PDA Application for the Robota Toy Robot

The PDA used in this application is the iPAQ 3850 pocket PC. It is provided with a StrongARM 32-bit RISC processor working at 260 MHz, eith 64Mb of RAM. It communicates with the robot via serial interface. A Flycam-CF camera is connected to the iPAQ via a Compact Flash Memory card slot, through the pocket PC expansion Pack.

CONVERSAY and ELAN software development kits (SDKs) provide speech recognition and speech synthesis of spoken English. Vision and speech processing are performed by the pocket PC.

The operating system (OS) and development tools used for our applications are Microsoft Pocket PC 2002, and embedded Visual C++. The SDKs used for speech recognition, speech synthesis and camera data acquisition are available only for PocketPC 2002 OS. Transition of our application to free OS such as Linux will be considered when more open source codes will be available for speech processing and camera data acquisition for PDAs.

Robota is a mini humanoid robot of 5 degrees of freedom. It is 45 cm high, for a weight of about 1500gr. It has five maxon-A DC motor with clutch to drive its two legs, two arms and head, 5 associated potentiometers, as well as 6 switches. Robota’s motors are driven by a PIC 16F84A microcontroller. The PocketPC interfaces the motor and sensor cards via RS232 serial connection. Motor and sensor cards are interfaced through SPI protocol.

The Robota project aims at developing an educational high-tech toy that exploits multi-modal means of human-robot interaction, such as speech and vision.

Robot’s Languages Acquisition Using PocketPC

The developing a language learning game for the iPAQ 3850 PocketPC, in this application, the robot can learn, through a simple imitation game, a vocabulary to describe its body features and its perception of external objects. A built-in imitation module allows the robot to imitate the user motion of the arm and the face. The robot associates the user’s vocal utterance with visual perceptions of movement with the motor commands execution during the imitation.

Social interactions have structure that can be exploited to simplify the implementation of the language acquisition game. It has implemented two fundamental means of human social interaction: imitation and turn taking. Imitation is an attentional mechanism. Through the imitation game, the user can force the robot to go to through a specific set of perceptions. The imitation game is used by the teacher, e.g. to lead the robot to perceive the action of lifting up the arm or to watch a specific of object by looking in a specific direction. The imitation game focuses the robot’s attention on the relevant visual features, reducing importantly the amount of storage required for visual representation, and, therefore, increasing the speed of learning.

Turn taking allows clearing separating the act of learning and the act of repeating. In the architecture of the application, the learning phase, during the robot whish imitates the user and acquire knowledge, and the retrieval phase, during which the robot reproduces what it has learned, are clearly separated. The two key-sentences “Listen!” and “Try it now!” are used to switch the robot’s controller into either the learning mode or the rehearsal mode, respectively.

Control Architecture of the Robota

Speech Module
Speech module sentences and the word from the speech stream are extracted by the CONVERSARY Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) engine, using pre-programmed syntactic rules. The syntax is described as a set of rules. Multiple sentences can then describe same meaning. In the system only the subset of keywords are kept for further processing by the learning module. For example, when the user says “This is your face”, the ASR detects the use of an indexed grammar. In the present example, the grammar, encoded by the programmer, specifies that “This is your” is always followed by a noun, here “face”. Among the list of nouns that the ASR programmed to recognize, the word “face” is in this example is keyword that is extracted and processed for learning. The advantage of the syntax definition instead of a list of sentences is that the description is shorter, use less computational power, and can generalize sentences. The user then can omit unimportant words without perturbing the system.

Vision Module
The vision module of Robota grabs images of the upper part of the user’s body, including the head, arms, and shoulders. It tracks the vertical movements of both arms and the horizontal movements or rotation of the head. Tracking of the arms is based on luminosity and optical flow detection. The luminosity is extracted from the pixels RGB color intensity.

Robot Probo for Medical Therapy in Hospitals

Recently more robots are being created to interact with human beings in order to satisfy certain social needs. From this point of view it has been developed a social robot named Probo, intended to comfort and emotionally interact with hospitalized children. The robot will be employed in the hospital, as a tele-interface for entertainment, communication and medical assistance. Therefore it requires the ability to express emotions, in order to do so, an emotional interface is developed to fully configure the display of emotions. The emotions, represented as a vector in an emotion space, are mapped to the degrees of freedom used in the robot. A 3D virtual model is created, providing realistic visual feedback to evaluate the design choices for the facial expressions.

The name Probo is derived from the word Proboscidea, the order containing only one family of living animals. The main aspects are a huggable appearance, an attractive trunk or proboscis, and an interactive belly-screen. The internal mechanics of the robot will be covered with foam and a removable fur-jacket.

The development of the Probo is to bring some solutions to the problems and special needs of hospitalized children. A hospitalization has a serious physical and mental influence, particularly on children.

In medical applications, Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Animal Assisted Activity are becoming commonly used in hospitals. AAT and AAA are expected to have useful psychological, physiological and social effects. Therefore the use of robots instead of animals has more advantages and has a better chance to be allowed in hospitals. Recently pet robots are utilized just for these purposes, Termed Robot-Assisted Therapy (RAT).

A Tele-Interface of Robot Probo

Robot Probo can be employed as a tele-interface focusing on entertainment, communication and medical assistance. A touch screen in the v=belly of the robot creates a window to the outside world and opens up a way to implement new and existing computer applications.

Young children have a need for distraction and entertainment, providing them with a robotic user interface (RUI) will extend the possibilities of interactive game playing and include the capability of emotional feedback.

Hospitalized children are sometimes placed in a social isolated environment, strongly reducing the communication with friends and family. The robot can function as the perfect interface to contact other using standard videoconferencing techniques. The eyes of the robot will house the cameras, whereas the screen in the belly will display the image, resulting in the possibility to do interactive video communication.

Medical Assistance
The robot interface can be used by medical staff to make the children easy about medical routines or operation by providing appropriate information via their pal Probo. Probo can accompany the child to comfort it during difficult medical procedures. To unknown environment will be first explored and exanimations. By using predefine scenarios with pictures, video and sound Probo. Can pre-experience, by using its emotions, the medical routine together with the child fear,

The Robotics Revolution Constantly Changing

The state of robotic is constantly changing, but there is one barrier that will continue to impede its success if not addressed. For most commercial robots, only the “technically elite” are currently able to create the robot control policies they want, while the rest of the population must make do using the built-in policies (such as those on the iRobot Roomba, Wow Wee Robotic line of Robosapiens) included by the robot’s creators. Through lifelong robot learning, the aim to provide users of consumer robot technologies with a medium for transforming desired behavior into robot control policies. Specifically, given the same situational awareness, a robot should make a decision similar to the one the creator of the policy would make. While several paradigms exist for such policy transfer, it remains confronted by a human robot divide.

This divide refers to the disparity between the needs and ideas of users in society, the population with a diverse set of technical abilities and creative design sensibilities, and their ability to instantiate robot control to meet their desired ends. If a personal robotic revolution is to come, similar to that of personal computing, there will need to exist applications that will make new forms of personal expression tangible, enhance personal productivity, and put this technology into the hand of users (analogues to the spreadsheets, web authoring, 3D virtual world, etc on the PC).

Wii Remote Robot of Nintendo

Released in December 2006, the Nintendo Wii Remote (Wiimote) is an inertial control interface for videogames that is fundamentally different from traditional gamepad/keyboard/mouse devices. The primary innovation of the Wiimote is its ability to localize itself within 2 rotational and 3 translational degrees of freedom. This localization is performed with a reasonable degree of accuracy which is well complemented by the Wiimote’s economical feasibility and compelling aesthetic. Rotational localization occurs with the help of three inertial sensors (accelerometers/gravimeters) that measure the direction of gravity along roll, pitch and yaw axes.

Translational localization is performed through triangulation against infrared light (IR) emitted an external “sensor bar”. The IR is sensed by the Wiimote through a built-in IR-sensitive chip. In addition, a Wiimote can receive input from 12 traditional gamepad buttons that can be used in complement with its localization.

The Wiimote communicates with other devices using the Bluetooth wireless communication. There are certain events that cause the Wiimote to send a packet of updated state information to its connected device. Those events include button presses, button releases, changes in the data from the accelerometers or the IR sensor, and changes in Wiimote extension devices. The Nunchuk is one such extension. It physically connects to the Wiimote and adds a second set of 3 accelerometers along with 2 trigger-style buttons and an analog joystick. This combined Wiimote/Nunchuk interface allows for two-handed user input.

Mobile Robot Software CORBA Based Application

A distributed mobile robot software application infrastructure is developed, improving integration and leverage between projects in a research environment. The resulting design includes a three layer CORBA based, service broker application architecture. A reference implementation and tests on B21r, LEGO Mindstorm and Khepera robots demonstrate the feasibility of the design.

The distributed mobile robot software application will improve the integration, particularly in a diverse university or laboratory research environment with different robots, operating systems, programming languages, and researchers. It adopts a CORBA based application architecture comprising three layers: application, infrastructure services, and middleware.

The application layer contains component developed by researchers, which are registered as services. The infrastructure services layer is a broker, following the CORBA Trader specification. The broker provides the protocol between services as well as query facilities for clients. The middleware layer handles communications between services.

CORBA allows a diverse range of languages and operating platforms. Our reference implementation includes robot services for the B21r, Khepera, and LEGO Mindstorm robots, the service broker, a remote robot control application, plus a web enabled version. Real time facilities are not yet included. Although there are issues to overcome, ORB compatibility and performance in a busy network, the application infrastructure provides a good framework for researchers.

Robot Programming Systems

Mobile robot researchers face difficulties developing large software system. Mush of the software infrastructure is proprietary, much is necessarily targeted at specific hardware, robot software development kits may be limiting, and there is a lack of open standards to promote collaboration, code reuse and integration.

There is much work on robot programming systems, but little coherence and little focus on the underlying architecture. Themes include client/server based tools, specific methods for producing robot software, for example graphically, reusable software architecture, portable application programming interfaces, hierarchies of classes with attention to their interfaces, fault tolerance, component interaction via a blackboard, mission programming aimed at end users, layer architectures, real time object oriented automation, component based systems for real time programming.

A number of authors describe distributed robot programming systems, including architectures for: the separation of cognitive from reactive robot components, robot planning, components and patterns, distributed development in which workflows are distinguished at three levels: user, system and execution, hybrid models for integrating decision and reactive levels, a layered, object oriented client/server architecture for sensor motor systems.

Context Requirement of Robot Infrastructures

The analysis was based on the operational context, concerned with system usage, and system capabilities such as scalability, manageability, performance, reliability, security plus other observable system qualities, and the developmental context, concerned with aspects of system and application development, such as design, coding, programming languages, development environment/tools, software reuse. The resulting requirements are summarized below.

A key factor is providing the flexibility for new researchers to easily develop and deploy useful software, within the period of a typical short research project, and for this the infrastructure must support a high level of abstraction of robot hardware, and the flexibility to use different languages and platforms.

This makes a distributed infrastructure essential, and drives other requirements, such as a code reuse, so that a researcher does not spend a significant time creating the infrastructure.

A. Operational context requirements:
RQ1: Distributed software environment.
RQ2: Application centric not robot centric – Hardware diversity prevents standardizing onboard robot software; the architecture should standardize software interfaces, so an application can be assembled transparently.
RQ3: Support parallel and distributed processing for any application components.
RQ4: Robot independence – an important consequence of RQ2.
RQ5: Support applications with multiple robots.
RQ6: Preserve system and application integrity.

B. Developmental context requirements:
RQ7: Promote a high level of software reuse.
RQ8: Programming language independent.
RQ9: Platform independent.

Current Robot Software Systems

A detailed study was carried out on four systems available in the labs. MROS provides a non-preemptive architecture and communications across a dedicated serial link to a robot. A messaging service abstraction layer routes messages to the appropriate controller, hiding details from the programmer. Only non-preemptive multithreading is provided. The main controller can not be distributed and could be a bottleneck as additional components are added. Only Windows 3.1 and C++ are supported. The API is not clearly delineated.

The K-Team Khepera robot provides cross-compilation tools, plugin for systems such as Lab VIEW and Matlab, and a serial communication protocol. It enables any languages to be used for remote control, but lack debugging facilities. The lack of a defined software framework for remote application development limits code reuse.

The B21r has a substantial controller and networking support. Its extendable CORBA Mobility system provides for distributed applications, multiple robots and integration. Opportunity for reuse is provided by base framework classes. A CORBA naming service is used to manage distributed software components. A graphical tool helps debug applications. The programming interface is defined in language independent manner using open CORBA standards. The system is scalable, language and platform independent for applications using the existing framework, but extensions must be written in C++.

Tele-Robotic Application in Mining Industry

Technical advances in the mining industry are dominated by improvements to safety and productivity. Tele-robotics can improve personal safety by removing people from hazardous environments. This has been used for more than half a century with conventional RF technology and is represented in the bottom row. Video will be transmitted to the human operators, who in return, respond with command signals to the robot. Unfortunately the performance of conventional tele-robotic system has been poor, both in term productivity and damage to the machine and there appear to be a complex trade off between safety and productivity. With advances in machine autonomy, such as digto-plan and cooperative behavior, there is an opportunity to redress this imbalance.

During the late 1990s there was great deal of interest in tele-robotics applications over the web. Although research was conducted to develop a system for the mining industry this technology was never commercially realized. The reason for this failure is unknown, but at this time, the technology was immature and probably did not provide the appropriate level of immersion and interaction necessary for control. With recent advances in network infrastructure, sensor technology and software standard (e.g. AJAX and .NET etc) tele-robotic is gaining renewed interest. In the mining industry, there is a demand for visual and haptic user interfaces that are capable of integrating complex geological data with real-time data streams from multiple and remote machine sensors within an open software framework.

Human-Robot Designed by Communicative Strategies

Robots were traditionally designed to operate independently for human, often performing tasks in hazardous environments. Recently, a new range of application domains such as taking care of old people and helping them, are driving the development of robots that can interact and cooperate with humans. Most of research in field of these so called humanoid robots concentrates on questions such as how to design the robot as similar as possible to a human regarding it outer appearance as well as its communicative behavior. In contrast, the present study concentrates on human attitude and communicative strategies. Several questions regarding the social aspects of human-robot communication and the human-like style of the robot’s speech still remain unresolved.

Does the communication strategy influence the success of the human robot communication? How does the communication with a robot resemble the communication with another human? And how are these aspects related to subjective and objective success of the communication?

A specific challenge in human-robot interaction concerns the evaluation of communicative success. Here, different evaluation methodologies using a reference answer to the most prominent approach for evaluations called Paradise. In the present study, objective measures were calculated from the participant responses and success measures were assessed after each block in form of a survey to get a deeper insight in the relationship between subjective and objective measures of success.

To concentrate on dialogue problems of the robot, we use a text based interface, because the present investigation was concerned with communicative strategies and task success. We are aware of the fact that the findings can not be directly applied to spoken communication with the real robot.

Robot Automation Basics

The first step in automating a process with a robot is to determine whether the tasks to be performed will require four-axis SCARA or six-axis articulated robot, and what type and size of end effectors, or end-of-arm tooling (EOAT), is needed. For most upstream packaging applications, the end effectors are a mechanical or magnetic gripper, or a vacuum pickup.

The next step is to calculate the payload capacity required, including the weight and the end effectors, as well as the necessary reach, cycle time and repeatability. After a robot is selected, it needs to be integrated into the process.

Robots are usually mounted, either upright or inverted, in an enclosed automation work cell. The robot and any other associated equipment are bolted to the cell’s steel base. The upper walls of the cells are generally made of aluminum-framed, shatterproof clear plastic or see-through, metal mesh screening.

As a safety precaution, opening the cell’s access door automatically switches the robot off. In case the robot is not enclosed in a cell, light curtain or pressure-sensitive floor mats can provide the same type of automatic safety shutoff.

The robot’s computerized controller, which contains the electronic circuits that run the robot, is usually situated on a platform underneath the cell. Programming the robot is accomplished by means of either a teaching pendant-a handheld interface device that communicates with the controller-or by computer. Most robot manufacturers offer user-friendly programming software that does not require specialized engineering skills.

Benefits Small Assembly Robots in Packaging Operations

Compared with fixed automation, the single most important benefit of small assembly robots in packaging operations is their lower cost. Not only do robots have a lower initial cost, their high degree of flexibility, small size and low maintenance requirements give them a lower overall cost as well.

Robots, however, have the added advantage of being able to fill in automation gaps – manually performed tasks which may still exist in an otherwise automated line, usually because a fixed-automation solution would be too expensive.

Unlike fixed automation, which must be specially designed for a particular process, robots are modular, off the shelf automation systems that can be adapted to a process with relative ease, greatly reducing the need for costly design engineering. In addition, robot work cells have a smaller footprint than fixed-automation machines, saving valuable factory floor space.

Furthermore, when equipped with a multifunctional gripper or automatic tool exchanger, a single robot can perform more than one function, such as loading and unloading a product, presenting the product for inspection and labeling, then inserting it into a packaging container. Vision systems and other options such as conveyor tracking can be easily installed, extending the robot’s capabilities still further.

Another important advantage of robots is that their internal mechanisms are sealed inside protective coverings. This gives them much lower maintenance requirements than fixed-automation machines, whose motors and mechanical parts are usually left open and are thus subject to wear and damage from dirt and debris.

10 Things to Look for When Choosing a Robot

When choosing a robot, here are ten important things to look for:

1. Experience and reputation of the manufacturer: Look for a manufacturer who has established itself as an industry leader and whose robots have stood the test of time.
2. Documented MTBF: Robots, which are often required to operate two or three shifts per day, everyday of the year, must above all be reliable. Manufacturers who stand behind their robot’s reliability will be happy to furnish documentation of their Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF).
3. High maximum allowable moment of inertia: look for a robot with a high maximum allowable moment of inertia, measure of how much force it can exert.
4. Continuous duty cycle time: when comparing robot cycle times, be sure to ask whether the figures given are for continuous duty or only shorter bursts of an hour or less.
5. Compact, efficient robot design: a compact robot design with a small footprint makes integration easier and saves valuable factory floor space.
6. Robot controller features: Desirable features to look for in robot controllers include small size and weight, fast processing speed, etc.
7. Affordable offline programming software: Most packaging applications are not difficult to program.
8. Low energy consumption: Ask about the robot’s energy consumption.
9. Safety codes: To protect employees and limit your company’s liability, verify that robot meets or exceeds all current safety codes.
10. Short training: Ask about the length of required training.

Various Robots from DENSO

DENSO Corporation is one of the automotive parts manufacturers in the world. They have been a pioneer and industry leader in robot design and manufacturing since the 1960s. They also have very large user of small assembly robots, employing more than 17,000 robots in its own manufacturing facilities.

DENSO Robotics offers a wide range of compact four-axis SCARA and five and six axis articulated robots for payload of up to 20 kg, with reaches from 350 to 1,300 mm and repeatability to within +0.015mm standard, Class 10 and Class 100 clean room, and IP65 dust and mist proof models are available. ANSI and CE compliance enables global deployment. UL listed models are available for both the US and Canada.

Easy to use programming software, controllers and teaching pendants are also offered. The offline programming software, which features 3-D simulation, also allows remote monitoring of robot operations.

DENSO robots are used in packaging as well as a wide variety of other applications, such as assembly, dispensing, inspection, machining, machine tending, material handling, material removal, pick and place, test handling, and ultrasonic welding.

Industries served include appliances, automotive, chemical, consumer products, disk drives, electronics, food and beverage, general manufacturing, machine tools, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, plastics and semiconductors.

Web-Based Robotics with an Autonomous Mobile Robot on the Web

Several years ago it has been running an experiment in web-based interaction with autonomous indoor mobile robot. The robot, called Xavier, can accept commands to travel to different offices in the building, broadcasting camera images as it travels.

To provide a continual source of commands to the robot, Xavier set up a web page in which users throughout the world could view the robot’s progress and command its behavior.

Xavier is built on top of a 24 inches diameter base from Real World Interface. The commercial base is four-wheeled synchro-drive mechanism that allows for independent control of the translational and rotational velocities.

Xavier also has a speaker and speech to text card. Control, perception, and planning are carried out on two 200 MHz Pentium computers, running Linux. A 486 laptop, also running Linux, sits on top of the robot and provides for graphical display and communication to the outside world via a Wavelan wireless Ethernet system. The three on board computers are connected to each other via thin-wire Ethernet.

Xavier differs from most other web-based robots in that it is mobile and autonomous. Mobility impacts web-based robots because the bandwidth achievable by radio modems is rather limited. Thus real-time visual feedback and control is often difficult to achieve, especially if the workspace of robots is a large area so that radio coverage becomes a factor. Also battery power is limited, so the robot can operate only a few hours per day.

Autonomous Navigation System of Xavier Robot

The Xavier navigation system is a layered architecture, consisting of servo-control, obstacle avoidance, navigation, and path planning. Each layer receives ‘guidance’ from the layer above and provides commands to the layer below. Each layer also filters and abstracts information for the higher layers, enabling them to operate more globally without getting swamped by data.

The Servo-control layer, which controls both the base and pan-tilt head, provides simple velocity and/or position control. It also provides feedback on command execution and position information, based on encoder readings.

The Obstacle avoidance layer keeps the robot moving in a desired direction, while avoiding static and dynamic obstacles.

The Navigation layer is responsible for getting the robot from one location to another. It uses a Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (POMDP) model to maintain a probability distribution of where the robot is at all times, choosing actions base on that distribution.

The Path planning layer determines efficient routes based on both a topological map that is augmented with rough metric information and the capabilities of robot.

The Xavier navigation system is implemented as a collection of asynchronous processes, distributed over the three computers on board Xavier. The processes are integrated and coordinated using the Task Control Architecture (TCA). TCA provides facilities for interprocess communication, task decomposition, task synchronization, execution monitoring, exception handling and resource management.

Small Assembly Robots for Packaging Process

Packaging has traditionally been the realm of fixed automation, often supplemented by manual labor to carry out machine tending and other immediate process steps, mainly material handling. For some continuous high-speed, high volume processes, fixed automation remains the best solution. Increasingly, however, manufacturers are turning to the use of industrial robots, which offer several advantages over fixed automation.

The high cost of fixed automation limits its use mainly to high-volume operations with few product changes. The advantages of fixed automation outweighed the disadvantages. Manufacturers had a solution that worked, and without the fierce new competition from offshore manufacturing that globalization would bring, there was no compelling reason to do differently.

The solution is small assembly robots. Small assembly robots can perform both primary and secondary packaging operations. A class of robot arms often referred to as small assembly robots provides just such an alternative. Despite their name, assembly robots can carry out a much wider variety of tasks than just assembly.

These include all the various material handling and others function involved in upstream packaging processes, such as pick and place, loading and unloading, package forming, product insertion, etc., as well as secondary operations such as labeling, testing and inspection.

In terms of size, small assembly robots are considered to be those with payload capacities up to 20 kg (44 pounds) and reaches up to 1,300 mm (51 inches).

4-Axis SCARA VS 6-Axis Articulated Robots

There are two basic types of assembly robots: four axis SCARA robots and six axis articulated robots. The term “SCARA” stands for “Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm”. This refers to the fact that a SCARA’s arm segments, or links, are compliant, that is, they can move freely, but only in a single geometrical plane.

The first two links of a SCARA swivel left and right in the horizontal plane. The third link consists of a metal rod called a quill, which holds the robot’s end effectors, such as a gripper. The quill moves up and down in the vertical plane and rotates around its vertical axis, but can not tilt at an angle.

This unique design gives four-axis SCARAs a high degree of rigidity, which in turn allows them to move very fast and with high repeatability. In packaging applications, four axis SCARAs excel at high-speed pick and place and other material handling tasks.

Six-axis articulated robots have two more joints than four-axis SCARAs and, as a result, more freedom of movement. The first link swivels in the horizontal plane like a SCARA, while the second two link move in the vertical plane, six-axis articulated robots have a ‘forearm’ and two ‘wrist’ joints, which let them perform the same types of movements that a human forearm and wrist are capable of.

The additional joints of six-axis articulated robots mean that they pick up a part no matter how it is oriented off the horizontal plane, and then insert it into a package that may require a special angle of approach. They can also perform many other operations that might otherwise call for dexterity of a human operator.

Fanuc Robotic Helps to Increase Productivity

Fanuc Robotics developed a ‘factory within a factory’, providing a series of robotic work cells linked through a common part transfer conveyor. The fully automated system incorporated material handling robot model equipped with handling tool and Collision Guard Software, customer gripper and a control interface. The entire system consists of ten consecutives processes linked by a conveyor.

Production quality also was addressed by tracking scrap dollars. During final inspection, each part is examined for dimensional tolerance and cosmetic appearance. Rejects are tagged and then further evaluated to determine how to eliminate inaccuracy. Robotic automation has contributed to a reduction in scrap rates.

The robotic system has helped to reduce total production costs by approximately 25 %. The system is expandable to accommodate additional machines and can easily accommodate new part designs.
Because they choose automation:
• Accurate and consistent part loading
• A reduction in part defects
• Increased productivity – typically 120 pcs per hour
• Improved control and the entire manufacturing system
• Less cost per piece
• Flexibility to meet future production demands

Automation and robotics provide a variety of benefits to the manufacturing community including improved efficiency, better quality, reduce piece price, minimized risk and improved control of operations.

Manufacturing Competitiveness through Robotics and Automation

The challenge facing North American manufacturers have escalated as manufacturing industry struggles to stay competitive in global marketplace. Labor costs, task rates, health care costs, retirement costs, tort costs and pollution abatement costs are just some of the problems.

The following initiatives were outline with a focus in improving manufacturing competitiveness:
• Reduce tax related to manufacturing
• Conduct a regulatory review
• Lower health care costs
• Ensure an appropriate focus on innovation and productivity enhancing technology
• Train employees

The one area where manufacturers could secure result immediately, while maintaining control, is the use of innovation and product enhancing technology. The state of the manufacturing community has changed. Quality and efficiency have become essential which has shifted the focus to lean manufacturing and Six Sigma process. Automation and robotics are also credited with improving efficiency and quality.

Some manufacturers are concerned investing in automation and innovation will displace workers. The fact is if manufacturers do not innovate and embrace automation, they will leave themselves open to loosing their entire facility, company or worse to outsourcing.

Several factors that are directly impacted include: quality, efficiency, increased control, and viability. An automated facility manufacturers the highest quality products, enabling manufacturers to optimize current capital, labor resources, maintain control of their operations, strengthen manufacturing leadership and retain jobs, all while loading to significant cost improvement. Industrial robots provide a number of direct and indirect economic benefit. One robot can perform the work of three to five people, reducing the cost labor. Over the three next decades, 76 millions baby boomer will retire and only 46 million new workers will be available to replace them.

History SRI Robots of Small Vision Module and Centibots

SRI has pioneered the art and science of robotic technology for more than 40 years. The application of their robots are including wall-climbing robots, telerobotic surgery, advanced military scout, inspection robots for pipelines and port security, and self organizing, networked robots.

Small Vision Module
In a project cosponsored by Darpa, SRI developed inexpensive, compact, self contained, low powered range sensor for mobile robots and surveillance applications. The small device measures only six cubic inches and combines commercially available components to perform real-time analysis of stereo images in a very small foot print, using very little power. SRI is developing the next generation of the device, which will feature nearly a 600 percent performance improvement.

The Centibots are mobile, coordinated robots that can autonomously and effectively explore, map and survey the interior of unknown building structures. The Centibots marked a milestone in robotics, representing the larges collection (more than 100) to date of coordinated autonomous mobile robots.

These autonomous team robots were designed to augment the situational awareness of human teams – such as crisis response teams – in situations that could pose a threat to the people. Centibots improve upon current robot architectures, which rely on large, power-hungry subsystem for mobility, communication and control, and are limited to only individual or small teams of robots.

Real-Time Vision and Mapping Robots

Real-time vision and learning technologies are at the core of the DARPA Learning Applied to Ground Robotics (LAGR) program to develop autonomous off-road navigation. The goal was to develop sensing and camera based techniques for learning the mobility properties of objects in a new environment and planning and control techniques for using this information to avoid such difficulties as loose sand, bushes, and cul-de-sacs.

SRI developed color and texture based visual odometry techniques for precisely locating the robot as it moved through complex outdoor environments; mapping of features for later runs, and very efficient, low level control techniques so the robots could rapidly traverse planned paths and quickly free itself.

SRI KARTO robot mapping technology provides advanced mapping and localization software. It enables developers of mobile robot solutions to integrate navigation and mapping intelligence into their designs using various robotic platforms and development environments, including Microsoft Robotics Studio, the KARTO development kit offers the flexibility to work with the widest range of mobile robot platforms, simulation environments, operating software and middleware.

Telerobotics Assistance for the Elderly and Disabled
SRI’s multidisciplinary approach to solving major global challenges has prompted researchers to invent robot-based solutions that would help manage assistance and care of the elderly and the disabled.

Robots built on tele-presence technology could provide real-time remote monitoring, physical support, therapeutic advice, and communication between patient and caregiver, and among the patient, family members, and clinical personnel.

Wall Climbing Robots and Robotic in Education

Wall climbing robots scale vertical surfaces by virtue of electro adhesion, which involves inducing electrostatic charges on a wall substrate using a power supply connected to compliant pads situated on the moving robot.

Under DARPA funding it has demonstrated robust clamping to common building materials including glass, wood, metal, and concrete, with clamping pressures in the range of 0.5 to 1.5 N per square cm of clamp (0.8 to 23 pounds per square inch).

Application of wall climbing robots address an electric array of business, military, civilian, and consumer needs. For example, first responders could be provided with real-time and longer term reconnaissance of buildings. They have military or commercial applications in the inspections of bridges, containers, pipes and storage tanks, buildings, structural walls, ducts, aircraft, and transmission towers.

Wall climbing robots could also be operated for cleaning windows and for painting buildings, bridges, or aircraft. In the future the technology’s use for several human wall-climbing functions ranging from Special Forces operations to exterior building maintenance.

LEGO’s Mind storms division is optimizing the programming environment for its robotic invention system: a LEGO kit for the creation of robots that the features various sensors, and infrared port, and an 8-bit microcontroller. LEGO Mind storms are dedicated to developing and deploying new technologies that empower children to learn.

The microcontroller featured in the LEGO Mind storms system had roughly the same computing power as the Apple II when it was introduced in 1977, while occupying a fraction of the total volume.

Telepresence Surgery and Medical Automation Robots

SRI’s novel approach to minimally invasive surgery led to the first FDA-approved telerobotic surgery system. Telepresence surgical system allows surgeon to remotely minimally invasive surgical procedures from a separately located operating theater. Throughout the US, Europe and Asia, surgeons use the technology to help patient recover faster, with less pain and fewer complications. Trauma Pod battle field medical treatment system program is working to bring this technology to the battle field to help soldier’s lives.

Telepresence surgery offers unique benefits because it provides the right feedback and immersive environment to allow for the surgeon to effectively use tools in natural way the same or even better – dexterity than possible when operating directly.

To develop a futuristic battlefield based, unmanned medical treatment system dubbed the “Trauma Pod”. This system could stabilize injured soldiers within minutes of a trauma and administer life-saving medical and surgical care prior to evacuation and during transport. Related developments are underway: dexterous robotic tools to improve patient outcomes and enable new procedures through development of nimble, smaller endoscopic tools; additional automation tools for the operating room; and remote delivery of trauma care. M7 surgical robot conducted the first ever acceleration compensated medical procedure in zero-gravity flight for NASA.

The M17 was also the list surgical robot to be successfully deployed to an undersea habitat simulating the rigors of outer space in NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operation (NEEMO), demonstrating remote surgery over 1,200 miles of public internet. The M7 demonstrated the first autonomous ultrasound guided medical procedure in the same undersea laboratory.

History of Robotics and Devices of Shakey and Flakey Robots

Shakey was the first mobile robot with the ability to reason and react to its environment. Developed at Sri’s pioneering Artificial Intelligent Center, Shakey has had a substantial influence on present-day artificial intelligent and robotics.

Using a TV camera, a triangulating range finder, and bump sensors, Shakey was connected to DEC PDP-10 and PDP-15 computers via radio and video links. Interoperating programs with varying levels of sophistication provided Shakey with the ability to combine simple movements and environmental perception into robust, complex tasks, enabling it to achieve goals given by user the system also generalized and saved these plans for possible future use. Inducted into the robot hall of fame in 2004.

Flakey was a custom built platform approximately three feet high and two feet in diameter operating within SRI’s own office environment. Two independently driven wheels provided a maximum velocity of about two feet per second.

Flakey’s sensors included a ring of 12 sonar range finders, wheel encoders, and a video camera used in combination with a laser to provide dense depth information over a small area in front of the vehicle. Flakey’s onboard computers included a workstation and other processors dedicated to sensor interpretation, motor control, and radio communications.

History of Robotics and Devices of Lurch and Erratic Robots

SRI’s vast talent an expertise in artificial intelligence, algorithm development, and sensor research has yielded a prolific environment for the development of robot.

Lurch (for large, Useful Robot Controlling Hazard) is designed for control of robot functions in realistic outdoor terrain and is operated using high-level directives from a remote station connected via a packet-switched radio network.

Lurch was created by modifying an Andros Mark V-A robot from Remote, Inc to incorporate SRI’s planning and control system. Enhancements include onboard control of the mobile based and a manipulator arm based on a ruggedized PC system. Onboard sensors include stereoscopic vision. 16 ultrasonic sensors and encoders for all robot, manipulator, and camera motions.

ERRATIC and Pioneer
Addressing the need for an easy to construct, low cost robot development platform, SRI designed ERRATIC to run as a robot server from a host computer over a remote serial connection. It provides basic functions of forward/back velocity and angular position integration stall sensing, and sonar ranging. Pioneer is production version of the ERRATIC platform. The real-tine controller for ERRATIC is based on software developed at SRI on the Flakey project. The software runs a reactive planning system with a fuzzy controller, behavior sequencer, and deliberative planner with integrated routines for sonar sensor interpretation, map building, and navigation.

The Historical of Robotic Development

Robots are programmable physical machines that have sensors and actuators, and are given goals for what they should achieve in the world. Perception algorithms process the sensor inputs, a control program decides how the robots should behave given its goals and current circumstances, and commands are sent to the motors to make the robot act in the world. Some robots are mobile. But others are rooted to a fix location.

The first deployed robots were in structured environments such as automobile assembly lines in the 1950s. At that time computation and sensors were both very expensive, so the environment for robots were specially constructed so that robot could effectively operate with little sensing or computation. Today’s manufacturing robots still follow the approach and so manufacturing robots are only used in industries where the overhead of building the necessary special environment can be absorbed. This restricted them to factories that produce very expensive objects such as automobiles or silicon wafers or very high volumes of unchanging products over many years.

Since the 1970s, most research in robotics has been targeted at extending robot capabilities to unstructured environments – environments not prepared specially for them. Early attempts concentrate on navigation, both indoors and outdoors, and the 1997 Mars rover Sojourner was the major deployed success. Ground robots have, since 2002, become common in the US military, tackling the problems of forward scouting and IED remediation.

Why We Need the Robots

These trends point not only to the problem of who will fund social security as the ratio of older and largely retired people to younger working people increases, but worse, the social security will be competing for the service labor of relatively fewer people. Other country will be competing for immigrants to fill labor pools. Robots will be a key technology to greatly increase the productivity of individual humans.

Despite the impression from popular press, US manufacturing remains strong, is the largest manufacturing sector in the world, and has had sustained productivity increases over the last fifty years at the rate even higher than that of the IT industry. Labor-intensive manufacturing would seem to be a high impact target for robotics, but it has not been due to the sort of successes robotic had early on, casting the die for a direction it would take, effectively restricting manufacturing robots to structured environments. Robotic high-value areas such as automobile manufacturing had a fifty year history in the US.

Today’s industrial robots follow the practices set out in the 1950s, though they are cheaper and more accurate. But they have not fully embraced the IT revolution and have very little in the way of flexible computation, perception, or real-time planning. This makes systems integration overhead of setting up robotic lines, turning factories into structured environments.
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