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Incorporating supervisory human inputs into autonomous robot navigation

Description

With robots being used extensively in various areas, a certain degree of robot autonomy has always been found desirable. In applications like planetary exploration, autonomous path planning and navigation are considered essential. But every now and then, a need to

With robots being used extensively in various areas, a certain degree of robot autonomy has always been found desirable. In applications like planetary exploration, autonomous path planning and navigation are considered essential. But every now and then, a need to modify the robot's operation arises, a need for a human to provide it some supervisory parameters that modify the degree of autonomy or allocate extra tasks to the robot. In this regard, this thesis presents an approach to include a provision to accept and incorporate such human inputs and modify the navigation functions of the robot accordingly. Concepts such as applying kinematical constraints while planning paths, traversing of unknown areas with an intent of maximizing field of view, performing complex tasks on command etc. have been examined and implemented. The approaches have been tested in Robot Operating System (ROS), using robots such as the iRobot Create, Personal Robotics (PR2) etc. Simulations and experimental demonstrations have proved that this approach is feasible for solving some of the existing problems and that it certainly can pave way to further research for enhancing functionality.

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2013

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Smooth path planning using splines for unmanned planetary vehicles

Description

One of the main challenges in planetary robotics is to traverse the shortest path through a set of waypoints. The shortest distance between any two waypoints is a direct linear traversal. Often times, there are physical restrictions that prevent a

One of the main challenges in planetary robotics is to traverse the shortest path through a set of waypoints. The shortest distance between any two waypoints is a direct linear traversal. Often times, there are physical restrictions that prevent a rover form traversing straight to a waypoint. Thus, knowledge of the terrain is needed prior to traversal. The Digital Terrain Model (DTM) provides information about the terrain along with waypoints for the rover to traverse. However, traversing a set of waypoints linearly is burdensome, as the rovers would constantly need to modify their orientation as they successively approach waypoints. Although there are various solutions to this problem, this research paper proposes the smooth traversability of the rover using splines as a quick and easy implementation to traverse a set of waypoints. In addition, a rover was used to compare the smoothness of the linear traversal along with the spline interpolations. The data collected illustrated that spline traversals had a less rate of change in the velocity over time, indicating that the rover performed smoother than with linear paths.

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2013

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Model-based design, simulation and automatic code generation for embedded systems and robotic applications

Description

As the complexity of robotic systems and applications grows rapidly, development of high-performance, easy to use, and fully integrated development environments for those systems is inevitable. Model-Based Design (MBD) of dynamic systems using engineering software such as Simulink® from MathWorks®,

As the complexity of robotic systems and applications grows rapidly, development of high-performance, easy to use, and fully integrated development environments for those systems is inevitable. Model-Based Design (MBD) of dynamic systems using engineering software such as Simulink® from MathWorks®, SciCos from Metalau team and SystemModeler® from Wolfram® is quite popular nowadays. They provide tools for modeling, simulation, verification and in some cases automatic code generation for desktop applications, embedded systems and robots. For real-world implementation of models on the actual hardware, those models should be converted into compilable machine code either manually or automatically. Due to the complexity of robotic systems, manual code translation from model to code is not a feasible optimal solution so we need to move towards automated code generation for such systems. MathWorks® offers code generation facilities called Coder® products for this purpose. However in order to fully exploit the power of model-based design and code generation tools for robotic applications, we need to enhance those software systems by adding and modifying toolboxes, files and other artifacts as well as developing guidelines and procedures. In this thesis, an effort has been made to propose a guideline as well as a Simulink® library, StateFlow® interface API and a C/C++ interface API to complete this toolchain for NAO humanoid robots. Thus the model of the hierarchical control architecture can be easily and properly converted to code and built for implementation.

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2013

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Control of 3D human arm impedance

Description

Humans have an inherent capability of performing highly dexterous and skillful tasks with their arms, involving maintaining posture, movement and interacting with the environment. The latter requires for them to control the dynamic characteristics of the upper limb musculoskeletal system.

Humans have an inherent capability of performing highly dexterous and skillful tasks with their arms, involving maintaining posture, movement and interacting with the environment. The latter requires for them to control the dynamic characteristics of the upper limb musculoskeletal system. Inertia, damping and stiffness, a measure of mechanical impedance, gives a strong representation of these characteristics. Many previous studies have shown that the arm posture is a dominant factor for determining the end point impedance in a horizontal plane (transverse plane). The objective of this thesis is to characterize end point impedance of the human arm in the three dimensional (3D) space. Moreover, it investigates and models the control of the arm impedance due to increasing levels of muscle co-contraction. The characterization is done through experimental trials where human subjects maintained arm posture, while perturbed by a robot arm. Moreover, the subjects were asked to control the level of their arm muscles' co-contraction, using visual feedback of their muscles' activation, in order to investigate the effect of the muscle co-contraction on the arm impedance. The results of this study showed a very interesting, anisotropic increase of the arm stiffness due to muscle co-contraction. This can lead to very useful conclusions about the arm biomechanics as well as many implications for human motor control and more specifically the control of arm impedance through muscle co-contraction. The study finds implications for the EMG-based control of robots that physically interact with humans.

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2013

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Closed-form inverse kinematic solution for anthropomorphic motion in redundant robot arms

Description

As robots are increasingly migrating out of factories and research laboratories and into our everyday lives, they should move and act in environments designed for humans. For this reason, the need of anthropomorphic movements is of utmost importance. The objective

As robots are increasingly migrating out of factories and research laboratories and into our everyday lives, they should move and act in environments designed for humans. For this reason, the need of anthropomorphic movements is of utmost importance. The objective of this thesis is to solve the inverse kinematics problem of redundant robot arms that results to anthropomorphic configurations. The swivel angle of the elbow was used as a human arm motion parameter for the robot arm to mimic. The swivel angle is defined as the rotation angle of the plane defined by the upper and lower arm around a virtual axis that connects the shoulder and wrist joints. Using kinematic data recorded from human subjects during every-day life tasks, the linear sensorimotor transformation model was validated and used to estimate the swivel angle, given the desired end-effector position. Defining the desired swivel angle simplifies the kinematic redundancy of the robot arm. The proposed method was tested with an anthropomorphic redundant robot arm and the computed motion profiles were compared to the ones of the human subjects. This thesis shows that the method computes anthropomorphic configurations for the robot arm, even if the robot arm has different link lengths than the human arm and starts its motion at random configurations.

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2013

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Human-robot cooperation: communication and leader-follower dynamics

Description

As robotic systems are used in increasingly diverse applications, the interaction of humans and robots has become an important area of research. In many of the applications of physical human robot interaction (pHRI), the robot and the human can be

As robotic systems are used in increasingly diverse applications, the interaction of humans and robots has become an important area of research. In many of the applications of physical human robot interaction (pHRI), the robot and the human can be seen as cooperating to complete a task with some object of interest. Often these applications are in unstructured environments where many paths can accomplish the goal. This creates a need for the ability to communicate a preferred direction of motion between both participants in order to move in coordinated way. This communication method should be bidirectional to be able to fully utilize both the robot and human capabilities. Moreover, often in cooperative tasks between two humans, one human will operate as the leader of the task and the other as the follower. These roles may switch during the task as needed. The need for communication extends into this area of leader-follower switching. Furthermore, not only is there a need to communicate the desire to switch roles but also to control this switching process. Impedance control has been used as a way of dealing with some of the complexities of pHRI. For this investigation, it was examined if impedance control can be utilized as a way of communicating a preferred direction between humans and robots. The first set of experiments tested to see if a human could detect a preferred direction of a robot by grasping and moving an object coupled to the robot. The second set tested the reverse case if the robot could detect the preferred direction of the human. The ability to detect the preferred direction was shown to be up to 99% effective. Using these results, a control method to allow a human and robot to switch leader and follower roles during a cooperative task was implemented and tested. This method proved successful 84% of the time. This control method was refined using adaptive control resulting in lower interaction forces and a success rate of 95%.

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2014

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Modeling, design and control of multiple low-cost robotic ground vehicles

Description

Toward the ambitious long-term goal of a fleet of cooperating Flexible Autonomous Machines operating in an uncertain Environment (FAME), this thesis addresses several

critical modeling, design and control objectives for ground vehicles. One central objective was to show how off-the-shelf (low-cost)

Toward the ambitious long-term goal of a fleet of cooperating Flexible Autonomous Machines operating in an uncertain Environment (FAME), this thesis addresses several

critical modeling, design and control objectives for ground vehicles. One central objective was to show how off-the-shelf (low-cost) remote-control (RC) “toy” vehicles can be converted into intelligent multi-capability robotic-platforms for conducting FAME research. This is shown for two vehicle classes: (1) six differential-drive (DD) RC vehicles called Thunder Tumbler (DDTT) and (2) one rear-wheel drive (RWD) RC car called Ford F-150 (1:14 scale). Each DDTT-vehicle was augmented to provide a substantive suite of capabilities as summarized below (It should be noted, however, that only one DDTT-vehicle was augmented with an inertial measurement unit (IMU) and 2.4 GHz RC capability): (1) magnetic wheel-encoders/IMU for(dead-reckoning-based) inner-loop speed-control and outer-loop position-directional-control, (2) Arduino Uno microcontroller-board for encoder-based inner-loop speed-control and encoder-IMU-ultrasound-based outer-loop cruise-position-directional-separation-control, (3) Arduino motor-shield for inner-loop motor-speed-control, (4)Raspberry Pi II computer-board for demanding outer-loop vision-based cruise- position-directional-control, (5) Raspberry Pi 5MP camera for outer-loop cruise-position-directional-control (exploiting WiFi to send video back to laptop), (6) forward-pointing ultrasonic distance/rangefinder sensor for outer-loop separation-control, and (7) 2.4 GHz spread-spectrum RC capability to replace original 27/49 MHz RC. Each “enhanced”/ augmented DDTT-vehicle costs less than 􀀀175 but offers the capability of commercially available vehicles costing over 􀀀500. Both the Arduino and Raspberry are low-cost, well-supported (software wise) and easy-to-use. For the vehicle classes considered (i.e. DD, RWD), both kinematic and dynamical (planar xy) models are examined. Suitable nonlinear/linear-models are used to develop inner/outer-loopcontrol laws.

All demonstrations presented involve enhanced DDTT-vehicles; one the F-150; one a quadrotor. The following summarizes key hardware demonstrations: (1) cruise-control along line, (2) position-control along line (3) position-control along curve (4) planar (xy) Cartesian stabilization, (5) cruise-control along jagged line/curve, (6) vehicle-target spacing-control, (7) multi-robot spacing-control along line/curve, (8) tracking slowly-moving remote-controlled quadrotor, (9) avoiding obstacle while moving toward target, (10) RC F-150 followed by DDTT-vehicle. Hardware data/video is compared with, and corroborated by, model-based simulations. In short, many capabilities that are critical for reaching the longer-term FAME goal are demonstrated.

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Date Created
2015

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Load carrying assistance device: pogo suit

Description

Wearable robots including exoskeletons, powered prosthetics, and powered orthotics must add energy to the person at an appropriate time to enhance, augment, or supplement human performance. Adding energy while not being in sync with the user can dramatically hurt performance

Wearable robots including exoskeletons, powered prosthetics, and powered orthotics must add energy to the person at an appropriate time to enhance, augment, or supplement human performance. Adding energy while not being in sync with the user can dramatically hurt performance making it necessary to have correct timing with the user. Many human tasks such as walking, running, and hopping are repeating or cyclic tasks and a robot can add energy in sync with the repeating pattern for assistance. A method has been developed to add energy at the appropriate time to the repeating limit cycle based on a phase oscillator. The phase oscillator eliminates time from the forcing function which is based purely on the motion of the user. This approach has been simulated, implemented and tested in a robotic backpack which facilitates carrying heavy loads. The device oscillates the load of the backpack, based on the motion of the user, in order to add energy at the correct time and thus reduce the amount of energy required for walking with a heavy load. Models were developed in Working Model 2-D, a dynamics simulation software, in conjunction with MATLAB to verify theory and test control methods. The control system developed is robust and has successfully operated on a range of different users, each with their own different and distinct gait. The results of experimental testing validated the corresponding models.

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Date Created
2014

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A graphical language for LTL motion and mission planning

Description

Linear Temporal Logic is gaining increasing popularity as a high level specification language for robot motion planning due to its expressive power and scalability of LTL control synthesis algorithms. This formalism, however, requires expert knowledge and makes it inaccessible to

Linear Temporal Logic is gaining increasing popularity as a high level specification language for robot motion planning due to its expressive power and scalability of LTL control synthesis algorithms. This formalism, however, requires expert knowledge and makes it inaccessible to non-expert users. This thesis introduces a graphical specification environment to create high level motion plans to control robots in the field by converting a visual representation of the motion/task plan into a Linear Temporal Logic (LTL) specification. The visual interface is built on the Android tablet platform and provides functionality to create task plans through a set of well defined gestures and on screen controls. It uses the notion of waypoints to quickly and efficiently describe the motion plan and enables a variety of complex Linear Temporal Logic specifications to be described succinctly and intuitively by the user without the need for the knowledge and understanding of LTL specification. Thus, it opens avenues for its use by personnel in military, warehouse management, and search and rescue missions. This thesis describes the construction of LTL for various scenarios used for robot navigation using the visual interface developed and leverages the use of existing LTL based motion planners to carry out the task plan by a robot.

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Date Created
2013

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Least-squares fit for points measured along line-profiles formed from line and arc segments

Description

Tolerances on line profiles are used to control cross-sectional shapes of parts, such as turbine blades. A full life cycle for many mechanical devices depends (i) on a wise assignment of tolerances during design and (ii) on careful quality control

Tolerances on line profiles are used to control cross-sectional shapes of parts, such as turbine blades. A full life cycle for many mechanical devices depends (i) on a wise assignment of tolerances during design and (ii) on careful quality control of the manufacturing process to ensure adherence to the specified tolerances. This thesis describes a new method for quality control of a manufacturing process by improving the method used to convert measured points on a part to a geometric entity that can be compared directly with tolerance specifications. The focus of this paper is the development of a new computational method for obtaining the least-squares fit of a set of points that have been measured with a coordinate measurement machine along a line-profile. The pseudo-inverse of a rectangular matrix is used to convert the measured points to the least-squares fit of the profile. Numerical examples are included for convex and concave line-profiles, that are formed from line- and circular arc-segments.

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Date Created
2013