Special Issue on Focused Areas and Future Trends of Bio-Inspired Robots “Analysis, Control, and Design for Bio-Inspired Robotics”
Kin Huat Low, Shuxiang Guo, Xinyan Deng, Ravi Vaidyanathan, James Tangorra, Hoon Cheol Park, and Fumiya Iida
The science of biomimetics is about “the abstraction of good design from nature.” The goal of this scientific field is to identify specific desirable features in the biological systems and apply them to the design of new products or systems. Engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and business people are increasingly turning towards nature for design inspiration. The combination of biological principles, mechanical engineering, and robotics has opened entirely new areas and possibilities. On the other hand, we can see that nature can serve as an important source of inspiration to foster innovation. Industrial applications designers can exploit millions of years of tinkering and tweaking by borrowing from nature’s best designs and applying these to new problems and situations. Through biomimetics, we are able to learn and mimic the aforementioned abilities from biology to effectively promote the development of science and technology. In this special issue, you will find a total of eleven papers covering various biomimetics research with focus on analysis, control, design, and simulation. The articles in this issue are contributed by authors from several countries (USA, Japan, UK, China, Switzerland, Brunei, and Singapore) and are grouped into three categories: analysis, control, and design. In the first paper, Kim and Kurabayashi formulate the stability conditions for the artificial pheromone potential field. On the basis of the result of the stability analysis, they further presented a pheromone filter for making a smoothing kernel. The proposed filter was applied to the potential field with several peaks and used by the mobile agent. They are developing a fully automated pheromone robotic system, which aims at achieving a system closer to the natural biological world. In the second paper by Zhang and He, the influence of reciprocal effect between swimming models and morphologic on the fin propulsion performance is analyzed. From the simulation and experiments, they find that the compliance of the distribution mode of fin outline with amplitude envelope can generate better propulsion force. The results are useful for the optimal design of undulating robotic fins. For the third paper, Gouwanda and Senanayake introduce the use of wearable wireless gyroscopes for estimating gait stability. An experimental study was conducted to verify the validity of this approach. The result is expected to be employed in clinical research to assist clinicians and biomechanists in further study, which allows clinicians and biomechanists to devise appropriate strategies that improve human walking stability and reduce the risk of falls in the elderly. In another paper, Pang, Guo, and Song present an implementation of a continuous upper limb motion recognition method based on surface electromyography (sEMG) into control of an Upper Limb Exoskeleton Rehabilitation Device (ULERD). Experimental results showed that this method is effective for obtaining a control source through raw sEMG signals derived from the unaffected arm for motor control of a ULERD equipped on the affected arm during bilateral rehabilitation in real-time. There are three papers related to the control of bioinspired robots. In the paper by Sinnet and Ames, a sagittal walking is designed using Human-Inspired Control which produces human-like bipedal walking with good stability properties. The proposed control scheme, which is based on a fundamental understanding of human walking, is validated in both simulation and experiment. In the second paper, Cheng and Deng have presented a filtered-error based controller for attitude stabilization and tracking in flapping flight. By approximating nonlinear terms in the dynamic equation, the controller has successfully achieved stabilization and tracking tasks for two different insect models. Compared to a Linear Quadratic Gaussian (LQG) controller designed solely for stabilization purposes, the current controller achieves faster convergence and a broader stable region. In order to tackle such a discrepancy between biological and artificial systems, Maheshwari, Gunura and Iida present the concept and design of an adaptive clutch mechanism that discretely covers the full-range of dynamics. This novel actuation principle is then tested in a case study of position and trajectory control for a simple pendulum. The preliminary investigation of this actuation principle has shown a few potentially interesting research directions in the future. The four papers in this special issue cover the design and simulation. In the first paper, Chi and Low introduce the background of fin designs for robotic manta ray. After having analyzed and summarized the various designs, the structure of fin ray effect is investigated in depth. Their characteristics in motion are revealed through kinematic analysis, and the potential design for their RoMan IV with such structure is also presented. The work in the second paper by Boxerbaum et al. reports on the design and optimization of a biologically inspired amphibious robot for deployment and operation in an ocean beach environment. The authors present a new design fusing a range of insect-inspired passive mechanisms with active autonomous control architectures to seamlessly adapt to and traverse through a range of challenging substrates both in and out of the water. A bio-inspired adaptive perching mechanism is presented in the third paper by Chi et al. Based on the anatomy analysis of bird’s perching, some guiding principles for the perching mechanism design are obtained. By making use of motion capture system, reliability of the designed perching mechanism under static conditions is validated. Experiment results show that the perching mechanism is applicable to wide ranges of perching angles and target diameters. In the last paper, Guo et al. present virtual-reality simulators for training with force feedback in Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS). This application allows generating realistic physical-based models of catheters and blood vessels, and enables surgeons to touch, feel and manipulate virtual catheter inside a vascular model through the same surgical operation mode as is used in actual MIS. The special issue of the Journal of Robotics and Mechatronics on Focused Areas and Future Trends of Bio-Inspired Robots at a particularly appropriate time when the area of biomimetics has attracted a growing interest in recent years in developing autonomous robots that can interact in an unknown environment. Research has also shown that biologically inspired robots will exhibit much greater adaptivity and robustness in performance in unstructured environments than today’s conventional robots. This new class of robots will be substantially more compliant and stable than current robots, and will take advantage of new developments in materials, fabrication technologies, sensors and actuators. Applications of bio-inspired robots will include autonomous or semi-autonomous tasks such as reconnaissance and de-mining for small, insect-like robots and human interaction tasks at a larger scale. We would like to thank the authors for contributing their research papers to this special issue, and the reviewers who, in spite of their busy schedules, took time to provide in-depth comments and constructive criticisms. Last but not least, we would like to thank Editor-in-Chief, Professor Tatsuo Arai, for his support and suggestions to our proposal, which makes the publication of this special issue possible. Our heartfelt thanks go to Mr. Kunihiko Uchida of Fuji Technology Press Ltd. for his professional assistance during the editing process of this special section.
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