Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Robot reconnoiters uncharted terrain

02.02.2012
Mobile robots have many uses. They serve as cleaners, carry out inspections and search for survivors of disasters. But often, there is no map to guide them through unknown territory. Researchers have now developed a mobile robot that can roam uncharted terrain and simultaneously map it – all thanks to an algorithm toolbox.

Industrial robots have been a familiar sight in the workplace for many years. In automotive and household appliance manufacture, for example, they have proved highly reliable on production and assembly lines.


Equipped with multiple sensors and optical cameras, the mobile robot roams over dangerous ground. © Fraunhofer IOSB

But now a new generation of high-tech helpers is at hand: Mobile robots are being used in place of humans to explore hazardous and difficult-to-access environments such as buildings in danger of collapsing, caves, or ground that has been polluted by an industrial accident.

Equipped with sensors and optical cameras, these robots can help rescue services search for victims in the wake of natural disasters, explosions or fires, and can measure concentrations of hazardous substances. There’s just one problem: Often there is no map to show them the location of obstacles and steer them along navigable routes. Yet such maps are critical to ensuring that the high-tech machines are able to make progress, either independently or guided by remote control. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB in Karlsruhe have now developed a roaming land robot that autonomously reconnoiters and maps uncharted terrain. The robot uses special algorithms and multi-sensor data to carve a path through unknown territory.

“To be able to navigate independently, our mobile robot has to fulfill a number of requirements. It must be able to localize itself within its immediate surroundings, continuously recalculate its position as it makes its way through the danger area, and simultaneously refine the map it is generating,” says graduate engineer Christian Frey of the IOSB. To make this possible, he and his team have developed an algorithm toolbox for the robot that runs on a built-in computer. The robot is additionally equipped with a variety of sensors. Odometry sensors measure wheel revolutions, inertial sensors compute accelerations, and distance-measuring sensors register clearance from walls, steps, trees and bushes, to name but a few potential obstacles. Cameras and laser scanners record the environment and assist in the mapping process. The algorithms read the various data supplied by the sensors and use them to determine the robot’s precise location. The interplay of all these different elements concurrently produces a map, which is updated continuously. Experts call the process Simultaneous Localization and Mapping, or SLAM.

Mobile robots face an additional challenge: to find the optimal path that will enable them to complete each individual task. Depending on the situation, this may be the shortest and quickest route, or perhaps the most energy-efficient, i.e. the one that uses the least amount of gasoline. When planning a course, the high-tech helpers must take into account restrictions on mobility such as a limited turning circle, and must navigate around obstacles. And should the environment change, for example as a result of falling objects or earthquake aftershocks, a robot must register this and use its toolbox to recalculate its route.

“We made our toolbox modular, so it’s not difficult to adapt the algorithms to suit different types of mobile robot or specific in- or outdoor application scenarios. For example, it doesn’t matter what sensor set-up is used, or whether the robot has two- or four-wheel drive,” says Frey. The software can be customized to meet the needs of individual users, with development work taking just a few months. Frey adds: “The toolbox is suitable for all sorts of situations, not only accident response scenarios. It can be installed in cleaning robots or lawnmowers, for example, and a further possible application would be in roaming robots used to patrol buildings or inspect gas pipelines for weak points.” From March 6-10, the IOSB researchers will be demonstrating their mobile robot technology at the CeBIT trade fair – visit them at the joint Fraunhofer booth in Hall 9 (Booth E08).

Christian Frey | Fraunhofer Research News
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2012/february/robot-reconnoiters-uncharted-terrain.html

Further reports about: IOSB ROBOT algorithm algorithm toolbox laser scanners mobile robots natural disaster

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer IFAM

nachricht IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world
05.12.2016 | IHP - Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>