Legged robots with high locomotive performance have been extensively studied, and various leg structures have been proposed. Especially, a leg structure that can achieve both continuous and high jumps is advantageous for moving around in a three-dimensional environment. In this study, we propose a parallel wire-driven leg structure, which has one DoF of linear motion and two DoFs of rotation and is controlled by six wires, as a structure that can achieve both continuous jumping and high jumping. The proposed structure can simultaneously achieve high controllability on each DoF, long acceleration distance and high power required for jumping. In order to verify the jumping performance of the parallel wire-driven leg structure, we have developed a parallel wire-driven monopedal robot, RAMIEL. RAMIEL is equipped with quasi-direct drive, high power wire winding mechanisms and a lightweight leg, and can achieve a maximum jumping height of 1.6 m and a maximum of seven continuous jumps.
Experimentation on real robots is demanding in terms of time and costs. For this reason, a large part of the reinforcement learning (RL) community uses simulators to develop and benchmark algorithms. However, insights gained in simulation do not necessarily translate to real robots, in particular for tasks involving complex interactions with the environment. The Real Robot Challenge 2022 therefore served as a bridge between the RL and robotics communities by allowing participants to experiment remotely with a real robot - as easily as in simulation. In the last years, offline reinforcement learning has matured into a promising paradigm for learning from pre-collected datasets, alleviating the reliance on expensive online interactions. We therefore asked the participants to learn two dexterous manipulation tasks involving pushing, grasping, and in-hand orientation from provided real-robot datasets. An extensive software documentation and an initial stage based on a simulation of the real set-up made the competition particularly accessible. By giving each team plenty of access budget to evaluate their offline-learned policies on a cluster of seven identical real TriFinger platforms, we organized an exciting competition for machine learners and roboticists alike. In this work we state the rules of the competition, present the methods used by the winning teams and compare their results with a benchmark of state-of-the-art offline RL algorithms on the challenge datasets.
Biomimetic, dexterous robotic hands have the potential to replicate much of the tasks that a human can do, and to achieve status as a general manipulation platform. Recent advances in reinforcement learning (RL) frameworks have achieved remarkable performance in quadrupedal locomotion and dexterous manipulation tasks. Combined with GPU-based highly parallelized simulations capable of simulating thousands of robots in parallel, RL-based controllers have become more scalable and approachable. However, in order to bring RL-trained policies to the real world, we require training frameworks that output policies that can work with physical actuators and sensors as well as a hardware platform that can be manufactured with accessible materials yet is robust enough to run interactive policies. This work introduces the biomimetic tendon-driven Faive Hand and its system architecture, which uses tendon-driven rolling contact joints to achieve a 3D printable, robust high-DoF hand design. We model each element of the hand and integrate it into a GPU simulation environment to train a policy with RL, and achieve zero-shot transfer of a dexterous in-hand sphere rotation skill to the physical robot hand.
Dynamic motions are a key feature of robotic arms, enabling them to perform tasks quickly and efficiently. Soft continuum manipulators do not currently consider dynamic parameters when operating in task space. This shortcoming makes existing soft robots slow and limits their ability to deal with external forces, especially during object manipulation. We address this issue by using dynamic operational space control. Our control approach takes into account the dynamic parameters of the 3D continuum arm and introduces new models that enable multi-segment soft manipulators to operate smoothly in task space. Advanced control methods, previously afforded only to rigid robots, are now adapted to soft robots; for example, potential field avoidance was previously only shown for rigid robots and is now extended to soft robots. Using our approach, a soft manipulator can now achieve a variety of tasks that were previously not possible: we evaluate the manipulator's performance in closed-loop controlled experiments such as pick-and-place, obstacle avoidance, throwing objects using an attached soft gripper, and deliberately applying forces to a surface by drawing with a grasped piece of chalk. Besides the newly enabled skills, our approach improves tracking accuracy by 59% and increases speed by a factor of 19.3 compared to state of the art for task space control. With these newfound abilities, soft robots can start to challenge rigid robots in the field of manipulation. Our inherently safe and compliant soft robot moves the future of robotic manipulation towards a cageless setup where humans and robots work in parallel.
Soft robots are made of compliant and deformable materials and can perform tasks challenging for conventional rigid robots. The inherent compliance of soft robots makes them more suitable and adaptable for interactions with humans and the environment. However, this preeminence comes at a cost: their continuum nature makes it challenging to develop robust model-based control strategies. Specifically, an adaptive control approach addressing this challenge has not yet been applied to physical soft robotic arms. This work presents a reformulation of dynamics for a soft continuum manipulator using the Euler-Lagrange method. The proposed model eliminates the simplifying assumption made in previous works and provides a more accurate description of the robot's inertia. Based on our model, we introduce a task-space adaptive control scheme. This controller is robust against model parameter uncertainties and unknown input disturbances. The controller is implemented on a physical soft continuum arm. A series of experiments were carried out to validate the effectiveness of the controller in task-space trajectory tracking under different payloads. The controller outperforms the state-of-the-art method both in terms of accuracy and robustness. Moreover, the proposed model-based control design is flexible and can be generalized to any continuum robotic arm with an arbitrary number of continuum segments.
* For associated video, see https://youtu.be/wiyJgA0aIhU. This work has
been submitted to the 2022 IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA
2022 with RA-L option) for possible publication. Copyright may be transferred
without notice, after which this version may no longer be accessible
Due to their inherent compliance, soft robots are more versatile than rigid linked robots when they interact with their environment, such as object manipulation or biomimetic motion, and considered the key element in introducing robots to everyday environments. Although various soft robotic actuators exist, past research has focused primarily on designing and analyzing single components. Limited effort has been made to combine each component to create an overall capable, integrated soft robot. Ideally, the behavior of such a robot can be accurately modeled, and its motion within an environment uses its proprioception, without requiring external sensors. This work presents a design and modeling process for a Soft continuum Proprioceptive Arm (SoPrA) actuated by pneumatics. The integrated design is suitable for an analytical model due to its internal capacitive flex sensor for proprioceptive measurements and its fiber-reinforced fluidic elastomer actuators. The proposed analytical dynamical model accounts for the inertial effects of the actuator's mass and the material properties, and predicts in real-time the soft robot's behavior. Our estimation method integrates the analytical model with proprioceptive sensors to calculate external forces, all without relying on an external motion capture system. SoPrA is validated in a series of experiments demonstrating the model's and sensor's accuracy in estimation. SoPrA will enable soft arm manipulation including force sensing while operating in obstructed environments that disallows exteroceptive measurements.
* 8 pages, 8 figures, 2021 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on
Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2021). For associated video, see