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2020


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Vision-based Force Estimation for a da Vinci Instrument Using Deep Neural Networks

Lee, Y., Husin, H. M., Forte, M. P., Lee, S., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Extended abstract presented as an Emerging Technology ePoster at the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), Cleveland, Ohio, USA, August 2020 (misc) Accepted

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[BibTex]

2020


[BibTex]


Learning of sub-optimal gait controllers for magnetic walking soft millirobots
Learning of sub-optimal gait controllers for magnetic walking soft millirobots

Culha, U., Demir, S. O., Trimpe, S., Sitti, M.

In Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems, July 2020, Culha and Demir are equally contributing authors (inproceedings)

Abstract
Untethered small-scale soft robots have promising applications in minimally invasive surgery, targeted drug delivery, and bioengineering applications as they can access confined spaces in the human body. However, due to highly nonlinear soft continuum deformation kinematics, inherent stochastic variability during fabrication at the small scale, and lack of accurate models, the conventional control methods cannot be easily applied. Adaptivity of robot control is additionally crucial for medical operations, as operation environments show large variability, and robot materials may degrade or change over time,which would have deteriorating effects on the robot motion and task performance. Therefore, we propose using a probabilistic learning approach for millimeter-scale magnetic walking soft robots using Bayesian optimization (BO) and Gaussian processes (GPs). Our approach provides a data-efficient learning scheme to find controller parameters while optimizing the stride length performance of the walking soft millirobot robot within a small number of physical experiments. We demonstrate adaptation to fabrication variabilities in three different robots and to walking surfaces with different roughness. We also show an improvement in the learning performance by transferring the learning results of one robot to the others as prior information.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


SIMULTANEOUS CALIBRATION METHOD FOR MAGNETIC LOCALIZATION AND ACTUATION SYSTEMS
SIMULTANEOUS CALIBRATION METHOD FOR MAGNETIC LOCALIZATION AND ACTUATION SYSTEMS

Sitti, M., Son, D., Dong, X.

June 2020, US Patent App. 16/696,605 (misc)

Abstract
The invention relates to a method of simultaneously calibrating magnetic actuation and sensing systems for a workspace, wherein the actuation system comprises a plurality of magnetic actuators and the sensing system comprises a plurality of magnetic sensors, wherein all the measured data is fed into a calibration model, wherein the calibration model is based on a sensor measurement model and a magnetic actuation model, and wherein a solution of the model parameters is found via a numerical solver order to calibrate both the actuation and sensing systems at the same time.

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[BibTex]


A Fabric-Based Sensing System for Recognizing Social Touch
A Fabric-Based Sensing System for Recognizing Social Touch

Burns, R. B., Lee, H., Seifi, H., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Work-in-progress paper (3 pages) presented at the IEEE Haptics Symposium, Washington, DC, USA, March 2020 (misc)

Abstract
We present a fabric-based piezoresistive tactile sensor system designed to detect social touch gestures on a robot. The unique sensor design utilizes three layers of low-conductivity fabric sewn together on alternating edges to form an accordion pattern and secured between two outer high-conductivity layers. This five-layer design demonstrates a greater resistance range and better low-force sensitivity than previous designs that use one layer of low-conductivity fabric with or without a plastic mesh layer. An individual sensor from our system can presently identify six different communication gestures – squeezing, patting, scratching, poking, hand resting without movement, and no touch – with an average accuracy of 90%. A layer of foam can be added beneath the sensor to make a rigid robot more appealing for humans to touch without inhibiting the system’s ability to register social touch gestures.

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


Do Touch Gestures Affect How Electrovibration Feels?
Do Touch Gestures Affect How Electrovibration Feels?

Vardar, Y., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Hands-on demonstration (1 page) presented at the IEEE Haptics Symposium, Washington, DC, USA, March 2020 (misc)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Towards 5-DoF Control of an Untethered Magnetic Millirobot via MRI Gradient Coils
Towards 5-DoF Control of an Untethered Magnetic Millirobot via MRI Gradient Coils

Onder Erin, D. A. M. E. T., Sitti, M.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2020 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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A Real-Robot Dataset for Assessing Transferability of Learned Dynamics Models

Agudelo-España, D., Zadaianchuk, A., Wenk, P., Garg, A., Akpo, J., Grimminger, F., Viereck, J., Naveau, M., Righetti, L., Martius, G., Krause, A., Schölkopf, B., Bauer, S., Wüthrich, M.

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2020 (conference) Accepted

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Project Page PDF [BibTex]

Project Page PDF [BibTex]

2018


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Reducing 3D Vibrations to 1D in Real Time

Park, G., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

pages: 21-24, Hands-on demonstration (4 pages) presented at AsiaHaptics, Incheon, South Korea, November 2018 (misc)

Abstract
For simple and realistic vibrotactile feedback, 3D accelerations from real contact interactions are usually rendered using a single-axis vibration actuator; this dimensional reduction can be performed in many ways. This demonstration implements a real-time conversion system that simultaneously measures 3D accelerations and renders corresponding 1D vibrations using a two-pen interface. In the demonstration, a user freely interacts with various objects using an In-Pen that contains a 3-axis accelerometer. The captured accelerations are converted to a single-axis signal, and an Out-Pen renders the reduced signal for the user to feel. We prepared seven conversion methods from the simple use of a single-axis signal to applying principal component analysis (PCA) so that users can compare the performance of each conversion method in this demonstration.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2018


DOI Project Page [BibTex]


A Large-Scale Fabric-Based Tactile Sensor Using Electrical Resistance Tomography
A Large-Scale Fabric-Based Tactile Sensor Using Electrical Resistance Tomography

Lee, H., Park, K., Kim, J., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

pages: 107-109, Hands-on demonstration (3 pages) presented at AsiaHaptics, Incheon, South Korea, November 2018 (misc)

Abstract
Large-scale tactile sensing is important for household robots and human-robot interaction because contacts can occur all over a robot’s body surface. This paper presents a new fabric-based tactile sensor that is straightforward to manufacture and can cover a large area. The tactile sensor is made of conductive and non-conductive fabric layers, and the electrodes are stitched with conductive thread, so the resulting device is flexible and stretchable. The sensor utilizes internal array electrodes and a reconstruction method called electrical resistance tomography (ERT) to achieve a high spatial resolution with a small number of electrodes. The developed sensor shows that only 16 electrodes can accurately estimate single and multiple contacts over a square that measures 20 cm by 20 cm.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Statistical Modelling of Fingertip Deformations and Contact Forces during Tactile Interaction
Statistical Modelling of Fingertip Deformations and Contact Forces during Tactile Interaction

Gueorguiev, D., Tzionas, D., Pacchierotti, C., Black, M. J., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Extended abstract presented at the Hand, Brain and Technology conference (HBT), Ascona, Switzerland, August 2018 (misc)

Abstract
Little is known about the shape and properties of the human finger during haptic interaction, even though these are essential parameters for controlling wearable finger devices and deliver realistic tactile feedback. This study explores a framework for four-dimensional scanning (3D over time) and modelling of finger-surface interactions, aiming to capture the motion and deformations of the entire finger with high resolution while simultaneously recording the interfacial forces at the contact. Preliminary results show that when the fingertip is actively pressing a rigid surface, it undergoes lateral expansion and proximal/distal bending, deformations that cannot be captured by imaging of the contact area alone. Therefore, we are currently capturing a dataset that will enable us to create a statistical model of the finger’s deformations and predict the contact forces induced by tactile interaction with objects. This technique could improve current methods for tactile rendering in wearable haptic devices, which rely on general physical modelling of the skin’s compliance, by developing an accurate model of the variations in finger properties across the human population. The availability of such a model will also enable a more realistic simulation of virtual finger behaviour in virtual reality (VR) environments, as well as the ability to accurately model a specific user’s finger from lower resolution data. It may also be relevant for inferring the physical properties of the underlying tissue from observing the surface mesh deformations, as previously shown for body tissues.

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Assessment Of Atypical Motor Development In Infants Through Toy-Stimulated Play And Center Of Pressure Analysis

Zhao, S., Mohan, M., Torres, W. O., Bogen, D. K., Shofer, F. S., Prosser, L., Loeb, H., Johnson, M. J.

In Proceedings of the Annual Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Conference, Arlington, USA, July 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
There is a need to identify measures and create systems to assess motor development at an early stage. Center of Pressure (CoP) is a quantifiable metric that has been used to investigate postural control in healthy young children [6], children with CP [7], and infants just beginning to sit [8]. It was found that infants born prematurely exhibit different patterns of CoP movement than infants born full-term when assessing development impairments relating to postural control [9]. Preterm infants exhibited greater CoP excursions but had greater variability in their movements than fullterm infants. Our solution, the Play And Neuro-Development Assessment (PANDA) Gym, is a sensorized environment that aims to provide early diagnosis of neuromotor disorder in infants and improve current screening processes by providing quantitative measures rather than subjective ones, and promoting natural play with the stimulus of toys. Previous studies have documented stages in motor development in infants [10, 11], and developmental delays could become more apparent through toy interactions. This study examines the sensitivity of the pressure-sensitive mat subsystem to detect differences in CoP movement patterns for preterm and fullterm infants less than 6 months of age, with varying risk levels. This study aims to distinguish between typical and atypical motor development through assessment of the CoP data of infants in a natural play environment, in conditions where movement may be further stimulated with the presence of a toy.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Reducing 3D Vibrations to 1D in Real Time

Park, G., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Hands-on demonstration presented at EuroHaptics, Pisa, Italy, June 2018 (misc)

Abstract
In this demonstration, you will hold two pen-shaped modules: an in-pen and an out-pen. The in-pen is instrumented with a high-bandwidth three-axis accelerometer, and the out-pen contains a one-axis voice coil actuator. Use the in-pen to interact with different surfaces; the measured 3D accelerations are continually converted into 1D vibrations and rendered with the out-pen for you to feel. You can test conversion methods that range from simply selecting a single axis to applying a discrete Fourier transform or principal component analysis for realistic and brisk real-time conversion.

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Haptipedia: Exploring Haptic Device Design Through Interactive Visualizations

Seifi, H., Fazlollahi, F., Park, G., Kuchenbecker, K. J., MacLean, K. E.

Hands-on demonstration presented at EuroHaptics, Pisa, Italy, June 2018 (misc)

Abstract
How many haptic devices have been proposed in the last 30 years? How can we leverage this rich source of design knowledge to inspire future innovations? Our goal is to make historical haptic invention accessible through interactive visualization of a comprehensive library – a Haptipedia – of devices that have been annotated with designer-relevant metadata. In this demonstration, participants can explore Haptipedia’s growing library of grounded force feedback devices through several prototype visualizations, interact with 3D simulations of the device mechanisms and movements, and tell us about the attributes and devices that could make Haptipedia a useful resource for the haptic design community.

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Delivering 6-DOF Fingertip Tactile Cues

Young, E., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Work-in-progress paper (5 pages) presented at EuroHaptics, Pisa, Italy, June 2018 (misc)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


Designing a Haptic Empathetic Robot Animal for Children with Autism
Designing a Haptic Empathetic Robot Animal for Children with Autism

Burns, R., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Workshop paper (4 pages) presented at the Robotics: Science and Systems Workshop on Robot-Mediated Autism Intervention: Hardware, Software and Curriculum, Pittsburgh, USA, June 2018 (misc)

Abstract
Children with autism often endure sensory overload, may be nonverbal, and have difficulty understanding and relaying emotions. These experiences result in heightened stress during social interaction. Animal-assisted intervention has been found to improve the behavior of children with autism during social interaction, but live animal companions are not always feasible. We are thus in the process of designing a robotic animal to mimic some successful characteristics of animal-assisted intervention while trying to improve on others. The over-arching hypothesis of this research is that an appropriately designed robot animal can reduce stress in children with autism and empower them to engage in social interaction.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Soft Multi-Axis Boundary-Electrode Tactile Sensors for Whole-Body Robotic Skin

Lee, H., Kim, J., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Workshop paper (2 pages) presented at the RSS Pioneers Workshop, Pittsburgh, USA, June 2018 (misc)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Arm-Worn Tactile Displays

Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Cross-Cutting Challenge Interactive Discussion presented at the IEEE Haptics Symposium, San Francisco, USA, March 2018 (misc)

Abstract
Fingertips and hands captivate the attention of most haptic interface designers, but humans can feel touch stimuli across the entire body surface. Trying to create devices that both can be worn and can deliver good haptic sensations raises challenges that rarely arise in other contexts. Most notably, tactile cues such as vibration, tapping, and squeezing are far simpler to implement in wearable systems than kinesthetic haptic feedback. This interactive discussion will present a variety of relevant projects to which I have contributed, attempting to pull out common themes and ideas for the future.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Haptipedia: An Expert-Sourced Interactive Device Visualization for Haptic Designers
Haptipedia: An Expert-Sourced Interactive Device Visualization for Haptic Designers

Seifi, H., MacLean, K. E., Kuchenbecker, K. J., Park, G.

Work-in-progress paper (3 pages) presented at the IEEE Haptics Symposium, San Francisco, USA, March 2018 (misc)

Abstract
Much of three decades of haptic device invention is effectively lost to today’s designers: dispersion across time, region, and discipline imposes an incalculable drag on innovation in this field. Our goal is to make historical haptic invention accessible through interactive navigation of a comprehensive library – a Haptipedia – of devices that have been annotated with designer-relevant metadata. To build this open resource, we will systematically mine the literature and engage the haptics community for expert annotation. In a multi-year broad-based initiative, we will empirically derive salient attributes of haptic devices, design an interactive visualization tool where device creators and repurposers can efficiently explore and search Haptipedia, and establish methods and tools to manually and algorithmically collect data from the haptics literature and our community of experts. This paper outlines progress in compiling an initial corpus of grounded force-feedback devices and their attributes, and it presents a concept sketch of the interface we envision.

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Exercising with Baxter: Design and Evaluation of Assistive Social-Physical Human-Robot Interaction

Fitter, N. T., Mohan, M., Kuchenbecker, K. J., Johnson, M. J.

Workshop paper (6 pages) presented at the HRI Workshop on Personal Robots for Exercising and Coaching, Chicago, USA, March 2018 (misc)

Abstract
The worldwide population of older adults is steadily increasing and will soon exceed the capacity of assisted living facilities. Accordingly, we aim to understand whether appropriately designed robots could help older adults stay active and engaged while living at home. We developed eight human-robot exercise games for the Baxter Research Robot with the guidance of experts in game design, therapy, and rehabilitation. After extensive iteration, these games were employed in a user study that tested their viability with 20 younger and 20 older adult users. All participants were willing to enter Baxter’s workspace and physically interact with the robot. User trust and confidence in Baxter increased significantly between pre- and post-experiment assessments, and one individual from the target user population supplied us with abundant positive feedback about her experience. The preliminary results presented in this paper indicate potential for the use of two-armed human-scale robots for social-physical exercise interaction.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Defining Social Robot Roles in Rehabilitation Based on Observed Patient-Therapist Interactions in Stroke Therapy

Johnson, M., Mohan, M., Mendonca, R.

Workshop paper (2 pages) presented at the HRI Workshop on Social Robots in Therapy: Focusing on Autonomy and Ethical Challenges, Chicago, USA, March 2018 (misc)

Abstract
In this paper, we discuss how to improve robot-patient interactions in task-oriented stroke therapy, which currently do not accurately model therapist-patient interactions in the real world. From observations of patient-therapist interactions in task-oriented stroke therapy captured in 8 videos, we describe three dyads of interactions where the therapist and the patient take on a set of acting states or roles and are motivated to move from one role to another when certain physical or verbal stimuli or cues are sensed and received. We propose possible model for robot-patient interaction and discuss challenges to its implementation, including the ethics

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


Emotionally Supporting Humans Through Robot Hugs
Emotionally Supporting Humans Through Robot Hugs

Block, A. E., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Workshop paper (2 pages) presented at the HRI Pioneers Workshop, Chicago, USA, March 2018 (misc)

Abstract
Hugs are one of the first forms of contact and affection humans experience. Due to their prevalence and health benefits, we want to enable robots to safely hug humans. This research strives to create and study a high fidelity robotic system that provides emotional support to people through hugs. This paper outlines our previous work evaluating human responses to a prototype’s physical and behavioral characteristics, and then it lays out our ongoing and future work.

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link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Towards a Statistical Model of Fingertip Contact Deformations from 4{D} Data
Towards a Statistical Model of Fingertip Contact Deformations from 4D Data

Gueorguiev, D., Tzionas, D., Pacchierotti, C., Black, M. J., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Work-in-progress paper (3 pages) presented at the IEEE Haptics Symposium, San Francisco, USA, March 2018 (misc)

Abstract
Little is known about the shape and properties of the human finger during haptic interaction even though this knowledge is essential to control wearable finger devices and deliver realistic tactile feedback. This study explores a framework for four-dimensional scanning and modeling of finger-surface interactions, aiming to capture the motion and deformations of the entire finger with high resolution. The results show that when the fingertip is actively pressing a rigid surface, it undergoes lateral expansion of about 0.2 cm and proximal/distal bending of about 30◦, deformations that cannot be captured by imaging of the contact area alone. This project constitutes a first step towards an accurate statistical model of the finger’s behavior during haptic interaction.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Can Humans Infer Haptic Surface Properties from Images?

Burka, A., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Work-in-progress paper (3 pages) presented at the IEEE Haptics Symposium, San Francisco, USA, March 2018 (misc)

Abstract
Human children typically experience their surroundings both visually and haptically, providing ample opportunities to learn rich cross-sensory associations. To thrive in human environments and interact with the real world, robots also need to build models of these cross-sensory associations; current advances in machine learning should make it possible to infer models from large amounts of data. We previously built a visuo-haptic sensing device, the Proton Pack, and are using it to collect a large database of matched multimodal data from tool-surface interactions. As a benchmark to compare with machine learning performance, we conducted a human subject study (n = 84) on estimating haptic surface properties (here: hardness, roughness, friction, and warmness) from images. Using a 100-surface subset of our database, we showed images to study participants and collected 5635 ratings of the four haptic properties, which we compared with ratings made by the Proton Pack operator and with physical data recorded using motion, force, and vibration sensors. Preliminary results indicate weak correlation between participant and operator ratings, but potential for matching up certain human ratings (particularly hardness and roughness) with features from the literature.

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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On Time Optimization of Centroidal Momentum Dynamics

Ponton, B., Herzog, A., Del Prete, A., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 5776-5782, IEEE, Brisbane, Australia, 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recently, the centroidal momentum dynamics has received substantial attention to plan dynamically consistent motions for robots with arms and legs in multi-contact scenarios. However, it is also non convex which renders any optimization approach difficult and timing is usually kept fixed in most trajectory optimization techniques to not introduce additional non convexities to the problem. But this can limit the versatility of the algorithms. In our previous work, we proposed a convex relaxation of the problem that allowed to efficiently compute momentum trajectories and contact forces. However, our approach could not minimize a desired angular momentum objective which seriously limited its applicability. Noticing that the non-convexity introduced by the time variables is of similar nature as the centroidal dynamics one, we propose two convex relaxations to the problem based on trust regions and soft constraints. The resulting approaches can compute time-optimized dynamically consistent trajectories sufficiently fast to make the approach realtime capable. The performance of the algorithm is demonstrated in several multi-contact scenarios for a humanoid robot. In particular, we show that the proposed convex relaxation of the original problem finds solutions that are consistent with the original non-convex problem and illustrate how timing optimization allows to find motion plans that would be difficult to plan with fixed timing † †Implementation details and demos can be found in the source code available at https://git-amd.tuebingen.mpg.de/bponton/timeoptimization.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Enhanced Non-Steady Gliding Performance of the MultiMo-Bat through Optimal Airfoil Configuration and Control Strategy

Kim, H., Woodward, M. A., Sitti, M.

In 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pages: 1382-1388, 2018 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Collectives of Spinning Mobile Microrobots for Navigation and Object Manipulation at the Air-Water Interface

Wang, W., Kishore, V., Koens, L., Lauga, E., Sitti, M.

In 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pages: 1-9, 2018 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Endo-VMFuseNet: A Deep Visual-Magnetic Sensor Fusion Approach for Endoscopic Capsule Robots

Turan, M., Almalioglu, Y., Gilbert, H. B., Sari, A. E., Soylu, U., Sitti, M.

In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1-7, 2018 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Endosensorfusion: Particle filtering-based multi-sensory data fusion with switching state-space model for endoscopic capsule robots

Turan, M., Almalioglu, Y., Gilbert, H., Araujo, H., Cemgil, T., Sitti, M.

In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1-8, 2018 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Unsupervised Contact Learning for Humanoid Estimation and Control

Rotella, N., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 411-417, IEEE, Brisbane, Australia, 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This work presents a method for contact state estimation using fuzzy clustering to learn contact probability for full, six-dimensional humanoid contacts. The data required for training is solely from proprioceptive sensors - endeffector contact wrench sensors and inertial measurement units (IMUs) - and the method is completely unsupervised. The resulting cluster means are used to efficiently compute the probability of contact in each of the six endeffector degrees of freedom (DoFs) independently. This clustering-based contact probability estimator is validated in a kinematics-based base state estimator in a simulation environment with realistic added sensor noise for locomotion over rough, low-friction terrain on which the robot is subject to foot slip and rotation. The proposed base state estimator which utilizes these six DoF contact probability estimates is shown to perform considerably better than that which determines kinematic contact constraints purely based on measured normal force.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Learning Task-Specific Dynamics to Improve Whole-Body Control

Gams, A., Mason, S., Ude, A., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In Hua, IEEE, Beijing, China, November 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In task-based inverse dynamics control, reference accelerations used to follow a desired plan can be broken down into feedforward and feedback trajectories. The feedback term accounts for tracking errors that are caused from inaccurate dynamic models or external disturbances. On underactuated, free-floating robots, such as humanoids, high feedback terms can be used to improve tracking accuracy; however, this can lead to very stiff behavior or poor tracking accuracy due to limited control bandwidth. In this paper, we show how to reduce the required contribution of the feedback controller by incorporating learned task-space reference accelerations. Thus, we i) improve the execution of the given specific task, and ii) offer the means to reduce feedback gains, providing for greater compliance of the system. With a systematic approach we also reduce heuristic tuning of the model parameters and feedback gains, often present in real-world experiments. In contrast to learning task-specific joint-torques, which might produce a similar effect but can lead to poor generalization, our approach directly learns the task-space dynamics of the center of mass of a humanoid robot. Simulated and real-world results on the lower part of the Sarcos Hermes humanoid robot demonstrate the applicability of the approach.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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An MPC Walking Framework With External Contact Forces

Mason, S., Rotella, N., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1785-1790, IEEE, Brisbane, Australia, May 2018 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this work, we present an extension to a linear Model Predictive Control (MPC) scheme that plans external contact forces for the robot when given multiple contact locations and their corresponding friction cone. To this end, we set up a two-step optimization problem. In the first optimization, we compute the Center of Mass (CoM) trajectory, foot step locations, and introduce slack variables to account for violating the imposed constraints on the Zero Moment Point (ZMP). We then use the slack variables to trigger the second optimization, in which we calculate the optimal external force that compensates for the ZMP tracking error. This optimization considers multiple contacts positions within the environment by formulating the problem as a Mixed Integer Quadratic Program (MIQP) that can be solved at a speed between 100-300 Hz. Once contact is created, the MIQP reduces to a single Quadratic Program (QP) that can be solved in real-time ({\textless}; 1kHz). Simulations show that the presented walking control scheme can withstand disturbances 2-3× larger with the additional force provided by a hand contact.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2016


Steering control of a water-running robot using an active tail
Steering control of a water-running robot using an active tail

Kim, H., Jeong, K., Sitti, M., Seo, T.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 4945-4950, October 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Many highly dynamic novel mobile robots have been developed being inspired by animals. In this study, we are inspired by a basilisk lizard's ability to run and steer on water surface for a hexapedal robot. The robot has an active tail with a circular plate, which the robot rotates to steer on water. We dynamically modeled the platform and conducted simulations and experiments on steering locomotion with a bang-bang controller. The robot can steer on water by rotating the tail, and the controlled steering locomotion is stable. The dynamic modelling approximates the robot's steering locomotion and the trends of the simulations and experiments are similar, although there are errors between the desired and actual angles. The robot's maneuverability on water can be improved through further research.

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DOI [BibTex]

2016


DOI [BibTex]


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Quantifying Therapist Practitioner Roles Using Video-based Analysis: Can We Reliably Model Therapist-Patient Interactions During Task-Oriented Therapy?

Mendonca, R., Johnson, M. J., Laskin, S., Adair, L., Mohan, M.

pages: E55-E56, Abstract in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, October 2016 (misc)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Targeting of cell mockups using sperm-shaped microrobots in vitro
Targeting of cell mockups using sperm-shaped microrobots in vitro

Khalil, I. S., Tabak, A. F., Hosney, A., Klingner, A., Shalaby, M., Abdel-Kader, R. M., Serry, M., Sitti, M.

In Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob), 2016 6th IEEE International Conference on, pages: 495-501, July 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Sperm-shaped microrobots are controlled under the influence of weak oscillating magnetic fields (milliTesla range) to selectively target cell mockups (i.e., gas bubbles with average diameter of 200 μm). The sperm-shaped microrobots are fabricated by electrospinning using a solution of polystyrene, dimethylformamide, and iron oxide nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are concentrated within the head of the microrobot, and hence enable directional control along external magnetic fields. The magnetic dipole moment of the microrobot is characterized (using the flip-time technique) to be 1.4×10-11 A.m2, at magnetic field of 28 mT. In addition, the morphology of the microrobot is characterized using Scanning Electron Microscopy images. The characterized parameters and morphology are used in the simulation of the locomotion mechanism of the microrobot to prove that its motion depends on breaking the time-reversal symmetry, rather than pulling with the magnetic field gradient. We experimentally demonstrate that the microrobot can controllably follow S-shaped, U-shaped, and square paths, and selectively target the cell mockups using image guidance and under the influence of the oscillating magnetic fields.

pi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Analysis of the magnetic torque on a tilted permanent magnet for drug delivery in capsule robots
Analysis of the magnetic torque on a tilted permanent magnet for drug delivery in capsule robots

Munoz, F., Alici, G., Zhou, H., Li, W., Sitti, M.

In Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), 2016 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 1386-1391, July 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we present the analysis of the torque transmitted to a tilted permanent magnet that is to be embedded in a capsule robot to achieve targeted drug delivery. This analysis is carried out by using an analytical model and experimental results for a small cubic permanent magnet that is driven by an external magnetic system made of an array of arc-shaped permanent magnets (ASMs). Our experimental results, which are in agreement with the analytical results, show that the cubic permanent magnet can safely be actuated for inclinations lower than 75° without having to make positional adjustments in the external magnetic system. We have found that with further inclinations, the cubic permanent magnet to be embedded in a drug delivery mechanism may stall. When it stalls, the external magnetic system's position and orientation would have to be adjusted to actuate the cubic permanent magnet and the drug release mechanism. This analysis of the transmitted torque is helpful for the development of real-time control strategies for magnetically articulated devices.

pi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Sperm-shaped magnetic microrobots: Fabrication using electrospinning, modeling, and characterization
Sperm-shaped magnetic microrobots: Fabrication using electrospinning, modeling, and characterization

Khalil, I. S., Tabak, A. F., Hosney, A., Mohamed, A., Klingner, A., Ghoneima, M., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2016 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 1939-1944, May 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We use electrospinning to fabricate sperm-shaped magnetic microrobots with a range of diameters from 50 μm to 500 μm. The variables of the electrospinning operation (voltage, concentration of the solution, dynamic viscosity, and distance between the syringe needle and collector) to achieve beading effect are determined. This beading effect allows us to fabricate microrobots with similar morphology to that of sperm cells. The bead and the ultra-fine fiber resemble the morphology of the head and tail of the sperm cell, respectively. We incorporate iron oxide nanoparticles to the head of the sperm-shaped microrobot to provide a magnetic dipole moment. This dipole enables directional control under the influence of external magnetic fields. We also apply weak (less than 2 mT) oscillating magnetic fields to exert a magnetic torque on the magnetic head, and generate planar flagellar waves and flagellated swim. The average speed of the sperm-shaped microrobot is calculated to be 0.5 body lengths per second and 1 body lengths per second at frequencies of 5 Hz and 10 Hz, respectively. We also develop a model of the microrobot using elastohydrodynamics approach and Timoshenko-Rayleigh beam theory, and find good agreement with the experimental results.

pi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Design of a Low-Cost Platform for Autonomous Mobile Service Robots

Eaton, E., Mucchiani, C., Mohan, M., Isele, D., Luná, J. M., Clingerman, C.

Workshop paper (7 pages) presented at the 25th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) Workshop on Autonomous Mobile Service Robots, New York, USA, 2016 (misc)

Abstract
Most current autonomous mobile service robots are either expensive commercial platforms or custom manufactured for research environments, limiting their availability. We present the design for a lowcost service robot based on the widely used TurtleBot 2 platform, with the goal of making service robots affordable and accessible to the research, educational, and hobbyist communities. Our design uses a set of simple and inexpensive modifications to transform the TurtleBot 2 into a 4.5ft (1.37m) tall tour-guide or telepresence-style robot, capable of performing a wide variety of indoor service tasks. The resulting platform provides a shoulder-height touchscreen and 3D camera for interaction, an optional low-cost arm for manipulation, enhanced onboard computation, autonomous charging, and up to 6 hours of runtime. The resulting platform can support many of the tasks performed by significantly more expensive service robots. For compatibility with existing software packages, the service robot runs the Robot Operating System (ROS).

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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On the Effects of Measurement Uncertainty in Optimal Control of Contact Interactions

Ponton, B., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In The 12th International Workshop on the Algorithmic Foundations of Robotics WAFR, Berkeley, USA, 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Stochastic Optimal Control (SOC) typically considers noise only in the process model, i.e. unknown disturbances. However, in many robotic applications involving interaction with the environment, such as locomotion and manipulation, uncertainty also comes from lack of precise knowledge of the world, which is not an actual disturbance. We analyze the effects of also considering noise in the measurement model, by devel- oping a SOC algorithm based on risk-sensitive control, that includes the dynamics of an observer in such a way that the control law explicitly de- pends on the current measurement uncertainty. In simulation results on a simple 2D manipulator, we have observed that measurement uncertainty leads to low impedance behaviors, a result in contrast with the effects of process noise that creates stiff behaviors. This suggests that taking into account measurement uncertainty could be a potentially very interesting way to approach problems involving uncertain contact interactions.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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A Convex Model of Momentum Dynamics for Multi-Contact Motion Generation

Ponton, B., Herzog, A., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2016 IEEE-RAS 16th International Conference on Humanoid Robots Humanoids, pages: 842-849, IEEE, Cancun, Mexico, 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Linear models for control and motion generation of humanoid robots have received significant attention in the past years, not only due to their well known theoretical guarantees, but also because of practical computational advantages. However, to tackle more challenging tasks and scenarios such as locomotion on uneven terrain, a more expressive model is required. In this paper, we are interested in contact interaction-centered motion optimization based on the momentum dynamics model. This model is non-linear and non-convex; however, we find a relaxation of the problem that allows us to formulate it as a single convex quadratically-constrained quadratic program (QCQP) that can be very efficiently optimized and is useful for multi-contact planning. This convex model is then coupled to the optimization of end-effector contact locations using a mixed integer program, which can also be efficiently solved. This becomes relevant e.g. to recover from external pushes, where a predefined stepping plan is likely to fail and an online adaptation of the contact location is needed. The performance of our algorithm is demonstrated in several multi-contact scenarios for a humanoid robot.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Inertial Sensor-Based Humanoid Joint State Estimation

Rotella, N., Mason, S., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2016 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 1825-1831, IEEE, Stockholm, Sweden, 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This work presents methods for the determination of a humanoid robot's joint velocities and accelerations directly from link-mounted Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) each containing a three-axis gyroscope and a three-axis accelerometer. No information about the global pose of the floating base or its links is required and precise knowledge of the link IMU poses is not necessary due to presented calibration routines. Additionally, a filter is introduced to fuse gyroscope angular velocities with joint position measurements and compensate the computed joint velocities for time-varying gyroscope biases. The resulting joint velocities are subject to less noise and delay than filtered velocities computed from numerical differentiation of joint potentiometer signals, leading to superior performance in joint feedback control as demonstrated in experiments performed on a SARCOS hydraulic humanoid.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Stepping Stabilization Using a Combination of DCM Tracking and Step Adjustment

Khadiv, M., Kleff, S., Herzog, A., Moosavian, S. A. A., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2016 4th International Conference on Robotics and Mechatronics (ICROM), pages: 130-135, IEEE, Teheran, Iran, 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, a method for stabilizing biped robots stepping by a combination of Divergent Component of Motion (DCM) tracking and step adjustment is proposed. In this method, the DCM trajectory is generated, consistent with the predefined footprints. Furthermore, a swing foot trajectory modification strategy is proposed to adapt the landing point, using DCM measurement. In order to apply the generated trajectories to the full robot, a Hierarchical Inverse Dynamics (HID) is employed. The HID enables us to use different combinations of the DCM tracking and step adjustment for stabilizing different biped robots. Simulation experiments on two scenarios for two different simulated robots, one with active ankles and the other with passive ankles, are carried out. Simulation results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method for robots with both active and passive ankles.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Structured contact force optimization for kino-dynamic motion generation

Herzog, A., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pages: 2703-2710, IEEE, Daejeon, South Korea, 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Optimal control approaches in combination with trajectory optimization have recently proven to be a promising control strategy for legged robots. Computationally efficient and robust algorithms were derived using simplified models of the contact interaction between robot and environment such as the linear inverted pendulum model (LIPM). However, as humanoid robots enter more complex environments, less restrictive models become increasingly important. As we leave the regime of linear models, we need to build dedicated solvers that can compute interaction forces together with consistent kinematic plans for the whole-body. In this paper, we address the problem of planning robot motion and interaction forces for legged robots given predefined contact surfaces. The motion generation process is decomposed into two alternating parts computing force and motion plans in coherence. We focus on the properties of the momentum computation leading to sparse optimal control formulations to be exploited by a dedicated solver. In our experiments, we demonstrate that our motion generation algorithm computes consistent contact forces and joint trajectories for our humanoid robot. We also demonstrate the favorable time complexity due to our formulation and composition of the momentum equations.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Balancing and Walking Using Full Dynamics LQR Control With Contact Constraints

Mason, S., Rotella, N., Schaal, S., Righetti, L.

In 2016 IEEE-RAS 16th International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), pages: 63-68, IEEE, Cancun, Mexico, 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Torque control algorithms which consider robot dynamics and contact constraints are important for creating dynamic behaviors for humanoids. As computational power increases, algorithms tend to also increase in complexity. However, it is not clear how much complexity is really required to create controllers which exhibit good performance. In this paper, we study the capabilities of a simple approach based on contact consistent LQR controllers designed around key poses to control various tasks on a humanoid robot. We present extensive experimental results on a hydraulic, torque controlled humanoid performing balancing and stepping tasks. This feedback control approach captures the necessary synergies between the DoFs of the robot to guarantee good control performance. We show that for the considered tasks, it is only necessary to re-linearize the dynamics of the robot at different contact configurations and that increasing the number of LQR controllers along desired trajectories does not improve performance. Our result suggest that very simple controllers can yield good performance competitive with current state of the art, but more complex, optimization-based whole-body controllers. A video of the experiments can be found at https://youtu.be/5T08CNKV1hw.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Step Timing Adjustement: a Step toward Generating Robust Gaits

Khadiv, M., Herzog, A., Moosavian, S. A. A., Righetti, L.

In 2016 IEEE-RAS 16th International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), pages: 35-42, IEEE, Cancun, Mexico, 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Step adjustment for humanoid robots has been shown to improve robustness in gaits. However, step duration adaptation is often neglected in control strategies. In this paper, we propose an approach that combines both step location and timing adjustment for generating robust gaits. In this approach, step location and step timing are decided, based on feedback from the current state of the robot. The proposed approach is comprised of two stages. In the first stage, the nominal step location and step duration for the next step or a previewed number of steps are specified. In this stage which is done at the start of each step, the main goal is to specify the best step length and step duration for a desired walking speed. The second stage deals with finding the best landing point and landing time of the swing foot at each control cycle. In this stage, stability of the gaits is preserved by specifying a desired offset between the swing foot landing point and the Divergent Component of Motion (DCM) at the end of current step. After specifying the landing point of the swing foot at a desired time, the swing foot trajectory is regenerated at each control cycle to realize desired landing properties. Simulation on different scenarios shows the robustness of the generated gaits from our proposed approach compared to the case where no timing adjustment is employed.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2015


Compliant wing design for a flapping wing micro air vehicle
Compliant wing design for a flapping wing micro air vehicle

Colmenares, D., Kania, R., Zhang, W., Sitti, M.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 32-39, September 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this work, we examine several wing designs for a motor-driven, flapping-wing micro air vehicle capable of liftoff. The full system consists of two wings independently driven by geared pager motors that include a spring in parallel with the output shaft. The linear transmission allows for resonant operation, while control is achieved by direct drive of the wing angle. Wings used in previous work were chosen to be fully rigid for simplicity of modeling and fabrication. However, biological wings are highly flexible and other micro air vehicles have successfully utilized flexible wing structures for specialized tasks. The goal of our study is to determine if wing flexibility can be generally used to increase wing performance. Two approaches to lift improvement using flexible wings are explored, resonance of the wing cantilever structure and dynamic wing twisting. We design and test several wings that are compared using different figures of merit. A twisted design improved lift per power by 73.6% and maximum lift production by 53.2% compared to the original rigid design. Wing twist is then modeled in order to propose optimal wing twist profiles that can maximize either wing efficiency or lift production.

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DOI [BibTex]

2015


DOI [BibTex]


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Millimeter-scale magnetic swimmers using elastomeric undulations

Zhang, J., Diller, E.

In 2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pages: 1706-1711, September 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper presents a new soft-bodied millimeterscale swimmer actuated by rotating uniform magnetic fields. The proposed swimmer moves through internal undulatory deformations, resulting from a magnetization profile programmed into its body. To understand the motion of the swimmer, a mathematical model is developed to describe the general relationship between the deflection of a flexible strip and its magnetization profile. As a special case, the situation of the swimmer on the water surface is analyzed and predictions made by the model are experimentally verified. Experimental results show the controllability of the proposed swimmer under a computer vision-based closed-loop controller. The swimmers have nominal dimensions of 1.5×4.9×0.06 mm and a top speed of 50 mm/s (10 body lengths per second). Waypoint following and multiagent control are demonstrated for swimmers constrained at the air-water interface and underwater swimming is also shown, suggesting the promising potential of this type of swimmer in biomedical and microfluidic applications.

pi

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Fiberbot: A miniature crawling robot using a directional fibrillar pad
Fiberbot: A miniature crawling robot using a directional fibrillar pad

Han, Y., Marvi, H., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2015 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 3122-3127, May 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Vibration-driven locomotion has been widely used for crawling robot studies. Such robots usually have a vibration motor as the actuator and a fibrillar structure for providing directional friction on the substrate. However, there has not been any studies about the effect of fiber structure on robot crawling performance. In this paper, we develop Fiberbot, a custom made mini vibration robot, for studying the effect of fiber angle on robot velocity, steering, and climbing performance. It is known that the friction force with and against fibers depends on the fiber angle. Thus, we first present a new fabrication method for making millimeter scale fibers at a wide range of angles. We then show that using 30° angle fibers that have the highest friction anisotropy (ratio of backward to forward friction force) among the other fibers we fabricated in this study, Fiberbot speed on glass increases to 13.8±0.4 cm/s (compared to ν = 0.6±0.1 cm/s using vertical fibers). We also demonstrate that the locomotion direction of Fiberbot depends on the tilting direction of fibers and we can steer the robot by rotating the fiber pad. Fiberbot could also climb on glass at inclinations of up to 10° when equipped with fibers of high friction anisotropy. We show that adding a rigid tail to the robot it can climb on glass at 25° inclines. Moreover, the robot is able to crawl on rough surfaces such as wood (ν = 10.0±0.2 cm/s using 30° fiber pad). Fiberbot, a low-cost vibration robot equipped with a custom-designed fiber pad with steering and climbing capabilities could be used for studies on collective behavior on a wide range of topographies as well as search and exploratory missions.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Platform design and tethered flight of a motor-driven flapping-wing system
Platform design and tethered flight of a motor-driven flapping-wing system

Hines, L., Colmenares, D., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2015 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 5838-5845, May 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this work, we examine two design modifications to a tethered motor-driven flapping-wing system. Previously, we had demonstrated a simple mechanism utilizing a linear transmission for resonant operation and direct drive of the wing flapping angle for control. The initial two-wing system had a weight of 2.7 grams and a maximum lift-to-weight ratio of 1.4. While capable of vertical takeoff, in open-loop flight it demonstrated instability and pitch oscillations at the wing flapping frequency, leading to flight times of only a few wing strokes. Here the effect of vertical wing offset as well as an alternative multi-wing layout is investigated and experimentally tested with newly constructed prototypes. With only a change in vertical wing offset, stable open-loop flight of the two-wing flapping system is shown to be theoretically possible, but difficult to achieve with our current design and operating parameters. Both of the new two and four-wing systems, however, prove capable of flying to the end of the tether, with the four-wing system prototype eliminating disruptive wing beat oscillations.

pi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Human Machine Interface for Dexto Eka: - The humanoid robot

Kumra, S., Mohan, M., Gupta, S., Vaswani, H.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics, Automation, Control and Embedded Systems (RACE), Chennai, India, Febuary 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper illustrates hybrid control system of the humanoid robot, Dexto:Eka: focusing on the dependent or slave mode. Efficiency of any system depends on the fluid operation of its control system. Here, we elucidate the control of 12 DoF robotic arms and an omnidirectional mecanum wheel drive using an exo-frame, and a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and a control column. This paper comprises of algorithms, control mechanisms and overall flow of execution for the regulation of robotic arms, graphical user interface and locomotion.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Conception and development of Dexto:Eka: The Humanoid Robot - Part IV

Kumra, S., Mohan, M., Vaswani, H., Gupta, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics, Automation, Control and Embedded Systems (RACE), Febuary 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper elucidates the fourth phase of the development of `Dexto:Eka: - The Humanoid Robot'. It lays special emphasis on the conception of the locomotion drive and the development of vision based system that aids navigation and tele-operation. The first three phases terminated with the completion of two robotic arms with six degrees of freedom each, structural development and the creation of a human machine interface that included an exo-frame, a control column and a graphical user interface. This phase also involved the enhancement of the exo-frame to a vision based system using a Kinect camera. The paper also focuses on the reasons behind choosing the locomotion drive and the benefits it has.

hi

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]