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2012


Development of a Minimalistic Pneumatic Quadruped Robot for Fast Locomotion
Development of a Minimalistic Pneumatic Quadruped Robot for Fast Locomotion

Narioka, K., Rosendo, A., Spröwitz, A., Hosoda, K.

In Proceedings of the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics (ROBIO), 2012, pages: 307-311, IEEE, Guangzhou, 2012 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we describe the development of the quadruped robot ”Ken” with the minimalistic and lightweight body design for achieving fast locomotion. We use McKibben pneumatic artificial muscles as actuators, providing high frequency and wide stride motion of limbs, also avoiding problems with overheating. We conducted a preliminary experiment, finding out that the robot can swing its limb over 7.5 Hz without amplitude reduction, nor heat problems. Moreover, the robot realized a several steps of bouncing gait by using simple CPG-based open loop controller, indicating that the robot can generate enough torque to kick the ground and limb contraction to avoid stumbling.

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DOI [BibTex]

2012


DOI [BibTex]


Locomotion through Reconfiguration based on Motor Primitives for Roombots Self-Reconfigurable Modular Robots
Locomotion through Reconfiguration based on Motor Primitives for Roombots Self-Reconfigurable Modular Robots

Bonardi, S., Moeckel, R., Spröwitz, A., Vespignani, M., Ijspeert, A. J.

In Robotics; Proceedings of ROBOTIK 2012; 7th German Conference on, pages: 1-6, 2012 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present the hardware and reconfiguration experiments for an autonomous self-reconfigurable modular robot called Roombots (RB). RB were designed to form the basis for self-reconfigurable furniture. Each RB module contains three degrees of freedom that have been carefully selected to allow a single module to reach any position on a 2-dimensional grid and to overcome concave corners in a 3-dimensional grid. For the first time we demonstrate locomotion capabilities of single RB modules through reconfiguration with real hardware. The locomotion through reconfiguration is controlled by a planner combining the well-known D* algorithm and composed motor primitives. The novelty of our approach is the use of an online running hierarchical planner closely linked to the real hardware.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Burn-in, bias, and the rationality of anchoring

Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L., Goodman, N. D.

Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 25, pages: 2699-2707, 2012 (article)

Abstract
Bayesian inference provides a unifying framework for addressing problems in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics, as well as the problems facing the human mind. Unfortunately, exact Bayesian inference is intractable in all but the simplest models. Therefore minds and machines have to approximate Bayesian inference. Approximate inference algorithms can achieve a wide range of time-accuracy tradeoffs, but what is the optimal tradeoff? We investigate time-accuracy tradeoffs using the Metropolis-Hastings algorithm as a metaphor for the mind's inference algorithm(s). We find that reasonably accurate decisions are possible long before the Markov chain has converged to the posterior distribution, i.e. during the period known as burn-in. Therefore the strategy that is optimal subject to the mind's bounded processing speed and opportunity costs may perform so few iterations that the resulting samples are biased towards the initial value. The resulting cognitive process model provides a rational basis for the anchoring-and-adjustment heuristic. The model's quantitative predictions are tested against published data on anchoring in numerical estimation tasks. Our theoretical and empirical results suggest that the anchoring bias is consistent with approximate Bayesian inference.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]

2010


Graph signature for self-reconfiguration planning of modules with symmetry
Graph signature for self-reconfiguration planning of modules with symmetry

Asadpour, M., Ashtiani, M. H. Z., Spröwitz, A., Ijspeert, A. J.

In Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 5295-5300, IEEE, St. Louis, MO, 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In our previous works we had developed a framework for self-reconfiguration planning based on graph signature and graph edit-distance. The graph signature is a fast isomorphism test between different configurations and the graph edit-distance is a similarity metric. But the algorithm is not suitable for modules with symmetry. In this paper we improve the algorithm in order to deal with symmetric modules. Also, we present a new heuristic function to guide the search strategy by penalizing the solutions with more number of actions. The simulation results show the new algorithm not only deals with symmetric modules successfully but also finds better solutions in a shorter time.

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DOI [BibTex]

2010


DOI [BibTex]


Roombots - Towards decentralized reconfiguration with self-reconfiguring modular robotic metamodules
Roombots - Towards decentralized reconfiguration with self-reconfiguring modular robotic metamodules

Spröwitz, A., Laprade, P., Bonardi, S., Mayer, M., Moeckel, R., Mudry, P., Ijspeert, A. J.

In Proceedings of the 2010 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pages: 1126-1132, IEEE, Taipeh, 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper presents our work towards a decentralized reconfiguration strategy for self-reconfiguring modular robots, assembling furniture-like structures from Roombots (RB) metamodules. We explore how reconfiguration by loco- motion from a configuration A to a configuration B can be controlled in a distributed fashion. This is done using Roombots metamodules—two Roombots modules connected serially—that use broadcast signals, lookup tables of their movement space, assumptions about their neighborhood, and connections to a structured surface to collectively build desired structures without the need of a centralized planner.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Roombots: Reconfigurable Robots for Adaptive Furniture
Roombots: Reconfigurable Robots for Adaptive Furniture

Spröwitz, A., Pouya, S., Bonardi, S., van den Kieboom, J., Möckel, R., Billard, A., Dillenbourg, P., Ijspeert, A.

Computational Intelligence Magazine, IEEE, 5(3):20-32, 2010 (article)

Abstract
Imagine a world in which our furniture moves around like legged robots, interacts with us, and changes shape and function during the day according to our needs. This is the long term vision we have in the Roombots project. To work towards this dream, we are developing modular robotic modules that have rotational degrees of freedom for locomotion as well as active connection mechanisms for runtime reconfiguration. A piece of furniture, e.g. a stool, will thus be composed of several modules that activate their rotational joints together to implement locomotor gaits, and will be able to change shape, e.g. transforming into a chair, by sequences of attachments and detachments of modules. In this article, we firstly present the project and the hardware we are currently developing. We explore how reconfiguration from a configuration A to a configuration B can be controlled in a distributed fashion. This is done using metamodules-two Roombots modules connected serially-that use broadcast signals and connections to a structured ground to collectively build desired structures without the need of a centralized planner. We then present how locomotion controllers can be implemented in a distributed system of coupled oscillators-one per degree of freedom-similarly to the concept of central pattern generators (CPGs) found in the spinal cord of vertebrate animals. The CPGs are based on coupled phase oscillators to ensure synchronized behavior and have different output filters to allow switching between oscillations and rotations. A stochastic optimization algorithm is used to explore optimal CPG configurations for different simulated Roombots structures.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Distributed Online Learning of Central Pattern Generators in Modular Robots
Distributed Online Learning of Central Pattern Generators in Modular Robots

Christensen, D. J., Spröwitz, A., Ijspeert, A. J.

In From Animals to Animats 11, 6226, pages: 402-412, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer, Berlin, 2010, author: Doncieux, Stéphan (incollection)

Abstract
In this paper we study distributed online learning of locomotion gaits for modular robots. The learning is based on a stochastic ap- proximation method, SPSA, which optimizes the parameters of coupled oscillators used to generate periodic actuation patterns. The strategy is implemented in a distributed fashion, based on a globally shared reward signal, but otherwise utilizing local communication only. In a physics-based simulation of modular Roombots robots we experiment with online learn- ing of gaits and study the effects of: module failures, different robot morphologies, and rough terrains. The experiments demonstrate fast online learning, typically 5-30 min. for convergence to high performing gaits (≈ 30 cm/sec), despite high numbers of open parameters (45-54). We conclude that the proposed approach is efficient, effective and a promising candidate for online learning on many other robotic platforms.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Automatic Gait Generation in Modular Robots: to Oscillate or to Rotate? that is the question
Automatic Gait Generation in Modular Robots: to Oscillate or to Rotate? that is the question

Pouya, S., van den Kieboom, J., Spröwitz, A., Ijspeert, A. J.

In Proceedings of the 2010 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pages: 514-520, IEEE, Taipei, 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Modular robots offer the possibility to design robots with a high diversity of shapes and functionalities. This nice feature also brings an important challenge: namely how to design efficient locomotion gaits for arbitrary robot structures with many degrees of freedom. In this paper, we present a framework that allows one to explore and identify highly different gaits for a given arbitrary- shaped modular robot. We use simulated robots made of several Roombots modules that have three rotational joints each. These modules have the interesting feature that they can produce both oscillatory movements (i.e. periodic movements around a rest position) and rotational movements (i.e. with continuously increasing angle), leading to very rich locomotion patterns. Here we ask ourselves which types of movements —purely oscillatory, purely rotational, or a combination of both— lead to the fastest gaits. To address this question we designed a control architecture based on a distributed system of coupled phase oscillators that can produce synchronized rotations and oscillations in many degrees of freedom. We also designed a specific optimization algorithm that can automatically design hybrid controllers, i.e. controllers that use oscillations in some joints and rotations in others, for fast gaits. The proposed framework is verified by multiple simulations for several robot morphologies. The results show that (i) the question whether it is better to oscillate or to rotate depends on the morphology of the robot, and that in general it is best to do both, (ii) the optimization framework can successfully generate hybrid controllers that outperform purely oscillatory and purely rotational ones, and (iii) the resulting gaits are fast, innovative, and would have been hard to design by hand.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Roombots: Design and Implementation of a Modular Robot for Reconfiguration and Locomotion
Roombots: Design and Implementation of a Modular Robot for Reconfiguration and Locomotion

Spröwitz, A.

EPFL, Lausanne, Lausanne, 2010 (phdthesis)

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DOI [BibTex]

2009


Roombots-mechanical design of self-reconfiguring modular robots for adaptive furniture
Roombots-mechanical design of self-reconfiguring modular robots for adaptive furniture

Spröwitz, A., Billard, A., Dillenbourg, P., Ijspeert, A. J.

In Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pages: 4259-4264, IEEE, Kobe, 2009 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We aim at merging technologies from information technology, roomware, and robotics in order to design adaptive and intelligent furniture. This paper presents design principles for our modular robots, called Roombots, as future building blocks for furniture that moves and self-reconfigures. The reconfiguration is done using dynamic connection and disconnection of modules and rotations of the degrees of freedom. We are furthermore interested in applying Roombots towards adaptive behaviour, such as online learning of locomotion patterns. To create coordinated and efficient gait patterns, we use a Central Pattern Generator (CPG) approach, which can easily be optimized by any gradient-free optimization algorithm. To provide a hardware framework we present the mechanical design of the Roombots modules and an active connection mechanism based on physical latches. Further we discuss the application of our Roombots modules as pieces of a homogenic or heterogenic mix of building blocks for static structures.

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DOI [BibTex]

2009


DOI [BibTex]

2004


Simple and low-cost compliant leg-foot system
Simple and low-cost compliant leg-foot system

Meyer, F., Spröwitz, A., Lungarella, M., Berthouze, L.

In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2004), 1, pages: 515-520, IEEE, Sendai, Japan, 2004 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present the design of a simple and low- cost humanoid leg-foot system featuring compliant joints and springy feet. The mechanical compliance of the individual joints can be adjusted by means of visco-elastic material, or metal. To explore some of the relevant characteristics of the proposed system, we performed a series of experiments in which the leg was dropped from a fixed height. Combinations of different materials in the joints (silicone rubber, latex, and brass) as well as a rigid or a compliant foot were used. Additional data were obtained through of a Lagrangian analysis of the leg-foot system. Our analyses show that compliant joints not only reduce impactive forces, but also induce smoother joint trajectories. Further, by employing a compliant foot, a higher energy efficiency for the movement is achieved.

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DOI [BibTex]

2004


DOI [BibTex]