Radial-skeleton shape-changing robots are rough-terrain robots and exhibit many advantages in the aspect of mobility, such as excellent terrain adaptability, light weight, good portability, and stable configuration. However, existing gait generation methods are rough and yield low tracking accuracy because the leg-ground contact friction is difficult to predict and control. In addition, no closed-loop control scheme has been proposed for this type of robot. In this study, we designed a 12-legged radial-skeleton robot with a radial expansion ratio of 2.08. Based on the prototype, we proposed a high-precision gait generation algorithm that can be used to any multi-legged radial-skeleton robot and implemented a closed-loop control scheme for accurate path tracking. Combining the contact friction and multi-body dynamics model, the robot prototype exhibits the advantages of omnidirectional motion, high-precision tracking, and motion robustness. By manufacturing a prototype and conducting comparative experiments, we verified that the proposed method yields good performance in terms of trajectory tracking accuracy and robustness in the cases of unknown terrain and interference.
In the agricultural industry, an evolutionary effort has been made over the last two decades to achieve precise autonomous systems to perform typical in-field tasks including harvesting, mowing, and spraying. One of the main objectives of an autonomous system in agriculture is to improve the efficiency while reducing the environmental impact and cost. Due to the nature of these operations, complete coverage path planning approaches play an essential role to find an optimal path which covers the entire field while taking into account land topography, operation requirements and robot characteristics. The aim of this paper is to propose a complete coverage path planning approach defining the optimal movements of mobile robots over an agricultural field. First, a method based on tree exploration is proposed to find all potential solutions satisfying some predefined constraints. Second, a Similarity check and selection of optimal solutions method is proposed to eliminate similar solutions and find the best solutions. The optimization goals are to maximize the coverage area and to minimize overlaps, non-working path length and overall travel time. In order to explore a wide range of possible solutions, our approach is able to consider multiple entrances for the robot. For fields with a complex shape, different dividing lines to split it into simple polygons are also considered. Our approach also computes the headland zones and covers them automatically which leads to a high coverage rate of the field.
Long-term operation of autonomous robots creates new challenges to the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM). Varying conditions of the vehicle’s surroundings, such as appearance variations (lighting, daytime, weather, or seasonal) or reconfigurations of the environment, are a challenge for SLAM algorithms to adapt to new changes while preserving old states. When also operating for long periods and trajectory lengths, the map should readjust to environment changes but not grow indefinitely, where the map size should be dependent only on the explored environment area. Long-term SLAM intends to overcome the challenges associated with lifelong autonomy and improve the robustness of autonomous systems. Although several studies review SLAM algorithms, none of them focus on lifelong autonomy. Thus, this paper presents a systematic literature review on long-term localization and mapping following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. The review analyzes 142 works covering appearance invariance, modeling the environment dynamics, map size management, multi-session, and computational issues including parallel computing and timming efficiency. The analysis also focus on the experimental data and evaluation metrics commonly used to assess long-term autonomy. Moreover, an overview over the bibliographic data of the 142 records provides analysis in terms of keywords and authorship co-occurrence to identify the terms more used in long-term SLAM and research networks between authors, respectively. Future studies can update this paper thanks to the systematic methodology presented in the review and the public GitHub repository with all the documentation and scripts used during the review process.
Hydrobatic Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) can be efficient in range and speed, as well as agile in maneuvering. They can be beneficial in scenarios such as obstacle-avoidance, inspections, docking, and under-ice operations. However, such AUVs are underactuated systems - this means exploiting the system dynamics is key to achieving elegant hydrobatic maneuvers with minimum controls. This paper explores the use of Model Predictive Control (MPC) techniques to control underactuated AUVs in hydrobatic maneuvers and presents new simulation and experimental results with the small and hydrobatic SAM AUV. Simulations are performed using nonlinear MPC (NMPC) on the full AUV system to provide optimal control policies for several hydrobatic maneuvers in Matlab/Simulink. For implementation on AUV hardware in ROS, a linear time varying MPC (LTV-MPC) is derived from the nonlinear model to enable real-time control. In simulations, NMPC and LTV-MPC shows promising results to offer much more efficient control strategies than what can be obtained with PID and LQR based controllers in terms of rise-time, overshoot, steady-state error and robustness. The LTV-MPC shows satisfactory real-time performance in experimental validation. The paper further also demonstrates experimentally that LTV-MPC can be run real-time on the AUV in performing hydrobatic maneouvers.