Advanced Robotics & Intelligent Machines - IET Digital Library

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J. O. Gray
D. G. Caldwell
The Institution of Electrical Engineers
control engineering series 51
Series Editors: Professor D. P. Atherton
Professor G. I. Irwin
Other volumes in this series:
Volume 1 Multivariable control theory J. M. Layton
Volume 2 Elevator traffic analysis, design and control G. C. Barney and S. M. dos Santos
Volume 3 Transducers in digital systems G. A. Woolvet
Volume 4 Supervisory remote control systems R E. Young
Volume 5 Structure of interconnected systems H Nicholson
Volume 6 Power system control M. J. H. Sterling
Volume 7 Feedback and multivariable systems D H. Owens
Volume 8 A history of control engineering, 1800-1930 S. Bennett
Volume 9 Modern approaches to control system design N. Munro (Editor)
Volume 10 Control of time delay systems J. E. Marshall
Volume 11 Biological systems, modelling and control D. A. Linkens
Volume 12 Modelling of dynamical systems—1 H. Nicholson (Editor)
Volume 13 Modelling of dynamical systems—2 H. Nicholson (Editor)
Volume 14 Optimal relay and saturating control system synthesis E. P. Ryan
Volume 15 Self-tuning and adaptive control: theory and application
C. J. Harris and S. A. Billings (Editors)
Volume 16 Systems modelling and optimisation P. Nash
Volume 17 Control in hazardous environments R. E. Young
Volume 18 Applied control theory J. R. Leigh
Volume 19 Stepping motors: a guide to modern theory and practice P. P. Acarnley
Volume 20 Design of modern control systems D. J. Bell, P. A. Cook and N. Munro (Editors)
Volume 21 Computer control of industrial processes S. Bennett and D. A. Linkens (Editors)
Volume 22 Digital signal processing N. B. Jones (Editor)
Volume 23 Robotic technology A. Pugh (Editor)
Volume 24 Real-time computer control S. Bennett and D. A. Linkens (Editors)
Volume 25 Nonlinear system design S. A. Billings, J. O. Gray and D. H. Owens (Editors)
Volume 26 Measurement and instrumentation for control M. G. Mylroi and G. Calvert
Volume 27 Process dynamics estimation and control A. Johnson
Volume 28 Robots and automated manufacture J. Billingsley (Editor)
Volume 29 Industrial digital control systems K. Warwick and D. Rees (Editors)
Volume 30 Electromagnetic suspension—dynamics and control P. K. Slnha
Volume 31 Modelling and control of fermentation processes J. R. Leigh (Editor)
Volume 32 Multivariable control for industrial applications J. O'Reilly (Editor)
Volume 33 Temperature measurement and control J. R. Leigh
Volume 34 Singular perturbation methodology in control systems D. S. Naidu
Volume 35 Implementation of self-tuning controllers K. Warwick (Editor)
Volume 36 Robot control K. Warwick and A. Pugh (Editors)
Volume 37 Industrial digital control systems (revised edition) K. Warwick and D. Rees
Volume 38 Parallel processing in control P. J. Fleming (Editor)
Volume 39 Continuous time controller design R. Balasubramanian
Volume 40 Deterministic control of uncertain systems A. S. I. Zinober (Editor)
Volume 41 Computer control of real-time processes S. Bennett and G. S. Virk (Editors)
Volume 42 Digital signal processing: principles, devices and applications
N. B. Jones and J. D. McK. Watson (Editors)
Volume 43 Trends in information technology D. A. Linkens and R. I. Nicolson (Editors)
Volume 44 Knowledge-based systems for industrial control J. McGhee, M. J. Grimble and
A. Mowforth (Editors)
Volume 45 Control theory—a guided tour J. R. Leigh
Volume 46 Neural networks for control and systems K. Warwick, G. W. Irwin and K. J. Hunt
Volume 47 A history of control engineering, 1930-1956 S. Bennett
Volume 48 MATLAB toolboxes and applications for control A. J. Chipperfield and
P. J. Fleming (Editors)
Volume 49 Polynomial methods in optimal control and filtering K. J. Hunt (Editor)
Volume 50 Programming industrial control systems using IEC 1131-3 R. W. Lewis
J. 0. Gray
D. G. Caldwell
The Institution of Electrical Engineers
Published by: The Institution of Electrical Engineers, London,
United Kingdom
© 1996: The Institution of Electrical Engineers
This publication is copyright under the Berne Convention and the
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British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A CIP catalogue record for this book
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ISBN 0 85296 853 1
Printed in England by Bookcraft, Bath
Preface xvi
Acknowledgements xxi
Contributors xxii
SECTION 1 Technologies for advanced robotics
1 Recent developments in advanced robotics & intelligent systems 1
J.O. Gray
The semi autonomous robot
Systems architectures
1.3.1 Concepts
1.3.2 Engineering aspects
Advanced concepts and procedures
1.5.1 Decentralised autonomous robotic systems
1.5.2 Miniature and microrobotics
1.5.3 Learning systems
Future Developments
Machine intelligence: Architectures, controllers and applications 19
E. Grant
2.1 Introduction 19
2.2 Architectures for intelligent control 22
2.3 Machine learning 24
vi Contents
2.3.1 Rule-based control 25
2.3.2 Machine learned control 27
2.3.3 Reinforcement learning 28
2.3.4 'BOXES' 28
2.3.5 Basic Concepts 29
2.3.6 Neural network - based reinforcement learning 31
2.4 Competitive learning 33
2.4.1 Kohonen feature maps 34
2.4.2 Adaptive resonance theory (ART) 35
2.5 Hypermedia front-ends 37
2.6 References 39
3 Advanced control systems for robotic arms 41
C.L. Boddy, D.J.F. Hopper, J.D. Taylor
Kinematic and dynamic control
Kinematic control design
3.3.1 Whole arm collision avoidance control system Collision avoidance task Simulation results
Servo control design
4 Intelligent Gripping Systems 61
J.S. Dai, D.R. Kerr and D.J. Sanger
4.1 Introduction 61
4.2 Overview of the Salford theories 61
4.2.1 Theories on restraint and grasping 62
4.2.2 Restraint mapping and screw image space 63
4.3 Need and provision of fingertip sensor system 64
4.4 Computer software package implementation 65
4.5 Overview of the implementation of the gripping system 67
4.6 Conclusion 67
4.7 References 68
5 Force feedback control in robots and its application
to decommissioning 71
R.W. Daniel, P.J. Fischer and P.R. McAree
5.1 Introduction 71
5.2 Force feedback strategies 72
5.3 Active compliance control for teleoperation 74
Contents vii
5.4 Typical experimental results during the design of a
force controller 78
5.4.1 Experimental method 79
5.4.2 Results 80
5.4.3 Conclusion 81
5.5 Active compliance control stability 81
5.6 Conclusions and future directions 87
5.7 References 88
Tele-presence control of robots 89
D.G. Caldwell and A Wardle
6.1 Introduction 89
6.2 Tele-presence robot design 90
6.2.1 Mobile base 90
6.2.2 Robot manipulator arms 91
6.2.3 Robot pan and tilt head 92
6.2.4 Tactile sensing systems 93
6.3 Operator input systems 94
6.3.1 Base motion control 94
6.3.2 Head motion tracking 95
6.3.3 Glove and sleeve input systems 96
6.4 Operator feedback designs 97
6.4.1 Stereo sound and vision 97
6.5 Virtual tactile representation (tele-taction) 98
6.5.1 Thermal sensation 98
6.5.2 Texture/slip sensation feedback 99
6.5.3 Pressure sensation feedback 99
6.5.4 Pain sensation feedback 99
6.6 System testing 100
6.6.1 Motion control testing 100
6.6.2 Manipulator testing 101
6.7 Tactile feedback system testing 102
6.7.1 Texture/slip feedback testing 102
6.7.2 Thermal feedback testing 103
6.7.3 Force/pressure feedback 103
6.7.4 Pain feedback 104
6.8 Conclusions 104
6.9 Acknowledgements 104
6.10 References 104
Sensing and Sensor Management for Planning 107
PJ. Probert, A.P. Gaskell and Huosheng Hu
7.1 Introduction 107
7.2 Seeing the environment: Common sensors 108
viii Contents
1.2.1 CCD cameras 108
7.2.2 Sonar sensors 109
7.2.3 Optoelectronic sensors 111 Optical amplitude detectors 111 Triangulation sensors 113 Lidar sensors 115
7.3 Sensor integration 117
7.3.1 Qualitative approaches 117
7.3.2 Quantitative approach 119
7.4 Sensor management in obstacle avoidance 123
7.4.1 Sensor planning cycle 123
7.4.2 Case study 125 Components of the architecture 125
7.4.3 Results: sensor control 127
7.5 Conclusions 129
7.6 Acknowledgements 130
7.7 References 130
SECTION 2 Applications
8 Robotics in the Nuclear Industry 133
P.E. Mort and A.W. Webster
8.1 Introduction 133
8.2 Remote handling systems 135
8.2.1 Diman 1 and 2 135
8.2.2 Rodman [18] 137
8.2.3 Rediman 138
8.2.4 Repman 139
8.2.5 Pipeman 140
8.2.6 Raffman 141
8.3 Future remote handling systems 143
8.3.1 Manipulators 143 Flexible manipulators 143 Redundant manipulators 143 Modular manipulators 144
8.3.2 Tooling 145
8.3.3 Input devices 145
8.3.4 Simulation and modelling 145 Real-time world model updating 146 Dynamic and random event modelling 146
8.4 Conclusion 146
8.5 References 147
Robots in Surgery: A Survey
Computer assisted surgery [CAS]
Powered robots for surgery, diagnosis and therapy
Safety issues
A brief survey of international work
9.5.1 USA and Canada
9.5.2 UK
9.5.3 Japan
9.5.4 Europe
Intelligent Autonomous Systems for Cars
Autonomous intelligent cruise control
10.2.1 AICC concept
10.2.2 Radar sensor
Lane support
Collision avoidance
10.4.1 Collision avoidance sensing
10.4.2 Data fusion
10.4.3 Decision strategy
11 Walking machine technology:
Designing the Control System of an
Advanced Six-Legged Machine 177
A.Halme and K Hartikainen
11.1 Introduction
11.2.1 Energy, power transmission and actuation systems
11.3 Control hardware design
11.3.1 Computer system
11.3.2 I/O system
11.4 Control software design
11.4.1 Pilot software
11.4.2 Leg software
x Contents
11.5 Control requirements of a walking machine 185
11.5.1 Leg motion in periodic gaits 186
11.6 Conclusions 189
11.7 References 189
12 Handling of flexible materials in automation 191
P.M. Taylor
12.1 Introduction 191
12.2 Garment/shoe upper assembly 192
12.3 The automated assembly toolbox 192
12.3.1 Movement of pieces of material 193 Pick/carry/place 193 Conveying 196 Vibrating surfaces 196 Rolling surfaces 196 Pallets/jigs 197 Mechanical progression 197 Sliding 197
12.3.2 Automated assembly: destacking 198
12.3.3 Orientation/alignment 199 Robotic correction with vision sensing 199 Edge alignment during conveying 200 Sliding against edge constraints 200
12.3.4 Controlled distortion 201 2-D Distortion of fabric 201 3-D Distortion 202
12.4 Joining cells 202
12.4.1 Two dimensional sewing 202 Sewing with pallets 203 Sewing with roller drives 203 Sewing with conveyors 203
12.4.2 Three dimensional joining 203
12.5 Integrated systems 206
12.5.1 High-tech robotic systems 206
12.5.2 Low-tech robotic systems 207
12.5.3 Systems with a minimum of robots 208
12.6 Evaluation and exploitation 209
12.7 Conclusions 209
12.8 References 210
13 Robotics in food manufacturing 213
K. Khodabandehloo
13.1 Introduction 213
13.2 Current robotic devices in use in the food sector 215
The MKI system
MKII system
Attaching teat cups
Robot tracking
Comment on operation
System problems
Future developments
Contents xi
13.3 Success in automated production of primal cuts 217
13.4 Fish processing application 218
13.5 Poultry processing application 220
13.6 Robot system integration 223
13.7 Conclusions 224
13.8 References 224
14 Robotic Milking 225
R.C. Hall, M.J. Street and D.S. Spencer
15 Intelligent sensing as a means to error free semiconductor wafer
handling 235
J.E. Vaughan, G.J. Awcock, R. Thomas and P Edwards
15.1 Introduction 235
15.1.1 Practical considerations 236
15.2 The nature of intelligent sensing 236
15.2.1 Smart sensors 237
15.2.2 Levels of adaptation 237 Product design level 237 Unit level 237 Execution level 237 Exception level 238
15.3 Sensing technologies 238
15.3.1 Contact sensing 238 The Microswitch 238 Force sensors 238 Tactile array sensors 239
15.3.2 Non-contact sensing 239 Acoustic sensing 239 Proximity sensors 239 Photo-electric sensors 240 Optical time-of-flight sensors 240 Vision sensors 240
xii Contents
15.4 A pragmatic approach to machine vision 240
15.4.1 A generic model of a machine vision system 241 Scene constraints 241 Image acquisition 242 Pre-processing 243 Segmentation 244 Feature extraction 245 Interpretation 245
15.4.2 The development of a wafer orientation sensor 245 Detection of notched wafers 246 Detection of flatted wafers 247 Review of orientation sensing experiments 249
15.5 Integration of sensory data 249
15.5.1 A summary of sensor fusion techniques 250
.1 Uniquely determined dependent data fusion 250
.2 Over determined dependent sensor fusion 250
.3 Under determined dependent sensor fusion 250 Sequential sensor fusion 250 Behaviour based control 251
15.5.2 Selection of suitable techniques for further work 251
15.6 Conclusions 252
15.7 Acknowledgements 252
15.8 References 252
SECTION 3 Advanced Concepts and Procedures
16 The concept of robot society and its utilisation in future robotics 255
A. Halme, P Jakubik, T Schonberg and M Vainio
16.1 Introduction 255
16.2 The concept of robot society 256
16.3 A model society 258
16.4 Simulated behaviour 258
16.4.1 Computer simulation 258 Energy distribution 260 Effect of communication distance 261 Number of members 263
16.4.2 A physical realisation 264 Construction 264 Hardware 265 Communication 266 Navigation 266 Software 266
16.5 Possible applications 267
16.5.1 Disassembly society 267
16.5.2 Environment mapping 267
Contents xm
16.5.3 Dumping area monitoring and cleaning society 268
16.5.4 Swarming of mobile robots 268
16.5.5 Monitoring and cleaning inside of processes 268
16.6 Conclusion and future research 269
16.7 References 270
17 Miniature and micro robotics: technologies and applications 271
P. Dario, R.Valleggi, M.C. Carrozza, M.C. Montesi and M.Cocco
17.1 Introduction 271
17.2 The 'miniature' robot 272
17.3 The 'microrobot' 273
17.4 The 'nanorobot' 273
17.5 Possible configurations and applications of microrobots 274
17.6 References 278
18 Characteristics of robot behaviour 281
A. Lush, J.Rowland and M.Wilson
Origins of behaviour-based robotics
18.2.1 Behaviour-based automated robotic assembly Autonomy of behaviours Flexible architecture
Adaptation and behaviour
18.3.1 Decentralised adaptation
18.3.2 Centralised or hybrid approaches
18.3.3 Learning
Emergent characteristics
Discussion and conclusions
19 A behaviour synthesis architecture for co-operant mobile robots 295
D.P. Barnes
Research foundations
Research focus
Behaviour synthesis
Modelling co-operant behaviour
Fred and Ginger, our 'dyadic duo'
Discussion of experimental results
Future research
xiv Contents
20 Co-operant behaviour in multiple manipulators 315
G. Dodds
20.1 Introduction 315
20.1.1 multi-arm research at QUB 316
20.1.2 Multi-arm research goals 317
20.2 Cooperative task planning for object surface processing 319
20.2.1 Tool trajectory planning 319
20.2.2 Object and contact point features and representation 321
20.2.3 Contact maintenance strategies 322
20.2.4 Simulation and task execution example 324
20.3 Collision detection for multiple manipulators 325
20.3.1 Optimal path planning 328
20.4 Sensing requirements for multi-arm systems 329
20.4.1 External position sensing 330
20.4.2 Detailed multi-arm contact analysis 331
20.5 Data transfer and processing 332
20.6 Discussion 333
20.7 Conclusions 333
20.8 Acknowledgements 334
20.9 References 334
21 Neural Networks in Automation Procedures 337
J.M. Bishop, R J Michell and K Warwick
21.1 Introduction 337
21.2 What are neural networks ? 338
21.2.1 n-tuple networks 339 n-Tuple network used as a vision system 340
21.2.2 The Multi-layer perceptron (MLP) 341 Back propagation using the generalised delta rule 343 Learning rate r| 344 Using back propagation 344
21.3 A neural vision system for high speed visual inspection 345
21.3.1 A practical vision system 345
21.3.2 Implementation 347
21.3.3 Performance 348
21.4 The application of neural networks to computer recipe prediction 348
21.4.1 Introduction 349
21.4.2 Computer recipe prediction 350
21.4.3 Neural networks and recipe prediction 351 Performance 352
21.4.4 Discussion 352
21.5 Conclusion 352
21.6 References 352
Contents xv
22 Parallel Processing, Neural Networks and Genetic Algorithms for
Real-Time Robot Control 355
A.M.S. Zalzala
22.1 Introduction 355
22.2 Parallel processing structures on transputer networks 356
22.2.1 Minimum-time motion planning 357
22.2.2 Distributed dynamic equations of motion 358
22.2.3 Distributed measurements for the End-effector 361
22.2.4 The integrated system 362
22.3 The learning control of dynamic systems 363
22.4 Genetic-based motion planning 365
22.5 Discussion and Conclusions 367
22.6 Acknowledgements 368
22.7 References 369
The term 'advanced robotics' came into general use during the 1980s to describe the
emerging developments in sensor based robotic devices which exploit relatively low cost
computing power to achieve levels of functionality which often appear to mimic intelligent
human behaviour. Such devices are often semi-autonomous in nature with quite
sophisticated human computer interfaces. They clearly represent a significant technical
advance on the familiar pick and place industrial robot and have potentially a wide range
of applications in the manufacturing, nuclear, construction, space, underwater and health
care industries. Developments in the field utilise results from the domains of cognitive
science and artificial intelligence, as well as employing aspects of mechanical and electronic
engineering science, real time computing, control and sensor techniques. It is thought that
the successful integration of the required wide range of enabling technologies to produce
viable marketable devices provides one of the most interesting challenges in current
The object of this book is to provide a brief overview of developments in the basic
technologies, survey some recent applications and highlight a number of advanced concepts
and procedures which may influence future directions in the field. Within the text there is
some emphasis on developments within the United Kingdom, although the activities
described are being studied in many other laboratories within the United States, Japan and
the European Union. Currently, the topic is characterised by intense research interest,
funded by significant programmes at national and international level with results being
presented at frequent specialist international conferences. The material of this book thus
cannot possibly aspire to be comprehensive or, indeed, contain the latest results of a very
dynamic and exciting technical field. However, it does aspire to address many of the key
elements of the technology and provide a wide-ranging introduction for postgraduate
students and practising engineers attracted to the challenges of the domain.
Some of the earlier concepts considered in the development of semi-autonomous
robots such as automatic collision avoidance, world modelling, navigation, trajectory
planning, sensory feedback and enhanced human computer interfaces have now been
incorporated into practical machines in a number of industrial and service sectors where
important issues relating to safety and reliability must be appropriately addressed. More
Preface ™
recent concepts drawn from the field of cognitive science have yet to be fully explored in
robotic studies and advances in micro engineering provide opportunities for innovative
robotic development and exploitation.
The book is divided into three sections each of which is provided with editorial
comment to place the contents in an appropriate context. In the first section Chapter 1
provides a brief overview of the subject while the rest of the chapters cover aspects of the
basic generic technologies involved in the evolution of advanced robotic techniques.
Section 2 is concerned with a range of practical applications and contains a number of
surveys of uses in specific domains. Section 3 focuses on emerging technologies such as
microrobotics, learning systems and co-operant robotic behaviour much of which will no
doubt be developed and used to enhance existing and proved technology, increase the
functionality of present systems and add value to marketable machines and processes.
Each chapter is furnished with an extensive bibliography to facilitate further study.
SECTION 1 Technologies for advanced robotics
Editorial comment
Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the topic and a brief overview of the various generic
technologies, application domains and emergent techniques. As such it attempts as far as
possible to provide a template within which all the following chapters in the text can be
placed in an appropriate context. Chapter 2 reviews some of the fundamental concepts in
machine intelligence and early studies in rule-based control and machine learning.
Suitable architectures for intelligent control are briefly surveyed and the reader can find
additional material in Chapters 18 and 19. Further developments in learning systems are
covered in Chapters 21 and 22. Chapter 3 deals with advanced control techniques for
robotic arms and includes procedures for reactive collision avoidance and the control of
arm systems with inherent redundancy. This technique allows quite complex and dextrous
devices to be successfully deployed in relatively unstructured environments. Chapter 4
focuses on gripping procedures for robot end-effectors and provides a systematic approach
to the design of grippers for the safe acquisition and manipulation of objects with bounded
parameters but of arbitrary shape. Such a facility is vital for the successful deployment
of robots capable of coping with a range of target objects which may or may not be
predictable in shape.
A key factor of modern robots is the incorporation of sensors in direct feedback
loops for enhanced performance and this is a common theme in the remaining three
chapters of this section. Force feedback control which is considered in Chapter 5 is an
essential requirement for the proper deployment of robot operated tools and for the safe
operation of the robot arm in unstructured environments where interaction is necessary but
impact energies are to be minimised. The procedure of active compliance control is
considered in some detail as it is regarded as being the most easily implemented technique
for practical robot devices. The application of additional sensors, including audio, video
and multifunctional tactile transducers offers the possibility of wide-ranging feedback
configurations in teleoperation including the creation of so-called telepresence effects.
This latter objective, as discussed in Chapter 6, provides an enhanced human/machine
interface, which will, by exploiting natural human capabilities, optimise operator
performance when controlling complex devices which are remotely located. The need for
xviii Preface
such procedures will clearly increase with the complexity of the devices under control and
the concomitant required to reduce cognitive loading and enhance operator efficiency.
The final chapter in this section considers the general aspects of sensing and sensor
management with emphasis on applications to mobile automata. Such devices will
normally have a range of sensors each with its own performance envelope and it is
important to optimise overall system performance and minimise the effects of noise and
uncertainty. The fusion of the outputs of a number of sensors is now a common feature
of advanced robotic devices and there is a requirement to optimise signal processing
techniques to ensure that the robot controllers are presented with the best hypothesis of the
state of the robots environment in the presence of significant sensor uncertainties. The
concepts presented in this chapter are central to the development of complex automata
which are capable of flexible operation in unstructured and possibly hazardous
SECTION 2 Applications
Editorial comment
Given the potentially hazardous nature of its materials and its processes it is not surprising
that the nuclear industry was an early user of advanced teleoperated robotic procedures
and a review of the installed systems in one large nuclear processing company is outlined
in Chapter 8. Extensive use is now made of stereo vision systems, computer based three
dimensional modelling techniques and direct force feedback to provide operator 'feel'
during joystick manipulation. Once a three dimensional model of the robot's environment
has been created it is a relatively easy step to provide computer generated stereo images
to create a virtual reality environment for the operator and this, combined with stereo
video overlays, trajectory control, automatic collision avoidance and direct force feedback
provides a very powerful teleoperated system for safe operation in complex environmental
topologies. It has been shown that a not dissimilar overall system design philosophy can
be applied to robotic surgery which has similar overriding requirements for safety.
Accurate three dimensional models of target environments can be created by computer
tomography and the resulting data-base used for the precision guidance of robot operated
instruments which can be equipped with sensors for the generation of direct force feedback
effects. More recent developments include the use of virtual reality operator environments
for key hole surgery procedures. The overall aspiration is to increase the accuracy and
quality of surgical procedures, minimise trauma and speed patient recovery. An overview
of recent trends in this evolving field is given in Chapter 9.
The next two chapters in this section also deal with specialist applications of
robotic techniques but have a common theme of transport and mobility. Chapter 10
focuses on the development of the intelligent autonomous car which is essentially a fully
instrumented mobile robot with a capability of automatic collision avoidance and having
advanced control and navigation capabilities. The final objective here is to enhance both
the safety and utilisation of the existing motorway networks. Both of these factors could
have a very significant economic impact on transport policy and costs. Although wheeled
and tracked vehicles provide the basis for most transportation systems there are some
topologies where legged devices may provide practical solutions. Such devices present
complex problems in gait control and stability but have the advantage of imposing a
Preface ixx
relatively small 'footprint' on any environment and the ability to deal with relatively large
discrete obstacles in a relatively elegant manner. Some work has been undertaken to
develop anthropomorphic bipedal robots but the hexapodal configuration described in
Chapter 11 offers advantages in load carrying and stability and practical hexapodal robots
have been developed for possible use in forestry environments and planetary exploration.
The remaining chapters of this section are concerned with aspects of automation
in manufacturing with some emphasis on the use of robotic devices in industries such as
garment manufacturing, food production and agriculture which hitherto have not been
regarded as suitable application domains for robotisation.
Traditionally robots have been used for the operation on and manipulation of rigid
devices in automated manufacture thus precluding their use in, for example, the large
clothing manufacturing sector which deals essentially with the handling and processing
of sheet like limp materials. The techniques presented in Chapter 12 outline the advances
made in the automated handling of flexible materials by using innovative gripper systems
and vision sensors. Combining these techniques with input procedures such as laser
scanning and 3-D modelling could provide a comprehensive CAD/CAM system for
garment manufacture which would have a very significant impact on the industry.
Meat, fish and poultry products also lack rigid structures and the generally well
defined dimensionalities usually associated with robot manipulated objects. Advances in
robotic sensors and feedback procedures now allow applications in the food processing
sector with advantages including enhanced cleanliness due to the absence of human
operators, improved yield due to accurate and consistent cutting procedures and generally
improved quality of the final product. Another advantage is that the processing operation
can take place in environmental conditions such as low temperature which enhance
product shelf-life but which would be quite inimical to human operators. The success of
any application depends on the development of innovative grippers, the development of
mechanisms which are optimised for speed and capacity rather than accuracy and the
availably of high speed image processing techniques to deal with product variability
during fast production runs. Somewhat in contrast the robotic milking procedure outlined
in Chapter 14 considers a relatively simply but elegant engineering solution to a process
that has existed since the dawn of agriculture. Simple but cleverly arranged sensors locate
the target zone for the application of a safe compliant end- effector. This application
could perhaps not be further from the traditional use of robotics in high speed automation
but in common with robotic surgery represents the application of automation procedures
in a process which is generally regarded as being difficult and requiring unique human
skills and sensitivity.
The final chapter in this section returns to more traditional aspects of automation
and a describes a practical application of modern image processing techniques in the
automated products of semi-conductor wafers. The chapter includes an extensive review
of existing procedures in the important field of robot sensors.
Section 3 Advanced concepts and procedures
Editorial comment
The aim of this section is to present some of the more recent research themes in robotic
systems which may well mature into practical techniques in robotics and intelligent
xx Preface
automation systems. One of the more interesting concepts now discussed widely in the
research literature is that of using multiple robotic devices in some co-ordinated (but not
necessarily closely synchronised) way to accomplish a complex task. The objective may
be to replace a single complex robot with a group of simpler and, perhaps, more robust
devices to provide a degree of redundancy in any process; alternatively, the object may
be to create a group of co-operating semi-autonomous machines each with a different
functionality operating within an unstructured environment to undertake a task such as
surface mining or construction. Some of the basic concepts and possible application
domains are discussed in Chapter 16, where allusions are made to biological paradigms.
This theme is further developed in Chapter 17 where the focus is on the exploitation of
miniature and microrobotic devices. Silicon technology is normally associated with the
development of computing devices but the material can be machined and fabricated to
produce electric motors, mechanisms and drives which have the physical dimensions of
the order of a few micrometers. These components can be assembled into microrobots
having minute end- effectors and sensors with the computing elements being integrated
with the robot's silicon infrastructure. Possible applications lie in process and machine
scavenging, environmental surveillance and invasive medicine. Whether the set of
multiple robots consists of a swarm of microrobots or groups of very large mobile
machines, a sound methodology must be evolved for co-ordinating their activities to
achieve the specified task. Traditional, hierarchical, deterministic procedures do not
appear to address the problem of complex interactions amongst multiple robots in an
efficient way and some recent emphasis has been placed on the study of behavioural or
reactive control architectures. These are reviewed briefly in Chapter 18 and the theme is
continued in Chapter 19 which describes a so-called behavioural synthesis architecture
suitable for the co-operant operation of a set of mobile robots. While demonstrating the
efficacy of the behavioural approach, it is clear that there is much to be gained in evolving
hybrid system architectures which combine behavioural characteristics with top level
planning and trajectory control. Previous chapters in this section have concentrated on
mobile robots and Chapter 20, in contrast, focuses on the control problem associated with
the development of co-operative behaviour in coupled manipulators. The object here is
to produce a safe, practical working prototype using existing hardware and software
elements. The techniques employed include global sensing based on laser rangefinding,
predictive modelling and fast parallel processing using transputer devices.
The remaining chapters of this section are concerned with aspects of learning
systems based on the ubiquitous neural network. There are clearly many situations where
it is advantageous for a robot to extrapolate from a priori knowledge and learn about
variations in its environment. The study of such learning procedures is probably one of
the most intensely researched aspects of robotics at this time. Chapter 21 presents a broad
introduction to neural networks and their application to automation. Various practical
implementations are reviewed. Chapter 22 returns to the problem of real-time robot
control which includes the implementation of neural networks and genetic algorithms.
The advantages of parallel processing are emphasised and this is now a common feature
of many advanced real-time control systems. Further successful developments will almost
certainly incorporate powerful, distributed computing elements embedded within an
architecture that facilitates both learning procedures and planning operations and permits
efficient remote and safe human interventions as and when necessary.
J O Gray, November 1995
There are many people and organisations to be acknowledged for their contributions and
assistance in preparing and publishing this book. Our fear is that we may overlook some
whose contributions were significant enough to merit inclusion. To those we may have
overlooked, if there are any, we apologise in advance.
We would like to thank all the authors for their time and patience in preparation of
draft and final manuscripts. We are particularly indebted to Sandra Gorse and Maureen
Simhon for their efforts in getting the book into a coherent structure and their patience
through the many revisions.
Finally on behalf of the authors, we could like to thank the IEE for their assistance
in the production of this book and in particular Fiona MacDonald, Robin Mellors-Bourne
and John St.Aubyn.
J O Gray
D G Caldwell
November 1995
D.P Barnes
Department of Electronic & Electrical
University of Salford
Salford M5 4WT
J.M. Bishop
Department of Cybernetics
University of Reading
Reading RG6 2AY
C.L Boddy
Intelligent Systems Solutions Ltd
University Road
Salford M5 4PP
D.G. Caldwell
Department of Electronic &
Electrical Engineering
University of Salford
Salford M5 4WT
R.W. Daniel
Department of Engineering Science
Oxford University
Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3PJ
J.S. Dai
Department of Aeronautical &
Mechanical Engineering
University of Salford
Salford M5 4WT
P. Dario
Scuola Superiore S. Anna
Via Carducci 40
56127 Pisa
B.L. Davies
Imperial College of Science,
Technology & Medicine
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Exhibition Road
London SO 2BX
G. Dodds
Department of Electronic &
Electrical Engineering
Queen's University of Belfast
Ashby Building
Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5AH
E. Grant
Department of Computer Science
University of Strathclyde
J.O. Gray
Department of Electronic &
Electrical Engineering
University of Salford
Salford M5 4WT
R.C. Hall
Silso Research Institute
Wrest Park
Bedford MK45 4HS
R.H. Tribe
Lucas Advanced Engineering Centre
Dog Kennel Lane
Solihull B904JJ
A. Halme
Automation Technology Laboratory
Helsinki University of Technology
Otakaari 5A
K. Khodabandehloo
University of Bristol
1st Floor, Fanum House
23-32 Park Row
Bristol BS1 5LY
A. Lush
Department of Computer Science
University of Wales
Dyfed SY23 3DB
P.E. Mort
British Nuclear Fuels
Cumbria CA20 1PG
J.E. Vaughan
Electrical Engineering Department
Cockcroft Building
University of Brighton
Brighton BN2 4GJ
A.M.S. Zalzala
Department of Automatic Control
& Systems Engineering
University of Sheffield
Mappin Street
Sheffield SI 4DU
PJ. Probert
Department of Engineering Science
Oxford University
Oxford 0X1 3PJ
P.M. Taylor
Department of Electronic &
Electrical Engineering
University of Hull
Hull HE 7RX