For example, the design of BionicKangaroo was based on the way kangaroos jump. There has been some research into whether robotics algorithms can be run more quickly on quantum computers than they can be run on digital computers.
This area has been referred to as quantum robotics. Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics. First-year computer science courses at some universities now include programming of a robot in addition to traditional software engineering-based coursework. Universities offer bachelors , masters , and doctoral degrees in the field of robotics.
The Robotics Certification Standards Alliance RCSA is an international robotics certification authority that confers various industry- and educational-related robotics certifications. Several national summer camp programs include robotics as part of their core curriculum.
In addition, youth summer robotics programs are frequently offered by celebrated museums and institutions. There are lots of competitions all around the globe. The SeaPerch curriculum is aimed as students of all ages. This is a short list of competition examples; for a more complete list see Robot competition. This competition's goal is to offer younger children an opportunity to start learning about science and technology. Children in this competition build Lego models and have the option of using the Lego WeDo robotics kit.
The idea of this specific competition is that kids start developing knowledge and getting into robotics while playing with Lego since they are 9 years old. This competition is associated with National Instruments. Children use Lego Mindstorms to solve autonomous robotics challenges in this competition.
Robots are built specifically for that year's game. In match play, the robot moves autonomously during the first 15 seconds of the game although certain years such as 's Deep Space change this rule , and is manually operated for the rest of the match. The various RoboCup competitions include teams of teenagers and university students.
These competitions focus on soccer competitions with different types of robots, dance competitions, and urban search and rescue competitions. All of the robots in these competitions must be autonomous. Some of these competitions focus on simulated robots. AUVSI runs competitions for flying robots , robot boats , and underwater robots. As in the AUVSI competitions, the robots must be fully autonomous while they are participating in the competition.
The Microtransat Challenge is a competition to sail a boat across the Atlantic Ocean. RoboGames is open to anyone wishing to compete in their over 50 categories of robot competitions. There are flying robot competitions, robot soccer competitions, and other challenges, including weightlifting barbells made from dowels and CDs.
Many schools across the country are beginning to add robotics programs to their after school curriculum. The Lego company began a program for children to learn and get excited about robotics at a young age. Robotics is an essential component in many modern manufacturing environments. As factories increase their use of robots, the number of robotics—related jobs grow and have been observed to be steadily rising. This close involvement allows our students to gain hands-on experience in real workplaces, and hence leads them to more successful careers.
Much of the research in Systems concerns different aspects of robotics. Such research involves development of motion planning algorithms including obstacle avoidance that incorporate geometric reasoning to navigate mobile robots autonomously and safely among static and dynamic obstacles. It includes algorithms for manipulation by robotic arms with end effectors - mechanical hands or grippers that allow interaction with the surrounding environment and objects.
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