Latest Trends of Autonomous Aerial and Terrestrial Vehicles for Service Robotics Applications

A special issue of Machines (ISSN 2075-1702). This special issue belongs to the section "Robotics, Mechatronics and Intelligent Machines".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2021) | Viewed by 27067

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Aerospaziale, Politecnico di Torino, 10129 Torino, Italy
Interests: robotics; mechatronics; dynamics of vehicles and mechanical systems; industrial automation and fluid automation; applied mechanics; synthesis of mechanisms; mechatronic systems for disabled; appropriate technologies and human development (systems and devices for construction, agriculture, and transport); energy saving and recovery systems

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Aerospaziale, Politecnico di Torino, 10129 Torino, Italy
Interests: synthesis and design of mechanisms (parallel kinematics robots, mobile robots or automatic machines); robots control; multibody systems dynamics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, autonomous vehicles and mobile robots have been widely applied in several fields of everyday life: implementation in manufacturing processes, domestic assistance, warehouses logistics, precision agriculture, surveillance, remote presence, and much more.

The last global emergency related to COVID-19 emphasized how mobile autonomous robots can be extremely important in order to provide both adequate services to the patient and to reduce the risks for health workers.  

This increased interest drove the research community to deeply investigate several aspects that directly affect the realization of robotic systems and increase their efficiency, safety, and accessibility to a growing set of possible users.

For this Special Issue, we are looking for high quality, original research papers on the latest trends in autonomous aerial, terrestrial, or aquatic vehicles applied to the field of service robotics. The goal is a snapshot of the current research on novel mechanical structures and control strategies.

Papers are welcome on topics related to aspects of theory, design, practice, and application, including but not limited to:

  • Mechanical design of novel service aerial and terrestrial vehicles;
  • Novel applications and research frontiers;
  • Low level control strategies for safe human–robot coexistence
  • Robots fleets: communication protocols and industrial applications.;
  • Surveillance, patrolling, and rescue: robotics in extreme environments for human safety;
  • Mobile robotics for wellbeing, rehabilitation, and bio-medical applications;
  • Service robots for healthcare in dangerous conditions, like ones occurred in case of COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Simulation and modelling of mobile robots; and
  • Human–robot collaboration in non-productive environments.

Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Quaglia
Dr. Luca Carbonari
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Machines is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • mobile service robots
  • healthcare
  • COVID-19
  • rescue robots
  • monitoring
  • precision agriculture

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 4143 KiB  
Article
On the Suspension Design of Paquitop, a Novel Service Robot for Home Assistance Applications
by Luigi Tagliavini, Andrea Botta, Paride Cavallone, Luca Carbonari and Giuseppe Quaglia
Machines 2021, 9(3), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines9030052 - 2 Mar 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3299
Abstract
The general and constant ageing of the world population that has been observed in the last decade has led robotics researchers community to focus its aims to answer the ever-growing demand for health care, housing, care-giving, and social security. Among others, the researchers [...] Read more.
The general and constant ageing of the world population that has been observed in the last decade has led robotics researchers community to focus its aims to answer the ever-growing demand for health care, housing, care-giving, and social security. Among others, the researchers at Politecnico di Torino are developing a novel platform to enhance the performance offered by present-day issues, and to assess many others which were not even taken into consideration before they have been highlighted by the pandemic emergency currently in progress. This situation, in fact, made dramatically clear how important it is to have reliable non-human operators whom one can trust when the life of elderly or weak patients is endangered by the simple presence of other people. The platform, named Paquitop, features an innovative architecture conceived for omni-directional planar motion. The machine is designed for domestic, unstructured, and variously populated environments. Therefore, the mobile robot should be able to avoid or pass over small obstacles, passing through the capability to achieve specific person tracking tasks, and arriving to the need of operating with an high dynamic performance. Given its purpose, this work addresses the design of the suspension system which enables the platform to ensure a steady floor contact and adequate stability in every using condition. Different configurations of such system are then presented and compared through use-case simulations. Full article
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11 pages, 3557 KiB  
Article
Functional Design of a Hybrid Leg-Wheel-Track Ground Mobile Robot
by Luca Bruzzone, Mario Baggetta, Shahab E. Nodehi, Pietro Bilancia and Pietro Fanghella
Machines 2021, 9(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines9010010 - 12 Jan 2021
Cited by 40 | Viewed by 7740
Abstract
This paper presents the conceptual and functional design of a novel hybrid leg-wheel-track ground mobile robot for surveillance and inspection, named WheTLHLoc (Wheel-Track-Leg Hybrid Locomotion). The aim of the work is the development of a general-purpose platform capable of combining tracked locomotion on [...] Read more.
This paper presents the conceptual and functional design of a novel hybrid leg-wheel-track ground mobile robot for surveillance and inspection, named WheTLHLoc (Wheel-Track-Leg Hybrid Locomotion). The aim of the work is the development of a general-purpose platform capable of combining tracked locomotion on irregular and yielding terrains, wheeled locomotion with high energy efficiency on flat and compact grounds, and stair climbing/descent ability. The architecture of the hybrid locomotion system is firstly outlined, then the validation of its stair climbing maneuver capabilities by means of multibody simulation is presented. The embodiment design and the internal mechanical layout are then discussed. Full article
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16 pages, 6174 KiB  
Article
Design, Simulation, and Preliminary Validation of a Four-Legged Robot
by Stefano Rodinò, Elio Matteo Curcio, Antonio di Bella, Mattia Persampieri, Michele Funaro and Giuseppe Carbone
Machines 2020, 8(4), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines8040082 - 4 Dec 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4578
Abstract
This paper outlines the design process for achieving a novel four-legged robot for exploration and rescue tasks. This application is also intended as an educational mean for masters’ students aiming at gaining skills in designing and operating a complex mechatronic system. The design [...] Read more.
This paper outlines the design process for achieving a novel four-legged robot for exploration and rescue tasks. This application is also intended as an educational mean for masters’ students aiming at gaining skills in designing and operating a complex mechatronic system. The design process starts with an analysis of the desired locomotion and definition of the main requirements and constraints. Then, the paper focuses on the key design challenges, including analytical/numerical modeling and simulations of kinematic and dynamic performances. Specific attention is addressed to the manufacturing of a proof-of-concept prototype, including mechanical and control hardware, as well as the development of the needed software for an autonomous operation. Preliminary tests were carried out, to validate the main features required by the final prototype, to prove its feasibility and user-friendliness, as well as the effectiveness of this complex mechatronic design task for successfully engaging students towards learning complex theoretical, numerical, and practical skills. Full article
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19 pages, 2122 KiB  
Article
A Cost-Effective Person-Following System for Assistive Unmanned Vehicles with Deep Learning at the Edge
by Anna Boschi, Francesco Salvetti, Vittorio Mazzia and Marcello Chiaberge
Machines 2020, 8(3), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines8030049 - 28 Aug 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4772
Abstract
The vital statistics of the last century highlight a sharp increment of the average age of the world population with a consequent growth of the number of older people. Service robotics applications have the potentiality to provide systems and tools to support the [...] Read more.
The vital statistics of the last century highlight a sharp increment of the average age of the world population with a consequent growth of the number of older people. Service robotics applications have the potentiality to provide systems and tools to support the autonomous and self-sufficient older adults in their houses in everyday life, thereby avoiding the task of monitoring them with third parties. In this context, we propose a cost-effective modular solution to detect and follow a person in an indoor, domestic environment. We exploited the latest advancements in deep learning optimization techniques, and we compared different neural network accelerators to provide a robust and flexible person-following system at the edge. Our proposed cost-effective and power-efficient solution is fully-integrable with pre-existing navigation stacks and creates the foundations for the development of fully-autonomous and self-contained service robotics applications. Full article
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16 pages, 11709 KiB  
Article
Local Motion Planner for Autonomous Navigation in Vineyards with a RGB-D Camera-Based Algorithm and Deep Learning Synergy
by Diego Aghi, Vittorio Mazzia and Marcello Chiaberge
Machines 2020, 8(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines8020027 - 25 May 2020
Cited by 44 | Viewed by 5531
Abstract
With the advent of agriculture 3.0 and 4.0, in view of efficient and sustainable use of resources, researchers are increasingly focusing on the development of innovative smart farming and precision agriculture technologies by introducing automation and robotics into the agricultural processes. Autonomous agricultural [...] Read more.
With the advent of agriculture 3.0 and 4.0, in view of efficient and sustainable use of resources, researchers are increasingly focusing on the development of innovative smart farming and precision agriculture technologies by introducing automation and robotics into the agricultural processes. Autonomous agricultural field machines have been gaining significant attention from farmers and industries to reduce costs, human workload, and required resources. Nevertheless, achieving sufficient autonomous navigation capabilities requires the simultaneous cooperation of different processes; localization, mapping, and path planning are just some of the steps that aim at providing to the machine the right set of skills to operate in semi-structured and unstructured environments. In this context, this study presents a low-cost, power-efficient local motion planner for autonomous navigation in vineyards based only on an RGB-D camera, low range hardware, and a dual layer control algorithm. The first algorithm makes use of the disparity map and its depth representation to generate a proportional control for the robotic platform. Concurrently, a second back-up algorithm, based on representations learning and resilient to illumination variations, can take control of the machine in case of a momentaneous failure of the first block generating high-level motion primitives. Moreover, due to the double nature of the system, after initial training of the deep learning model with an initial dataset, the strict synergy between the two algorithms opens the possibility of exploiting new automatically labeled data, coming from the field, to extend the existing model’s knowledge. The machine learning algorithm has been trained and tested, using transfer learning, with acquired images during different field surveys in the North region of Italy and then optimized for on-device inference with model pruning and quantization. Finally, the overall system has been validated with a customized robot platform in the appropriate environment. Full article
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