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2018


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Incorporation of Terbium into a Microalga Leads to Magnetotactic Swimmers

Santomauro, G., Singh, A., Park, B. W., Mohammadrahimi, M., Erkoc, P., Goering, E., Schütz, G., Sitti, M., Bill, J.

Advanced Biosystems, 2(12):1800039, 2018 (article)

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[BibTex]

2018


[BibTex]


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

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

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

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Morphological intelligence counters foot slipping in the desert locust and dynamic robots

Woodward, M. A., Sitti, M.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115, pages: E8358-E8367, 2018 (article)

Abstract
During dynamic terrestrial locomotion, animals use complex multifunctional feet to extract friction from the environment. However, whether roboticists assume sufficient surface friction for locomotion or actively compensate for slipping, they use relatively simple point-contact feet. We seek to understand and extract the morphological adaptations of animal feet that contribute to enhancing friction on diverse surfaces, such as the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) [Bennet-Clark HC (1975) J Exp Biol 63:53–83], which has both wet adhesive pads and spines. A buckling region in their knee to accommodate slipping [Bayley TG, Sutton GP, Burrows M (2012) J Exp Biol 215:1151–1161], slow nerve conduction velocity (0.5–3 m/s) [Pearson KG, Stein RB, Malhotra SK (1970) J Exp Biol 53:299–316], and an ecological pressure to enhance jumping performance for survival [Hawlena D, Kress H, Dufresne ER, Schmitz OJ (2011) Funct Ecol 25:279–288] further suggest that the locust operates near the limits of its surface friction, but without sufficient time to actively control its feet. Therefore, all surface adaptation must be through passive mechanics (morphological intelligence), which are unknown. Here, we report the slipping behavior, dynamic attachment, passive mechanics, and interplay between the spines and adhesive pads, studied through both biological and robotic experiments, which contribute to the locust’s ability to jump robustly from diverse surfaces. We found slipping to be surface-dependent and common (e.g., wood 1.32 ± 1.19 slips per jump), yet the morphological intelligence of the feet produces a significant chance to reengage the surface (e.g., wood 1.10 ± 1.13 reengagements per jump). Additionally, a discovered noncontact-type jump, further studied robotically, broadens the applicability of the morphological adaptations to both static and dynamic attachment.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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

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

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

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Three‐dimensional patterning in biomedicine: Importance and applications in neuropharmacology

Singh, A. V., Gharat, T., Batuwangala, M., Park, B. W., Endlein, T., Sitti, M.

Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B: Applied Biomaterials, 106(3):1369-1382, 2018 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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3D nanoprinted plastic kinoform x-ray optics

Sanli, U. T., Ceylan, H., Bykova, I., Weigand, M., Sitti, M., Schütz, G., Keskinbora, K.

{Advanced Materials}, 30(36), Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2018 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Controllable switching between planar and helical flagellar swimming of a soft robotic sperm

Khalil, I. S. M., Tabak, A. F., Seif, M. A., Klingner, A., Sitti, M.

PloS One, 13(11):e0206456, 2018 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Kinetics of orbitally shaken particles constrained to two dimensions

Ipparthi, D., Hageman, T. A. G., Cambier, N., Sitti, M., Dorigo, M., Abelmann, L., Mastrangeli, M.

Physical Review E, 98(4):042137, 2018 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Seed-mediated synthesis of plasmonic gold nanoribbons using cancer cells for hyperthermia applications

Singh, A. V., Alapan, Y., Jahnke, T., Laux, P., Luch, A., Aghakhani, A., Kharratian, S., Onbasli, M. C., Bill, J., Sitti, M.

Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 6(46):7573-7581, 2018 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Unsupervised Contact Learning for Humanoid Estimation and Control

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

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

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

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Learning Task-Specific Dynamics to Improve Whole-Body Control

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

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

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

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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An MPC Walking Framework With External Contact Forces

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

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

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

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2015


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Untethered Magnetic Micromanipulation

Diller, E., Sitti, M.

In Micro-and Nanomanipulation Tools, 13, 10, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, November 2015 (inbook)

Abstract
This chapter discusses the methods and state of the art in microscale manipulation in remote environments using untethered microrobotic devices. It focuses on manipulation at the size scale of tens to hundreds of microns, where small size leads to a dominance of microscale physical effects and challenges in fabrication and actuation. To motivate the challenges of operating at this size scale, the chapter includes coverage of the physical forces relevant to microrobot motion and manipulation below the millimeter-size scale. It then introduces the actuation methods commonly used in untethered manipulation schemes, with particular focus on magnetic actuation due to its wide use in the field. The chapter divides these manipulation techniques into two types: contact manipulation, which relies on direct pushing or grasping of objects for motion, and noncontact manipulation, which relies indirectly on induced fluid flow from the microrobot motion to move objects without any direct contact.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2015


DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Distributed Event-based State Estimation

Trimpe, S.

Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, November 2015 (techreport)

Abstract
An event-based state estimation approach for reducing communication in a networked control system is proposed. Multiple distributed sensor-actuator-agents observe a dynamic process and sporadically exchange their measurements and inputs over a bus network. Based on these data, each agent estimates the full state of the dynamic system, which may exhibit arbitrary inter-agent couplings. Local event-based protocols ensure that data is transmitted only when necessary to meet a desired estimation accuracy. This event-based scheme is shown to mimic a centralized Luenberger observer design up to guaranteed bounds, and stability is proven in the sense of bounded estimation errors for bounded disturbances. The stability result extends to the distributed control system that results when the local state estimates are used for distributed feedback control. Simulation results highlight the benefit of the event-based approach over classical periodic ones in reducing communication requirements.

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arXiv [BibTex]

arXiv [BibTex]


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Learning Torque Control in Presence of Contacts using Tactile Sensing from Robot Skin

Calandra, R., Ivaldi, S., Deisenroth, M., Peters, J.

In 15th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 690-695, Humanoids, November 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Evaluation of Interactive Object Recognition with Tactile Sensing

Hoelscher, J., Peters, J., Hermans, T.

In 15th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 310-317, Humanoids, November 2015 (inproceedings)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Optimizing Robot Striking Movement Primitives with Iterative Learning Control

Koc, O., Maeda, G., Neumann, G., Peters, J.

In 15th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 80-87, Humanoids, November 2015 (inproceedings)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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A Comparison of Contact Distribution Representations for Learning to Predict Object Interactions

Leischnig, S., Luettgen, S., Kroemer, O., Peters, J.

In 15th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 616-622, Humanoids, November 2015 (inproceedings)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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First-Person Tele-Operation of a Humanoid Robot

Fritsche, L., Unverzagt, F., Peters, J., Calandra, R.

In 15th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 997-1002, Humanoids, November 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Probabilistic Segmentation Applied to an Assembly Task

Lioutikov, R., Neumann, G., Maeda, G., Peters, J.

In 15th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 533-540, Humanoids, November 2015 (inproceedings)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Automatic LQR Tuning Based on Gaussian Process Optimization: Early Experimental Results

Marco, A., Hennig, P., Bohg, J., Schaal, S., Trimpe, S.

Machine Learning in Planning and Control of Robot Motion Workshop at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (iROS), pages: , , Machine Learning in Planning and Control of Robot Motion Workshop, October 2015 (conference)

Abstract
This paper proposes an automatic controller tuning framework based on linear optimal control combined with Bayesian optimization. With this framework, an initial set of controller gains is automatically improved according to a pre-defined performance objective evaluated from experimental data. The underlying Bayesian optimization algorithm is Entropy Search, which represents the latent objective as a Gaussian process and constructs an explicit belief over the location of the objective minimum. This is used to maximize the information gain from each experimental evaluation. Thus, this framework shall yield improved controllers with fewer evaluations compared to alternative approaches. A seven-degree-of-freedom robot arm balancing an inverted pole is used as the experimental demonstrator. Preliminary results of a low-dimensional tuning problem highlight the method’s potential for automatic controller tuning on robotic platforms.

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Gaussian Process Optimization for Self-Tuning Control

Marco, A.

Polytechnic University of Catalonia (BarcelonaTech), October 2015 (mastersthesis)

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PDF Project Page [BibTex]

PDF Project Page [BibTex]


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Compliant wing design for a flapping wing micro air vehicle

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

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

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

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Methods of forming dry adhesive structures

Sitti, M., Murphy, M., Aksak, B.

September 2015, US Patent 9,120,953 (patent)

Abstract
Methods of forming dry adhesives including a method of making a dry adhesive including applying a liquid polymer to the second end of the stem, molding the liquid polymer on the stem in a mold, wherein the mold includes a recess having a cross-sectional area that is less than a cross-sectional area of the second end of the stem, curing the liquid polymer in the mold to form a tip at the second end of the stem, wherein the tip includes a second layer stem; corresponding to the recess in the mold, and removing the tip from the mold after the liquid polymer cures.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Stabilizing Novel Objects by Learning to Predict Tactile Slip

Veiga, F., van Hoof, H., Peters, J., Hermans, T.

In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 5065-5072, IROS, September 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Millimeter-scale magnetic swimmers using elastomeric undulations

Zhang, J., Diller, E.

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

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

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Model-Free Probabilistic Movement Primitives for Physical Interaction

Paraschos, A., Rueckert, E., Peters, J., Neumann, G.

In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 2860-2866, IROS, September 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Combined Pose-Wrench and State Machine Representation for Modeling Robotic Assembly Skills

Wahrburg, A., Zeiss, S., Matthias, B., Peters, J., Ding, H.

In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 852-857, IROS, September 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Probabilistic Progress Prediction and Sequencing of Concurrent Movement Primitives

Manschitz, S., Kober, J., Gienger, M., Peters, J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 449-455, IROS, September 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Reinforcement Learning vs Human Programming in Tetherball Robot Games

Parisi, S., Abdulsamad, H., Paraschos, A., Daniel, C., Peters, J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 6428-6434, IROS, September 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Learning Motor Skills from Partially Observed Movements Executed at Different Speeds

Ewerton, M., Maeda, G., Peters, J., Neumann, G.

In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 456-463, IROS, September 2015 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Adaptive and Learning Concepts in Hydraulic Force Control

Doerr, A.

University of Stuttgart, September 2015 (mastersthesis)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Experimental investigation of optimal adhesion of mushroomlike elastomer microfibrillar adhesives

Marvi, H., Song, S., Sitti, M.

Langmuir, 31(37):10119-10124, American Chemical Society, August 2015 (article)

Abstract
Optimal fiber designs for the maximal pull-off force have been indispensable for increasing the attachment performance of recently introduced gecko-inspired reversible micro/nanofibrillar adhesives. There are several theoretical studies on such optimal designs; however, due to the lack of three-dimensional (3D) fabrication techniques that can fabricate such optimal designs in 3D, there have not been many experimental investigations on this challenge. In this study, we benefitted from recent advances in two-photon lithography techniques to fabricate mushroomlike polyurethane elastomer fibers with different aspect ratios of tip to stalk diameter (β) and tip wedge angles (θ) to investigate the effect of these two parameters on the pull-off force. We found similar trends to those predicted theoretically. We found that β has an impact on the slope of the force-displacement curve while both β and θ play a role in the stress distribution and crack propagation. We found that these effects are coupled and the optimal set of parameters also depends on the fiber material. This is the first experimental verification of such optimal designs proposed for mushroomlike microfibers. This experimental approach could be used to evaluate a wide range of complex microstructured adhesive designs suggested in the literature and optimize them.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Micro-fiber arrays with tip coating and transfer method for preparing same

Sitti, M., Washburn, N. R., Glass, P. S., Chung, H.

July 2015, US Patent 9,079,215 (patent)

Abstract
Present invention describes a patterned and coated micro- and nano-scale fibers elastomeric material for enhanced adhesion in wet or dry environments. A multi-step fabrication process including optical lithography, micromolding, polymer synthesis, dipping, stamping, and photopolymerization is described to produce uniform arrays of micron-scale fibers with mushroom-shaped tips coated with a thin layer of an intrinsically adhesive synthetic polymer, such as lightly crosslinked p(DMA-co-MEA).

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Direct Loss Minimization Inverse Optimal Control

Doerr, A., Ratliff, N., Bohg, J., Toussaint, M., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems, Rome, Italy, Robotics: Science and Systems XI, July 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Inverse Optimal Control (IOC) has strongly impacted the systems engineering process, enabling automated planner tuning through straightforward and intuitive demonstration. The most successful and established applications, though, have been in lower dimensional problems such as navigation planning where exact optimal planning or control is feasible. In higher dimensional systems, such as humanoid robots, research has made substantial progress toward generalizing the ideas to model free or locally optimal settings, but these systems are complicated to the point where demonstration itself can be difficult. Typically, real-world applications are restricted to at best noisy or even partial or incomplete demonstrations that prove cumbersome in existing frameworks. This work derives a very flexible method of IOC based on a form of Structured Prediction known as Direct Loss Minimization. The resulting algorithm is essentially Policy Search on a reward function that rewards similarity to demonstrated behavior (using Covariance Matrix Adaptation (CMA) in our experiments). Our framework blurs the distinction between IOC, other forms of Imitation Learning, and Reinforcement Learning, enabling us to derive simple, versatile, and practical algorithms that blend imitation and reinforcement signals into a unified framework. Our experiments analyze various aspects of its performance and demonstrate its efficacy on conveying preferences for motion shaping and combined reach and grasp quality optimization.

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PDF Video Project Page [BibTex]

PDF Video Project Page [BibTex]


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LMI-Based Synthesis for Distributed Event-Based State Estimation

Muehlebach, M., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the American Control Conference, July 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper presents an LMI-based synthesis procedure for distributed event-based state estimation. Multiple agents observe and control a dynamic process by sporadically exchanging data over a broadcast network according to an event-based protocol. In previous work [1], the synthesis of event-based state estimators is based on a centralized design. In that case three different types of communication are required: event-based communication of measurements, periodic reset of all estimates to their joint average, and communication of inputs. The proposed synthesis problem eliminates the communication of inputs as well as the periodic resets (under favorable circumstances) by accounting explicitly for the distributed structure of the control system.

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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pH-taxis of biohybrid microsystems

Zhuang, J., Carlsen, R. W., Sitti, M.

Scientific reports, 5, Nature Publishing Group, June 2015 (article)

Abstract
The last decade has seen an increasing number of studies developing bacteria and other cell-integrated biohybrid microsystems. However, the highly stochastic motion of these microsystems severely limits their potential use. Here, we present a method that exploits the pH sensing of flagellated bacteria to realize robust drift control of multi-bacteria propelled microrobots. Under three specifically configured pH gradients, we demonstrate that the microrobots exhibit both unidirectional and bidirectional pH-tactic behaviors, which are also observed in free-swimming bacteria. From trajectory analysis, we find that the swimming direction and speed biases are two major factors that contribute to their tactic drift motion. The motion analysis of microrobots also sheds light on the propulsion dynamics of the flagellated bacteria as bioactuators. It is expected that similar driving mechanisms are shared among pH-taxis, chemotaxis, and thermotaxis. By identifying the mechanism that drives the tactic behavior of bacteria-propelled microsystems, this study opens up an avenue towards improving the control of biohybrid microsystems. Furthermore, assuming that it is possible to tune the preferred pH of bioactuators by genetic engineering, these biohybrid microsystems could potentially be applied to sense the pH gradient induced by cancerous cells in stagnant fluids inside human body and realize targeted drug delivery.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Guaranteed H2 Performance in Distributed Event-Based State Estimation

Muehlebach, M., Trimpe, S.

In Proceeding of the First International Conference on Event-based Control, Communication, and Signal Processing, June 2015 (inproceedings)

am ics

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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On the Choice of the Event Trigger in Event-based Estimation

Trimpe, S., Campi, M.

In Proceeding of the First International Conference on Event-based Control, Communication, and Signal Processing, June 2015 (inproceedings)

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Object Detection Using Deep Learning - Learning where to search using visual attention

Kloss, A.

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, May 2015 (mastersthesis)

Abstract
Detecting and identifying the different objects in an image fast and reliably is an important skill for interacting with one’s environment. The main problem is that in theory, all parts of an image have to be searched for objects on many different scales to make sure that no object instance is missed. It however takes considerable time and effort to actually classify the content of a given image region and both time and computational capacities that an agent can spend on classification are limited. Humans use a process called visual attention to quickly decide which locations of an image need to be processed in detail and which can be ignored. This allows us to deal with the huge amount of visual information and to employ the capacities of our visual system efficiently. For computer vision, researchers have to deal with exactly the same problems, so learning from the behaviour of humans provides a promising way to improve existing algorithms. In the presented master’s thesis, a model is trained with eye tracking data recorded from 15 participants that were asked to search images for objects from three different categories. It uses a deep convolutional neural network to extract features from the input image that are then combined to form a saliency map. This map provides information about which image regions are interesting when searching for the given target object and can thus be used to reduce the parts of the image that have to be processed in detail. The method is based on a recent publication of Kümmerer et al., but in contrast to the original method that computes general, task independent saliency, the presented model is supposed to respond differently when searching for different target categories.

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PDF Project Page [BibTex]


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Fiberbot: A miniature crawling robot using a directional fibrillar pad

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

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

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

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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

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

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

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

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Structural optimization for flexure-based parallel mechanisms–Towards achieving optimal dynamic and stiffness properties

Lum, G. Z., Teo, T. J., Yeo, S. H., Yang, G., Sitti, M.

Precision Engineering, 42, pages: 195-207, Elsevier, May 2015 (article)

Abstract
Flexure-based parallel mechanisms (FPMs) are a type of compliant mechanisms that consist of a rigid end-effector that is articulated by several parallel, flexible limbs (a.k.a. sub-chains). Existing design methods can enhance the FPMs’ dynamic and stiffness properties by conducting a size optimization on their sub-chains. A similar optimization process, however, was not performed for their sub-chains’ topology, and this may severely limit the benefits of a size optimization. Thus, this paper proposes to use a structural optimization approach to synthesize and optimize the topology, shape and size of the FPMs’ sub-chains. The benefits of this approach are demonstrated via the design and development of a planar X − Y − θz FPM. A prototype of this FPM was evaluated experimentally to have a large workspace of 1.2 mm × 1.2 mm × 6°, a fundamental natural frequency of 102 Hz, and stiffness ratios that are greater than 120. The achieved properties show significant improvement over existing 3-degrees-of-freedom compliant mechanisms that can deflect more than 0.5 mm and 0.5°. These compliant mechanisms typically have stiffness ratios that are less than 60 and a fundamental natural frequency that is less than 45 Hz.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Leveraging Big Data for Grasp Planning

Kappler, D., Bohg, B., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We propose a new large-scale database containing grasps that are applied to a large set of objects from numerous categories. These grasps are generated in simulation and are annotated with different grasp stability metrics. We use a descriptive and efficient representation of the local object shape at which each grasp is applied. Given this data, we present a two-fold analysis: (i) We use crowdsourcing to analyze the correlation of the metrics with grasp success as predicted by humans. The results show that the metric based on physics simulation is a more consistent predictor for grasp success than the standard ε-metric. The results also support the hypothesis that human labels are not required for good ground truth grasp data. Instead the physics-metric can be used to generate datasets in simulation that may then be used to bootstrap learning in the real world. (ii) We apply a deep learning method and show that it can better leverage the large-scale database for prediction of grasp success compared to logistic regression. Furthermore, the results suggest that labels based on the physics-metric are less noisy than those from the ε-metric and therefore lead to a better classification performance.

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PDF data DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF data DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Robot Arm Tracking with Random Decision Forests

Widmaier, F.

Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, May 2015 (mastersthesis)

Abstract
For grasping and manipulation with robot arms, knowing the current pose of the arm is crucial for successful controlling its motion. Often, pose estimations can be acquired from encoders inside the arm, but they can have significant inaccuracy which makes the use of additional techniques necessary. In this master thesis, a novel approach of robot arm pose estimation is presented, that works on single depth images without the need of prior foreground segmentation or other preprocessing steps. A random regression forest is used, which is trained only on synthetically generated data. The approach improves former work by Bohg et al. by considerably reducing the computational effort both at training and test time. The forest in the new method directly estimates the desired joint angles while in the former approach, the forest casts 3D position votes for the joints, which then have to be clustered and fed into an iterative inverse kinematic process to finally get the joint angles. To improve the estimation accuracy, the standard training objective of the forest training is replaced by a specialized function that makes use of a model-dependent distance metric, called DISP. Experimental results show that the specialized objective indeed improves pose estimation and it is shown that the method, despite of being trained on synthetic data only, is able to provide reasonable estimations for real data at test time.

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PDF Project Page [BibTex]

PDF Project Page [BibTex]


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Event-based Estimation and Control for Remote Robot Operation with Reduced Communication

Trimpe, S., Buchli, J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
An event-based communication framework for remote operation of a robot via a bandwidth-limited network is proposed. The robot sends state and environment estimation data to the operator, and the operator transmits updated control commands or policies to the robot. Event-based communication protocols are designed to ensure that data is transmitted only when required: the robot sends new estimation data only if this yields a significant information gain at the operator, and the operator transmits an updated control policy only if this comes with a significant improvement in control performance. The developed framework is modular and can be used with any standard estimation and control algorithms. Simulation results of a robotic arm highlight its potential for an efficient use of limited communication resources, for example, in disaster response scenarios such as the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Lernende Roboter

Trimpe, S.

In Jahrbuch der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Max Planck Society, May 2015, (popular science article in German) (inbook)

am ics

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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The Coordinate Particle Filter - A novel Particle Filter for High Dimensional Systems

Wüthrich, M., Bohg, J., Kappler, D., Pfreundt, C., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Parametric filters, such as the Extended Kalman Filter and the Unscented Kalman Filter, typically scale well with the dimensionality of the problem, but they are known to fail if the posterior state distribution cannot be closely approximated by a density of the assumed parametric form. For nonparametric filters, such as the Particle Filter, the converse holds. Such methods are able to approximate any posterior, but the computational requirements scale exponentially with the number of dimensions of the state space. In this paper, we present the Coordinate Particle Filter which alleviates this problem. We propose to compute the particle weights recursively, dimension by dimension. This allows us to explore one dimension at a time, and resample after each dimension if necessary. Experimental results on simulated as well as real data con- firm that the proposed method has a substantial performance advantage over the Particle Filter in high-dimensional systems where not all dimensions are highly correlated. We demonstrate the benefits of the proposed method for the problem of multi-object and robotic manipulator tracking.

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arXiv Video Bayesian Filtering Framework Bayesian Object Tracking DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Autonomous Robots

Schaal, S.

In Jahrbuch der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, May 2015 (incollection)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Controlled surface topography regulates collective 3D migration by epithelial–mesenchymal composite embryonic tissues

Song, J., Shawky, J. H., Kim, Y., Hazar, M., LeDuc, P. R., Sitti, M., Davidson, L. A.

Biomaterials, 58, pages: 1-9, Elsevier, April 2015 (article)

Abstract
Cells in tissues encounter a range of physical cues as they migrate. Probing single cell and collective migratory responses to physically defined three-dimensional (3D) microenvironments and the factors that modulate those responses are critical to understanding how tissue migration is regulated during development, regeneration, and cancer. One key physical factor that regulates cell migration is topography. Most studies on surface topography and cell mechanics have been carried out with single migratory cells, yet little is known about the spreading and motility response of 3D complex multi-cellular tissues to topographical cues. Here, we examine the response to complex topographical cues of microsurgically isolated tissue explants composed of epithelial and mesenchymal cell layers from naturally 3D organized embryos of the aquatic frog Xenopus laevis. We control topography using fabricated micropost arrays (MPAs) and investigate the collective 3D migration of these multi-cellular systems in these MPAs. We find that the topography regulates both collective and individual cell migration and that dense MPAs reduce but do not eliminate tissue spreading. By modulating cell size through the cell cycle inhibitor Mitomycin C or the spacing of the MPAs we uncover how 3D topographical cues disrupt collective cell migration. We find surface topography can direct both single cell motility and tissue spreading, altering tissue-scale processes that enable efficient conversion of single cell motility into collective movement.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]