A Constructivist Approach and Tool for Autonomous Agent Bottom-up Sequential Learning

During the initial phase of cognitive development, infants exhibit amazing abilities to generate novel behaviors in unfamiliar situations, and explore actively to learn the best while lacking extrinsic rewards from the environment. These abilities set them apart from even the most advanced autonomous robots. This work seeks to contribute to understand and replicate some of these abilities. We propose the Bottom-up hiErarchical sequential Learning algorithm with Constructivist pAradigm (BEL-CA) to design agents capable of learning autonomously and continuously through interactions. The algorithm implements no assumption about the semantics of input and output data. It does not rely upon a model of the world given a priori in the form of a set of states and transitions as well. Besides, we propose a toolkit to analyze the learning process at run time called GAIT (Generating and Analyzing Interaction Traces). We use GAIT to report and explain the detailed learning process and the structured behaviors that the agent has learned on each decision making. We report an experiment in which the agent learned to successfully interact with its environment and to avoid unfavorable interactions using regularities discovered through interaction.

Using Lagrange Equations to Study the Relative Motion of a Mechanism

The relative motion of a robotic arm formed by homogeneous bars of different lengths and masses, hinged to each other is investigated. The first bar of the mechanism is articulated on a platform, considered initially fixed on the surface of the Earth, while for the second case the platform is considered to be in rotation with respect to the Earth. For both analyzed cases the motion equations are determined using the Lagrangian formalism, applied in its traditional form, valid with respect to an inertial reference system, conventionally considered as fixed. However, in the second case, a generalized form of the formalism valid with respect to a non-inertial reference frame will also be applied. The numerical calculations were performed using a MATLAB program.

Robust Stabilization of Rotational Motion of Underwater Robots against Parameter Uncertainties

This paper provides a robust stabilization method for rotational motion of underwater robots against parameter uncertainties. Underwater robots are expected to be used for various work assignments. The large variety of applications of underwater robots motivates researchers to develop control systems and technologies for underwater robots. Several control methods have been proposed so far for the stabilization of nominal system model of underwater robots with no parameter uncertainty. Parameter uncertainties are considered to be obstacles in implementation of the such nominal control methods for underwater robots. The objective of this study is to establish a robust stabilization method for rotational motion of underwater robots against parameter uncertainties. The effectiveness of the proposed method is verified by numerical simulations.

Robotic Assistance in Nursing Care: Survey on Challenges and Scenarios

Robotic assistance in nursing care is an increasingly important area of research and development. Facing a shortage of labor and an increasing number of people in need of care, the German Nursing Care Innovation Center (Pflegeinnovationszentrum, PIZ) aims to address these challenges from the side of technology. Little is known about nurses experiences with existing robotic assistance systems. Especially nurses perspectives on starting points for the development of robotic solutions, that target recurring burdensome tasks in everyday nursing care, are of interest. This paper presents findings focusing on robotics resulting from an explanatory mixed-methods study on nurses experiences with and their expectations for innovative technologies in nursing care in stationary and ambulant care facilities and hospitals in Germany. Based on the findings, eight scenarios for robotic assistance are identified based on the real needs of practitioners. An initial system addressing a single use-case is described to show perspectives for the use of robots in nursing care.

Model Free Terminal Sliding Mode with Gravity Compensation: Application to an Exoskeleton-Upper Limb System

This paper deals with a robust model free terminal sliding mode with gravity compensation approach used to control an exoskeleton-upper limb system. The considered system is a 2-DoF robot in interaction with an upper limb used for rehabilitation. The aim of this paper is to control the flexion/extension movement of the shoulder and the elbow joints in presence of matched disturbances. In the first part, we present the exoskeleton-upper limb system modeling. Then, we controlled the considered system by the model free terminal sliding mode with gravity compensation. A stability study is realized. To prove the controller performance, a robustness analysis was needed. Simulation results are provided to confirm the robustness of the gravity compensation combined with to the Model free terminal sliding mode in presence of uncertainties.

Effect of Wavy Leading-Edges on Wings in Different Planetary Atmospheres

Today we are unmarking the secrets of the universe by exploring different stars and planets and most of the space exploration is done by unmanned space robots. In addition to our planet Earth, there are pieces of evidence that show other astronomical objects in our solar system such as Venus, Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan and Uranus support the flight of fixed wing air vehicles. In this paper, we take forward the concept of presence of large rounded tubercles along the leading edge of a wing and use it as a passive flow control device that will help in improving its aerodynamic performance and maneuverability. Furthermore, in this research, aerodynamic measurements and performance analysis of wavy leading tubercles on the fixed wings at 5-degree angle of attack are carried out after determination of the flow conditions on the selected planetary bodies. Wavelength and amplitude for the sinusoidal modifications on the leading edge are analyzed and simulations are carried out for three-dimensional NACA 0012 airfoil maintaining unity AR (Aspect Ratio). Tubercles have consistently demonstrated the ability to delay and decrease the severity of stall as per the studies were done in the Earth’s atmosphere. Implementing the same design on the leading edges of Micro-Air Vehicles (MAVs) and UAVs could make these aircrafts more stable over a greater range of angles of attack in different planetary environments of our solar system.

Dynamic Stall Characterization of Low Reynolds Airfoil in Mars and Titan’s Atmosphere

Exploratory missions to Mars and Titan have increased recently with various endeavors to find an alternate home to humankind. The use of surface rovers has its limitations due to rugged and uneven surfaces of these planetary bodies. The use of aerial robots requires the complete aerodynamic characterization of these vehicles in the atmospheric conditions of these planetary bodies. The dynamic stall phenomenon is extremely important for rotary wings performance under low Reynolds number that can be encountered in Martian and Titan’s atmosphere. The current research focuses on the aerodynamic characterization and exploration of the dynamic stall phenomenon of two different airfoils viz. E387 and Selig-Donovan7003 in Martian and Titan’s atmosphere at low Reynolds numbers of 10000 and 50000. The two-dimensional numerical simulations are conducted using commercially available finite volume solver with multi-species non-reacting mixture of gases as the working fluid. The k-epsilon (k-ε) turbulence model is used to capture the unsteady flow separation and the effect of turbulence. The dynamic characteristics are studied at a fixed different constant rotational extreme of angles of attack. This study of airfoils at different low Reynolds number and atmospheric conditions on Mars and Titan will be resulting in defining the aerodynamic characteristics of these airfoils for unmanned aerial missions for outer space exploration.

Deep Learning Application for Object Image Recognition and Robot Automatic Grasping

Since the vision system application in industrial environment for autonomous purposes is required intensely, the image recognition technique becomes an important research topic. Here, deep learning algorithm is employed in image system to recognize the industrial object and integrate with a 7A6 Series Manipulator for object automatic gripping task. PC and Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) are chosen to construct the 3D Vision Recognition System. Depth Camera (Intel RealSense SR300) is employed to extract the image for object recognition and coordinate derivation. The YOLOv2 scheme is adopted in Convolution neural network (CNN) structure for object classification and center point prediction. Additionally, image processing strategy is used to find the object contour for calculating the object orientation angle. Then, the specified object location and orientation information are sent to robotic controller. Finally, a six-axis manipulator can grasp the specific object in a random environment based on the user command and the extracted image information. The experimental results show that YOLOv2 has been successfully employed to detect the object location and category with confidence near 0.9 and 3D position error less than 0.4 mm. It is useful for future intelligent robotic application in industrial 4.0 environment.

Self-Organizing Map Network for Wheeled Robot Movement Optimization

The paper investigates the application of the Kohonen’s Self-Organizing Map (SOM) to the wheeled robot starting and braking dynamic states. In securing wheeled robot stability as well as minimum starting and braking time, it is important to ensure correct torque distribution as well as proper slope of braking and driving moments. In this paper, a correct movement distribution has been formulated, securing optimum adhesion coefficient and good transversal stability of a wheeled robot. A neural tuner has been proposed to secure the above properties, although most of the attention is attached to the SOM network application. If the delay of the torque application or torque release is not negligible, it is important to change the rising and falling slopes of the torque. The road/surface condition is also paramount in robot dynamic states control. As the road conditions may randomly change in time, application of the SOM network has been suggested in order to classify the actual road conditions.

Non-Linear Control Based on State Estimation for the Convoy of Autonomous Vehicles

In this paper, a longitudinal and lateral control approach based on a nonlinear observer is proposed for a convoy of autonomous vehicles to follow a desired trajectory. To authors best knowledge, this topic has not yet been sufficiently addressed in the literature for the control of multi vehicles. The modeling of the convoy of the vehicles is revisited using a robotic method for simulation purposes and control design. With these models, a sliding mode observer is proposed to estimate the states of each vehicle in the convoy from the available sensors, then a sliding mode control based on this observer is used to control the longitudinal and lateral movement. The validation and performance evaluation are done using the well-known driving simulator Scanner-Studio. The results are presented for different maneuvers of 5 vehicles.

Design of Reconfigurable Supernumerary Robotic Limb Based on Differential Actuated Joints

This paper presents a wearable reconfigurable supernumerary robotic limb with differential actuated joints, which is lightweight, compact and comfortable for the wearers. Compared to the existing supernumerary robotic limbs which mostly adopted series structure with large movement space but poor carrying capacity, a prototype with the series-parallel configuration to better adapt to different task requirements has been developed in this design. To achieve a compact structure, two kinds of cable-driven mechanical structures based on guide pulleys and differential actuated joints were designed. Moreover, two different tension devices were also designed to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the cable-driven transmission. The proposed device also employed self-designed bearings which greatly simplified the structure and reduced the cost.

Hybrid Gravity Gradient Inversion-Ant Colony Optimization Algorithm for Motion Planning of Mobile Robots

Motion planning is a common task required to be fulfilled by robots. A strategy combining Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) and gravity gradient inversion algorithm is proposed for motion planning of mobile robots. In this paper, in order to realize optimal motion planning strategy, the cost function in ACO is designed based on gravity gradient inversion algorithm. The obstacles around mobile robot can cause gravity gradient anomalies; the gradiometer is installed on the mobile robot to detect the gravity gradient anomalies. After obtaining the anomalies, gravity gradient inversion algorithm is employed to calculate relative distance and orientation between mobile robot and obstacles. The relative distance and orientation deduced from gravity gradient inversion algorithm is employed as cost function in ACO algorithm to realize motion planning. The proposed strategy is validated by the simulation and experiment results.

Training Undergraduate Engineering Students in Robotics and Automation through Model-Based Design Training: A Case Study at Assumption University of Thailand

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered pedagogy that originated in the medical field and has also been used extensively in other knowledge disciplines with recognized advantages and limitations. PBL has been used in various undergraduate engineering programs with mixed outcomes. The current fourth industrial revolution (digital era or Industry 4.0) has made it essential for many science and engineering students to receive effective training in advanced courses such as industrial automation and robotics. This paper presents a case study at Assumption University of Thailand, where a PBL-like approach was used to teach some aspects of automation and robotics to selected groups of undergraduate engineering students. These students were given some basic level training in automation prior to participating in a subsequent training session in order to solve technical problems with increased complexity. The participating students’ evaluation of the training sessions in terms of learning effectiveness, skills enhancement, and incremental knowledge following the problem-solving session was captured through a follow-up survey consisting of 14 questions and a 5-point scoring system. From the most recent training event, an overall 70% of the respondents indicated that their skill levels were enhanced to a much greater level than they had had before the training, whereas 60.4% of the respondents from the same event indicated that their incremental knowledge following the session was much greater than what they had prior to the training. The instructor-facilitator involved in the training events suggested that this method of learning was more suitable for senior/advanced level students than those at the freshmen level as certain skills to effectively participate in such problem-solving sessions are acquired over a period of time, and not instantly.

Real-Time Episodic Memory Construction for Optimal Action Selection in Cognitive Robotics

The three most important components in the cognitive architecture for cognitive robotics is memory representation, memory recall, and action-selection performed by the executive. In this paper, action selection, performed by the executive, is defined as a memory quantification and optimization process. The methodology describes the real-time construction of episodic memory through semantic memory optimization. The optimization is performed by set-based particle swarm optimization, using an adaptive entropy memory quantification approach for fitness evaluation. The performance of the approach is experimentally evaluated by simulation, where a UAV is tasked with the collection and delivery of a medical package. The experiments show that the UAV dynamically uses the episodic memory to autonomously control its velocity, while successfully completing its mission.

Vision Based People Tracking System

In this paper we present the design and the implementation of a target tracking system where the target is set to be a moving person in a video sequence. The system can be applied easily as a vision system for mobile robot. The system is composed of two major parts the first is the detection of the person in the video frame using the SVM learning machine based on the “HOG” descriptors. The second part is the tracking of a moving person it’s done by using a combination of the Kalman filter and a modified version of the Camshift tracking algorithm by adding the target motion feature to the color feature, the experimental results had shown that the new algorithm had overcame the traditional Camshift algorithm in robustness and in case of occlusion.

An Application of Path Planning Algorithms for Autonomous Inspection of Buried Pipes with Swarm Robots

This paper aims to demonstrate how various algorithms can be implemented within swarms of autonomous robots to provide continuous inspection within underground pipeline networks. Current methods of fault detection within pipes are costly, time consuming and inefficient. As such, solutions tend toward a more reactive approach, repairing faults, as opposed to proactively seeking leaks and blockages. The paper presents an efficient inspection method, showing that autonomous swarm robotics is a viable way of monitoring underground infrastructure. Tailored adaptations of various Vehicle Routing Problems (VRP) and path-planning algorithms provide a customised inspection procedure for complicated networks of underground pipes. The performance of multiple algorithms is compared to determine their effectiveness and feasibility. Notable inspirations come from ant colonies and stigmergy, graph theory, the k-Chinese Postman Problem ( -CPP) and traffic theory. Unlike most swarm behaviours which rely on fast communication between agents, underground pipe networks are a highly challenging communication environment with extremely limited communication ranges. This is due to the extreme variability in the pipe conditions and relatively high attenuation of acoustic and radio waves with which robots would usually communicate. This paper illustrates how to optimise the inspection process and how to increase the frequency with which the robots pass each other, without compromising the routes they are able to take to cover the whole network.

Monomial Form Approach to Rectangular Surface Modeling

Geometric modeling plays an important role in the constructions and manufacturing of curve, surface and solid modeling. Their algorithms are critically important not only in the automobile, ship and aircraft manufacturing business, but are also absolutely necessary in a wide variety of modern applications, e.g., robotics, optimization, computer vision, data analytics and visualization. The calculation and display of geometric objects can be accomplished by these six techniques: Polynomial basis, Recursive, Iterative, Coefficient matrix, Polar form approach and Pyramidal algorithms. In this research, the coefficient matrix (simply called monomial form approach) will be used to model polynomial rectangular patches, i.e., Said-Ball, Wang-Ball, DP, Dejdumrong and NB1 surfaces. Some examples of the monomial forms for these surface modeling are illustrated in many aspects, e.g., construction, derivatives, model transformation, degree elevation and degress reduction.

Combined Model Predictive Controller Technique for Enhancing NAO Gait Stabilization

The humanoid robot, specifically the NAO robot must be able to provide a highly dynamic performance on the soccer field. Maintaining the balance of the humanoid robot during the required motion is considered as one of a challenging problems especially when the robot is subject to external disturbances, as contact with other robots. In this paper, a dynamic controller is proposed in order to ensure a robust walking (stabilization) and to improve the dynamic balance of the robot during its contact with the environment (external disturbances). The generation of the trajectory of the center of mass (CoM) is done by a model predictive controller (MPC) conjoined with zero moment point (ZMP) technique. Taking into account the properties of the rotational dynamics of the whole-body system, a modified previous control mixed with feedback control is employed to manage the angular momentum and the CoM’s acceleration, respectively. This latter is dedicated to provide a robust gait of the robot in the presence of the external disturbances. Simulation results are presented to show the feasibility of the proposed strategy.

A Study on the Factors Affecting Student Behavior Intention to Attend Robotics Courses at the Primary and Secondary School Levels

In order to explore the key factors affecting the robot program learning intention of school students, this study takes the technology acceptance model as the theoretical basis and invites 167 students from Jiading District of Shanghai as the research subjects. In the robot course, the model of school students on their learning behavior is constructed. By verifying the causal path relationship between variables, it is concluded that teachers can enhance students’ perceptual usefulness to robotics courses by enhancing subjective norms, entertainment perception, and reducing technical anxiety, such as focusing on the gradual progress of programming and analyzing learner characteristics. Students can improve perceived ease of use by enhancing self-efficacy. At the same time, robot hardware designers can optimize in terms of entertainment and interactivity, which will directly or indirectly increase the learning intention of the robot course. By changing these factors, the learning behavior of primary and secondary school students can be more sustainable.

A Brain Controlled Robotic Gait Trainer for Neurorehabilitation

This paper discusses a brain controlled robotic gait trainer for neurorehabilitation of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) patients. Patients suffering from Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) become unable to execute motion control of their lower proximities due to degeneration of spinal cord neurons. The presented approach can help SCI patients in neuro-rehabilitation training by directly translating patient motor imagery into walkers motion commands and thus bypassing spinal cord neurons completely. A non-invasive EEG based brain-computer interface is used for capturing patient neural activity. For signal processing and classification, an open source software (OpenVibe) is used. Classifiers categorize the patient motor imagery (MI) into a specific set of commands that are further translated into walker motion commands. The robotic walker also employs fall detection for ensuring safety of patient during gait training and can act as a support for SCI patients. The gait trainer is tested with subjects, and satisfactory results were achieved.