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 Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion
24.07.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot
21.07.2017 | Stanford University

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: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>