First Day of Safety, Security and Rescue Robots 2010 (SSRR-2010)

Currently I’m participating at the workshop of Safety, Security and Rescue Robots 2010 in Bremen.

The first day is now gone and a lot of interesting talks have been given:

Tetsuya Kinugasa has shown a Flexible Displacement Sensor in his talk of „Measurement of Flexed Posture for Mono-tread Mobile Track Using New Flexible Displacement Sensor„. His group develops and uses this sensor to control the posture of a robot which is a combination of snake, worm and tank.

Jimmy Tran presented his works on „Canine Assisted Robot Deployment for Urban Search and Rescue„. The basic idea is as simple as brilliant, use a equipped dog to find victims and to inform operators about him. So, dogs are well used in rescue and they have a high mobility. They can easily overcome huge rubles and are able to carry video cameras or rescue material. So, his approach is to use the dogs to deploy a small robot next to a victim, which would allow to investigate medical status of the person. The idea is hilarious.

Development of leg-track hybrid locomotion to traverse loose slopes and irregular terrain“ is so far the most interesting technical approach of this workshop. It shows a way how a tracked like vehicle can be combined with a semi-Walker.

Donny Kurnia Sutantyo  presented his work on „Multi-Robot Searching Algorithm Using Levy Flight and Artificial Potential Field„, while Julian de Hoog showed a solution for team exploration in „Dynamic Team Hierarchies in Communication-Limited Multi-Robot Exploration“.

The invited speaker Bernardo Wagner showed the outcomes of his department. The Leibniz University of Hannover has worked intensively in the field of „Perception and Navigation with 3D Laser Range Data in Challenging Environments„.

Potential Field based Approach for Coordinate Exploration with a Multi-Robot Team“ is topic of Alessandro Renzaglia.

Bin Li showed another nice approach of a shape shifting robot. His robot is able to shape shift it self by rearranging its three motion segments. „Cooperative Reconfiguration between Two Specific Configurations for A Shape-shifting Robot

Jorge Bruno Silva presented a approach of trajectory planing while respecting time constrains in „Generating Trajectories With Temporal Constraints for an Autonomous Robot
Noritaka Sato closed the day by presenting novel a HMI approach for teleoperation. Instead of showing only the direct camera image his group uses temporal shifted images to generate an artificial bird eye view, like it is given in computer car games. „Teleoperation System Using Past Image Records Considering Moving Objects

I am looking forward to listen to the next talks.

Interesting designs for Rescue Robots – Part 2

Professor Dr. Satoshi Tadokoro from the Tohoku University  presents his ASC. ASC is an search camera for usage in emergency situations and stands for Active Scope Camera. In basic it is a flexible endoscope which is able to move by it self. With the help of vibrating inclined cilia this endoscope can like a caterpillar crawl into smallest voids (>30 mm). Its maximum speed is 47 mm/s and the operating range is 8 m. This allows rescue workers to search in rubbles for victims or checking the structure of it.

The following video shows Professor Dr. Satoshi Tadokoro at the Tokyo International Fire and Safety Exhibition 2008 presenting the ASC.

During the Collapse of the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne (March 2009),  Professor Dr. Satoshi Tadokoro, Professor Dr. Robin R. Murphy (Texas A&M University), Clint Arnett (Project Coordinator for Urban Search and Rescue in TEEX), members of the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS) were trying to support the local fire department. Therefore I was able to test the ASC which was in use during this disaster.

The ASC performs extremely well. It can crawl in a reasonable speed into the rubble and is (after a little training) easy to use. But the biggest problem is the user interface. The ASC camera system does not compensated tilting or turning if the „robot“ does flip/turn over, which happens quite often. Hence, it is hard for the Operator to keep track of the orientation. In addition the opening angle of the camera is extreme small, which does even more handicap the situational awareness.

Dennis W. Hong presents RoMeLa

RoMeLa, the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech is currently working on „Robot Evolution Through Intelligent Design“. This means they are taking evolutionary inspired designs and try to adopted them to robotic purpose. Dennis W. Hong, PhD and his students have been creating a lot of really interesting new robots, for example three legged robots, snake like robots or humanoids (e.g. DARwIn). The talk from the TEDxNASA conference, Mr. Hong offers a short overview of their research.

By the way, if you’re wondering about that motto and how „evolution“ can meet „intelligent design“ here comes the answer. Hong tells us:

„Though it has both evolution and intelligent design in the sentence, it has nothing to do with either – „we“ push the boundaries and come up with the next generation robotics (robot evolution) through us doing rigorous research and designing them intelligently (intelligent design). I think it is a clever tag line for our lab.“

Six-Legged Walking Machines

Wheel based movements are well studied and have several advantages. They are simple, energy efficient and do need less expert knowledge. Nevertheless they are not the universal solution. Alternatives like flying, crawling or walking are often more suitable for a specific application but they are really hard do develop and even more hard in terms of usage.

One interesting approach of how to use legs by making usage of neuronal networks is shown by „Biologically inspired six-legged walking machine AMOS-WD06“ (Author: Poramate Manoonpong). This project shows an usage of a Hexapod that gets controlled by a neuronal network, how to set it up and how to train it. The results are quit awesome.

Another interesting example of leg usage is given by the A-Pod, a hexapod by Kare Halvorsen which mimics an ant. This black ant which is quite capable of doing natural looking maneuvers. It supports moments of its legs, head, thorax and abdomen, plus it has a claw to perform mobile manipulation. In special the high flexibility and maneuverability in addition to the possibility of mobile manipulation makes this project extremely interesting.

RobotsBlog is alive

RobotsBlog is a new blog focusing on robot topics. It will included news, discussions, articles, and links around the wide field of robotic and AI.

We, the authors, are an international team of junior researchers and actively involved in robotics. And so we are every day seeing the challenging problems and extreme nice solutions and we will try to share as much as possible with you. Our hope is that this platform will help all of us to sort and structure the wide field of robotics a little bit so that other researchers, students and every interested person can maximize their personal benefit which are archival by robotics.

And now it is time to present you some of our previous work.

The first video is showing some test runs of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or for short UAV, which is currently tested by the Fraunhofer IAIS.

The second video shows a autonomous ground base robot using its docking station. The robot does base on a ProfiBot system and is searching autonomously for its docking station if it is needed. After finding it is performing a docking maneuver and charges it batteries.

The next video shows some tests results derived from a computer vision system that is used to detected character based landmarks in the environment. This behavior was needed to participated at the SICK robot day 2009 which we succesfully have done.

So thats all for the starting, new updates are coming and we hope to see you soon again.