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2015


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Automatic LQR Tuning Based on Gaussian Process Optimization: Early Experimental Results

Marco, A., Hennig, P., Bohg, J., Schaal, S., Trimpe, S.

Machine Learning in Planning and Control of Robot Motion Workshop at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (iROS), pages: , , Machine Learning in Planning and Control of Robot Motion Workshop, October 2015 (conference)

Abstract
This paper proposes an automatic controller tuning framework based on linear optimal control combined with Bayesian optimization. With this framework, an initial set of controller gains is automatically improved according to a pre-defined performance objective evaluated from experimental data. The underlying Bayesian optimization algorithm is Entropy Search, which represents the latent objective as a Gaussian process and constructs an explicit belief over the location of the objective minimum. This is used to maximize the information gain from each experimental evaluation. Thus, this framework shall yield improved controllers with fewer evaluations compared to alternative approaches. A seven-degree-of-freedom robot arm balancing an inverted pole is used as the experimental demonstrator. Preliminary results of a low-dimensional tuning problem highlight the method’s potential for automatic controller tuning on robotic platforms.

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2015


PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Compliant wing design for a flapping wing micro air vehicle

Colmenares, D., Kania, R., Zhang, W., Sitti, M.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 32-39, September 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this work, we examine several wing designs for a motor-driven, flapping-wing micro air vehicle capable of liftoff. The full system consists of two wings independently driven by geared pager motors that include a spring in parallel with the output shaft. The linear transmission allows for resonant operation, while control is achieved by direct drive of the wing angle. Wings used in previous work were chosen to be fully rigid for simplicity of modeling and fabrication. However, biological wings are highly flexible and other micro air vehicles have successfully utilized flexible wing structures for specialized tasks. The goal of our study is to determine if wing flexibility can be generally used to increase wing performance. Two approaches to lift improvement using flexible wings are explored, resonance of the wing cantilever structure and dynamic wing twisting. We design and test several wings that are compared using different figures of merit. A twisted design improved lift per power by 73.6% and maximum lift production by 53.2% compared to the original rigid design. Wing twist is then modeled in order to propose optimal wing twist profiles that can maximize either wing efficiency or lift production.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Millimeter-scale magnetic swimmers using elastomeric undulations

Zhang, J., Diller, E.

In 2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pages: 1706-1711, September 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper presents a new soft-bodied millimeterscale swimmer actuated by rotating uniform magnetic fields. The proposed swimmer moves through internal undulatory deformations, resulting from a magnetization profile programmed into its body. To understand the motion of the swimmer, a mathematical model is developed to describe the general relationship between the deflection of a flexible strip and its magnetization profile. As a special case, the situation of the swimmer on the water surface is analyzed and predictions made by the model are experimentally verified. Experimental results show the controllability of the proposed swimmer under a computer vision-based closed-loop controller. The swimmers have nominal dimensions of 1.5×4.9×0.06 mm and a top speed of 50 mm/s (10 body lengths per second). Waypoint following and multiagent control are demonstrated for swimmers constrained at the air-water interface and underwater swimming is also shown, suggesting the promising potential of this type of swimmer in biomedical and microfluidic applications.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Thumb xl screen shot 2015 08 22 at 21.47.37
Direct Loss Minimization Inverse Optimal Control

Doerr, A., Ratliff, N., Bohg, J., Toussaint, M., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems, Rome, Italy, Robotics: Science and Systems XI, July 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Inverse Optimal Control (IOC) has strongly impacted the systems engineering process, enabling automated planner tuning through straightforward and intuitive demonstration. The most successful and established applications, though, have been in lower dimensional problems such as navigation planning where exact optimal planning or control is feasible. In higher dimensional systems, such as humanoid robots, research has made substantial progress toward generalizing the ideas to model free or locally optimal settings, but these systems are complicated to the point where demonstration itself can be difficult. Typically, real-world applications are restricted to at best noisy or even partial or incomplete demonstrations that prove cumbersome in existing frameworks. This work derives a very flexible method of IOC based on a form of Structured Prediction known as Direct Loss Minimization. The resulting algorithm is essentially Policy Search on a reward function that rewards similarity to demonstrated behavior (using Covariance Matrix Adaptation (CMA) in our experiments). Our framework blurs the distinction between IOC, other forms of Imitation Learning, and Reinforcement Learning, enabling us to derive simple, versatile, and practical algorithms that blend imitation and reinforcement signals into a unified framework. Our experiments analyze various aspects of its performance and demonstrate its efficacy on conveying preferences for motion shaping and combined reach and grasp quality optimization.

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PDF Video Project Page [BibTex]

PDF Video Project Page [BibTex]


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LMI-Based Synthesis for Distributed Event-Based State Estimation

Muehlebach, M., Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the American Control Conference, July 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper presents an LMI-based synthesis procedure for distributed event-based state estimation. Multiple agents observe and control a dynamic process by sporadically exchanging data over a broadcast network according to an event-based protocol. In previous work [1], the synthesis of event-based state estimators is based on a centralized design. In that case three different types of communication are required: event-based communication of measurements, periodic reset of all estimates to their joint average, and communication of inputs. The proposed synthesis problem eliminates the communication of inputs as well as the periodic resets (under favorable circumstances) by accounting explicitly for the distributed structure of the control system.

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Guaranteed H2 Performance in Distributed Event-Based State Estimation

Muehlebach, M., Trimpe, S.

In Proceeding of the First International Conference on Event-based Control, Communication, and Signal Processing, June 2015 (inproceedings)

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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On the Choice of the Event Trigger in Event-based Estimation

Trimpe, S., Campi, M.

In Proceeding of the First International Conference on Event-based Control, Communication, and Signal Processing, June 2015 (inproceedings)

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Fiberbot: A miniature crawling robot using a directional fibrillar pad

Han, Y., Marvi, H., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2015 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 3122-3127, May 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Vibration-driven locomotion has been widely used for crawling robot studies. Such robots usually have a vibration motor as the actuator and a fibrillar structure for providing directional friction on the substrate. However, there has not been any studies about the effect of fiber structure on robot crawling performance. In this paper, we develop Fiberbot, a custom made mini vibration robot, for studying the effect of fiber angle on robot velocity, steering, and climbing performance. It is known that the friction force with and against fibers depends on the fiber angle. Thus, we first present a new fabrication method for making millimeter scale fibers at a wide range of angles. We then show that using 30° angle fibers that have the highest friction anisotropy (ratio of backward to forward friction force) among the other fibers we fabricated in this study, Fiberbot speed on glass increases to 13.8±0.4 cm/s (compared to ν = 0.6±0.1 cm/s using vertical fibers). We also demonstrate that the locomotion direction of Fiberbot depends on the tilting direction of fibers and we can steer the robot by rotating the fiber pad. Fiberbot could also climb on glass at inclinations of up to 10° when equipped with fibers of high friction anisotropy. We show that adding a rigid tail to the robot it can climb on glass at 25° inclines. Moreover, the robot is able to crawl on rough surfaces such as wood (ν = 10.0±0.2 cm/s using 30° fiber pad). Fiberbot, a low-cost vibration robot equipped with a custom-designed fiber pad with steering and climbing capabilities could be used for studies on collective behavior on a wide range of topographies as well as search and exploratory missions.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Platform design and tethered flight of a motor-driven flapping-wing system

Hines, L., Colmenares, D., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2015 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 5838-5845, May 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this work, we examine two design modifications to a tethered motor-driven flapping-wing system. Previously, we had demonstrated a simple mechanism utilizing a linear transmission for resonant operation and direct drive of the wing flapping angle for control. The initial two-wing system had a weight of 2.7 grams and a maximum lift-to-weight ratio of 1.4. While capable of vertical takeoff, in open-loop flight it demonstrated instability and pitch oscillations at the wing flapping frequency, leading to flight times of only a few wing strokes. Here the effect of vertical wing offset as well as an alternative multi-wing layout is investigated and experimentally tested with newly constructed prototypes. With only a change in vertical wing offset, stable open-loop flight of the two-wing flapping system is shown to be theoretically possible, but difficult to achieve with our current design and operating parameters. Both of the new two and four-wing systems, however, prove capable of flying to the end of the tether, with the four-wing system prototype eliminating disruptive wing beat oscillations.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Event-based Estimation and Control for Remote Robot Operation with Reduced Communication

Trimpe, S., Buchli, J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
An event-based communication framework for remote operation of a robot via a bandwidth-limited network is proposed. The robot sends state and environment estimation data to the operator, and the operator transmits updated control commands or policies to the robot. Event-based communication protocols are designed to ensure that data is transmitted only when required: the robot sends new estimation data only if this yields a significant information gain at the operator, and the operator transmits an updated control policy only if this comes with a significant improvement in control performance. The developed framework is modular and can be used with any standard estimation and control algorithms. Simulation results of a robotic arm highlight its potential for an efficient use of limited communication resources, for example, in disaster response scenarios such as the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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A New Perspective and Extension of the Gaussian Filter

Wüthrich, M., Trimpe, S., Kappler, D., Schaal, S.

In Robotics: Science and Systems, 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The Gaussian Filter (GF) is one of the most widely used filtering algorithms; instances are the Extended Kalman Filter, the Unscented Kalman Filter and the Divided Difference Filter. GFs represent the belief of the current state by a Gaussian with the mean being an affine function of the measurement. We show that this representation can be too restrictive to accurately capture the dependencies in systems with nonlinear observation models, and we investigate how the GF can be generalized to alleviate this problem. To this end we view the GF from a variational-inference perspective, and analyze how restrictions on the form of the belief can be relaxed while maintaining simplicity and efficiency. This analysis provides a basis for generalizations of the GF. We propose one such generalization which coincides with a GF using a virtual measurement, obtained by applying a nonlinear function to the actual measurement. Numerical experiments show that the proposed Feature Gaussian Filter (FGF) can have a substantial performance advantage over the standard GF for systems with nonlinear observation models.

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Web PDF Project Page [BibTex]

2008


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Simulation and analysis of a passive pitch reversal flapping wing mechanism for an aerial robotic platform

Arabagi, V., Sitti, M.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2008. IROS 2008. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 1260-1265, 2008 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

2008


Project Page [BibTex]


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Fabrication and Characterization of Biologically Inspired Mushroom-Shaped Elastomer Microfiber Arrays

Kim, S., Sitti, M.

In ASME 2008 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, pages: 839-847, 2008 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Gecko inspired micro-fibrillar adhesives for wall climbing robots on micro/nanoscale rough surfaces

Aksak, B., Murphy, M. P., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation, 2008. ICRA 2008. IEEE International Conference on, pages: 3058-3063, 2008 (inproceedings)

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Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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Miniature Mobile Robots Down to Micron Scale

Sitti, M.

In Micro-NanoMechatronics and Human Science, 2008. MHS 2008. International Symposium on, pages: 525-525, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Polymeric Micro/Nanofiber Manufacturing and Mechanical Characterization

Nain, A. S., Sitti, M., Amon, C.

In ASME 2008 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, pages: 295-303, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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An untethered magnetically actuated micro-robot capable of motion on arbitrary surfaces

Floyd, S., Pawashe, C., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation, 2008. ICRA 2008. IEEE International Conference on, pages: 419-424, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Fabrication of bio-inspired elastomer nanofiber arrays with spatulate tips using notching effect

Kim, S., Sitti, M., Jang, J., Thomas, E. L.

In Nanotechnology, 2008. NANO’08. 8th IEEE Conference on, pages: 780-782, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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A motorized anchoring mechanism for a tethered capsule robot using fibrillar adhesives for interventions in the esophagus

Glass, P., Cheung, E., Wang, H., Appasamy, R., Sitti, M.

In Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics, 2008. BioRob 2008. 2nd IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference on, pages: 758-764, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Fabrication of Single and Multi-Layer Fibrous Biomaterial Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering

Nain, A. S., Miller, E., Sitti, M., Campbell, P., Amon, C.

In ASME 2008 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, pages: 231-238, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Performance of different foot designs for a water running robot

Floyd, S., Adilak, S., Ramirez, S., Rogman, R., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation, 2008. ICRA 2008. IEEE International Conference on, pages: 244-250, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Dynamic modeling of a basilisk lizard inspired quadruped robot running on water

Park, H. S., Floyd, S., Sitti, M.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2008. IROS 2008. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 3101-3107, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Bacterial propulsion of chemically patterned micro-cylinders

Behkam, B., Sitti, M.

In Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics, 2008. BioRob 2008. 2nd IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference on, pages: 753-757, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Design and Numerical Modeling of an On-Board Chemical Release Module for Motion Control of Bacteria-Propelled Swimming Micro-Robots

Behkam, B., Nain, A. S., Amon, C. H., Sitti, M.

In ASME 2008 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, pages: 239-244, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Investigation of Calcium Mechanotransduction by Quasi 3-D Microfiber Mechanical Stimulation of Cells

Ruder, W. C., Pratt, E. D., Sitti, M., LeDuc, P. R., Antaki, J. F.

In ASME 2008 Summer Bioengineering Conference, pages: 1049-1050, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Beanbag robotics: Robotic swarms with 1-dof units

Kriesel, D. M., Cheung, E., Sitti, M., Lipson, H.

In International Conference on Ant Colony Optimization and Swarm Intelligence, pages: 267-274, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Particle image velocimetry and thrust of flagellar micro propulsion systems

Danis, U., Sitti, M., Pekkan, K.

In APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting Abstracts, 1, 2008 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]