Researchers from the German Aerospace Agency (DLR) recently presented their robotics projects at the 2011 IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots in Bled, Slovenia. They brought along their new torque-controlled biped, as well as their old standby Rollin’ Justin. We begin, however, with a demonstration of their awesome hand-arm system. In this first video, you’ll see how the arm’s motions can be controlled with varying levels of stiffness.
This flexibility is the key to absorbing impacts, including those that would break more conventional systems. Compliance is especially desirable when a robot is working around people, because it prevents harm to both parties if they bump into one another. Without any compliance, the Fujitsu ENON had to be cordoned off to prevent injury to bystanders when it was displayed publicly, and Kawada Industries’ NEXTAGE manufacturing robot slows to a crawl whenever a person enters the workspace.
In this video, you can see Rollin’ Justin’s self-collision-avoidance in action. Rollin’ Justin knows the exact position of its limbs at all times, and actively prevents them from bashing into each other, or other areas of its body. This might not be an issue during normal operation, but helps when being man-handled by people.
Video (Rollin’ Justin’s self-collision-avoidance):
Here’s an interesting demonstration of a DLR arm literally feeling its way through an unknown motion path. As it collides with the guide rail, the robot creates a map that tells it where it can and can’t move. It can then retrace the path at high speed.
In a somewhat related demonstration, Rollin’ Justin uses its cameras to detect a curving line drawn on a piece of paper. It can then retrace the line with its hand (visual-servoing) – in this case, holding a toy car. As an added bonus, Justin was even programmed to make car noises as he plays – how’s that for attention to detail?
Video (Rollin’ Justin plays with a toy car):
Eventually, Justin could find work aboard space stations or satellites. They’ve developed a telepresence system that would allow a human operator on Earth to take control of the robot’s arms and hands. The operator wears a head-mounted display, which when coupled with head-tracking, allow him/her to look through the robot’s cameras.
Video (Justin telepresence):
The following videos show the DLR-Biped, which we first reported in August, 2010. The legs are torque-controlled, allowing the robot to sense and react to unexpected disturbances without falling over.
Video (DLR-Biped reacts to external disturbances):
Additionally the robot has a pair of cameras mounted on its body that are pointed at the floor, allowing it to perform some simple obstacle avoidance.
Video (DLR-Biped obstacle avoidance):
Finally, here you can see the robot descending some stairs.
Video (DLR-Biped descends stairs):
[videos by: SeongyongKoo @ YouTube]