Autonomous and real-time manipulation and inspection with continuum robots

Autonomous grasping by using a continuum manipulator

Description: This project is supported by the US National Science Foundation Grant(IIS-0904093). Continuum manipulators, featuring “continuous backbone structures”, are promising for deft manipulation of a wide range of objects under uncertain conditions in less-structured and cluttered environments. A multi-section trunk/tentacle robot is such a continuum manipulator. With a continuum robot, manipulation means a continuous whole arm motion, where the arm is often bent into a continuously deforming concave shape, which is different from articulated arms and will be more flexible to perform manipulation tasks. The manipulator we are working on is called OctArm, which has three sections and  we modeled each section of the manipulator as a bent and extendable cylinder. 

Tools: C++, OPENGL (an open sourced C++ library for building 3D simulation environment)
Video 1: Grasping configuration determination, we can automatically generate a force-closure grasp for the manipulator given an object.

Video 2: The manipulator progressively "snakes" into a cluttered environment and generates a force-closure grasping configuration for a target object (a teapot).

Video 3: The robot performs a compliant motion along the surface and edges of the object to reduce the uncertainties of the object pose, and then perform a grasping. We used the particle filtering method to utilize the contact information between the robot and object and getting better and better estimation of the pose of the object.

Video 4: Collision detection algorithm for continuum manipulator, the manipulator can automatically avoid the obstacle (a tea pot) in the 3D environment.

Autonomous inspection by using a continuum manipulator

Description: This project is supported by Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). We designed autonomous manipulation algorithms for the continuum robots to perform an inspection task in cluttered environments and hopefully this algorithm could be useful for Non-Destructive Examination (NDE) in cluttered pipe environment of power plants.

List of publications

  • Jinglin Li and Jing Xiao, "A General Formulation and Approach to Constrained, Continuum Manipulation", to appear in Special Issue on Continuum Robots and Manipulation, Advanced Robotics, July 2015.
  • Jinglin Li and Jing Xiao, "An Efficient Algorithm for Real Time Collision Detection Involving a Continuum Manipulator with Multiple Uniform-curvature Sections," Robotica, Cambridge University Press, UK, Oct. 2014.
  • Jinglin Li and Jing Xiao, "Task-constrained Continuum Manipulation in Cluttered Space," IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Hong Kong, China, May. 2014.
  • Jinglin Li, Zhou Teng, Jing Xiao, Apoorva Kapadia, Alan Bartow and Ian Walker,  "Autonomous Continuum Grasping," IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 2013.
  • Jinglin Li and Jing Xiao, "Progressive, Continuum Grasping in Cluttered Space,"  IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 2013.
  • Jinglin Li and Jing Xiao, "Progressive Generation of a Force-Closure Grasping for an n-section Continuum Manipulator,"  IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Karlsruhe, Germany, May 2013.
  • Jinglin Li and Jing Xiao, "Exact and Efficient Collision Detection for a Multi-Section Continuum Manipulator", IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Saint Paul, Minnesota, May 2012.
  • Jinglin Li and Jing Xiao, "Determining Grasping Configurations for a Spatial Continuum Manipulator,"  IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, San Francisco, California, Oct. 2011.

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