|Scalable Approaches to Deploying Large Networks of Robots|
Chair, Mechanical Engineering & Applied Mechanics,
University of Pennsylvania
Networked robots represent the convergence of robotics, sensor networks and mobile ad-hoc networks, with many applications and a growing market projected to be $200B in 2013. This talk will focus the fundamental problems and practical issues underlying the deployment of large numbers of autonomously functioning robots. The central problem is the so-called inverse problem of deriving individual robot behaviors for a desired group behavior. There are numerous examples of group behavior in biology which suggest that analysis of swarming behaviors in biology may provide insight for the synthesis of collective behaviors for engineered systems. I will present a methodology for modeling and analyzing such collective behaviors and discuss architectures, abstractions and algorithms for the control of large networks of robots.
|Programmable Matter with Self-reconfiguring Robots|
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science,
We wish to create programmable matter by using smart modules capable of self-reconfiguration: hundreds of small modules autonomously organize and reorganize as geometric structures to best fit the terrain on which the robot has to move, the shape of the object the robot has to manipulate, or the sensing needs for the given task. Large collections of small robot modules actively organize as the most optimal geometric structure to perform useful coordinated work.
A self-reconfiguring robot consists of a set of modules that can dynamically and autonomously reconfigure in a variety of shapes, to best fit the terrain, environment, and task. Self-reconfiguration leads to versatile robots that can support multiple modalities of locomotion, manipulation, and perception.
This talk will discuss the challenges of creating programmable matter, ranging from designing hardware capable of self-reconfiguration, to developing distributed controllers and planners for such systems that are scalable, adaptive, and support real-time behavior. We will discuss a spectrum of mechanical and computational capabilities for such system and detail two recent robots developed for ground and underwater applications of programmable matter.
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Robotics is rapidly expanding into human environments and vigorously engaged in its new emerging challenges. Interacting, exploring, and working with humans, the new generation of robots will increasingly touch people and their lives. The successful introduction of robots in human environments will rely on the development of competent and practical systems that are dependable, safe, and easy to use. This presentation focuses on our ongoing effort to develop human-friendly robotic systems that combine the essential characteristics of safety, human-compatibility, and performance. In the area of human-friendly robot design, our effort has focused on new design concepts for the development of intrinsically safe robotic systems that possess the requisite capabilities and performance to interact and work with humans.
Robot design has traditionally relied on the use of rigid structures and powerful motor/gear systems in order to achieve fast motions and produce the needed contact forces. While suited for multitude of tasks in industrial robot applications, the resulting systems are certainly unsafe for human interaction, as they can lead to hazardous impact forces should the robot unexpectedly collide with its environment. Our work on human-friendly robot design has led to a novel actuation approach, that is based on the so-called Distributed Macro Mini (DM2) Actuation concept. DM2 combines the use of small motors at the joints with pneumatic, muscle-like actuators remotely connected by cables. With this hybrid actuation, the impedance of the resulting robot is decreased by an order of magnitude, making it substantially safer without sacrificing performance. To further increase the robot safety during its interactions with humans, we have developed an impact absorbent skin that covers its structure. In the area of human-motion synthesis, our objective has been to analyze human motion to unveil its underlying characteristics through the elaboration of its physiological basis, and to formulate general strategies for interactive whole-body robot control.
Our exploration has employed models of human musculoskeletal dynamics and used extensive experimental studies of human subjects with motion capture techniques. This investigation has revealed the dominant role physiological characteristics play in shaping human motion. Using these characteristics we develop generic motion behaviors that efficiently and effectively encode some basic human motion behaviors. To implement these behaviors on robots with complex human-like structures, we developed a unified whole-body task-oriented control structure that addresses dynamics in the context of multiple tasks, multi-point contacts, and multiple constraints. The performance and effectiveness of this approach are demonstrated through extensive robot dynamic simulations and implementations on physical robots for experimental validation.
|Ronald S. Fearing,
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science,
Centimeter-scale robots will create the opportunity to manipulate, sense and explore a wide range of environments with greatly reduced cost and expanded capabilities. In many applications, the capability of millirobots depends on three factors: 1) intelligence, 2) mobility, and 3) multiplicity. For intelligent macroscale robots, one can almost say that planning, sensing, computation, and control capabilities are available off-the-shelf. However, at the centimeter and smaller scale, we are finding more cases where intelligent behavior does not depend on explicit algorithms, but arises from the intrinsic mechanics. The study of small animals such as flies and lizards has lead to ``implicit intelligence'' principles which can be applied to biomimetic millirobots. There remain significant challenges for millirobots in creating all-terrain mobility, and low production costs for multiplicity. However, there are advantages to this size scale for novel low-cost fabrication methods, including rapid prototyping of millirobots. This talk provides an overview of some key challenges in biomimetic millirobots, with examples in legged and winged millirobots made using carbon fiber.
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|Sponsored by: Department of Computer Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Insitute