Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ultra-fast bionic arm can catch objects on the fly

Date:
May 12, 2014
Source:
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Summary:
With its palm open, the robot is completely motionless. A split second later, it suddenly unwinds and catches all sorts of flying objects thrown in its direction -- a tennis racket, a ball, a bottle. This arm measures about 1.5 meters long and keeps an upright position. It has three joints and a sophisticated hand with four fingers. It is unique, as it has the ability to catch projectiles of various irregular shapes in less than five hundredths of a second.

A new robot developed by EPFL researchers is capable of reacting on the spot and grasping objects with complex shapes and trajectories in less than five-hundredths of a second.
Credit: Image courtesy of Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

With its palm open, the robot is completely motionless. A split second later, it suddenly unwinds and catches all sorts of flying objects thrown in its direction -a tennis racket, a ball, a bottle. This arm measures about 1.5 meters long and keeps an upright position. It has three joints and a sophisticated hand with four fingers. It was programmed at the Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory at EPFL (LASA) and designed to test robotic solutions for capturing moving objects. It is unique, as it has the ability to catch projectiles of various irregular shapes in less than five hundredths of a second.

Related Articles


The invention is described in an article published today by IEEE transactions on robotics.

"Increasingly present in our daily lives and used to perform various tasks, robots will be able to either catch or dodge complex objects in full-motion, said Aude Billard, head of LASA. Not only do we need machines able to react on the spot, but also to predict the moving object's dynamics and generate a movement in the opposite direction."

This robotic arm already has a very real potential application in space. It has been associated to the Clean- mE project carried out by the Swiss Space Center at EPFL, which aims to develop technologies for the recovery and disposal of space debris orbiting around Earth. Fitted on a satellite, the arm would have the task of catching flying debris, whose dynamics are only partially known. Hence, the robot will not be able to work out such dynamics with precision until in space, by observing the movement of the approaching objects.

Imitation

The ability to catch flying things requires the integration of several parameters and reacting to unforeseen events in record time. "Today's machines are often pre-programmed and cannot quickly assimilate data changes, added Aude Billard. Consequently, their only choice is to recalculate the trajectories, which requires too much time from them in situations in which every fraction of a second can be decisive."

To obtain the desired speed and adaptability, LASA researchers were inspired by the way humans themselves learn: by imitation and trial and error. This technique, called Programming by demonstration, does not give specific directions to the robot. Instead, it shows examples of possible trajectories to it. It consists in manually guiding the arm to the projected target and repeating this exercise several times.

The research was conducted with a ball, an empty bottle, a half full bottle, a hammer and a tennis racket. These five common objects were selected because they offer a varied range of situations in which the part of the object that the robot has to catch (the handle of the racket, for example) does not correspond to its center of gravity. The case of the bottle even offers an additional challenge since its center of gravity moves several times during its trajectory. When projected into the air, all these items will make even more complex movements, often involving several axes. As a result, when the moving objects are submitted to the robot's abilities, the outcomes turn out quite interesting.

In the first learning phase, objects are thrown several times in the robot's direction. Through a series of cameras located all around it, the robot creates a model for the objects' kinetics based on their trajectories, speeds and rotational movement. Scientists translate it into an equation which then allows the robot to position itself very quickly in the right direction whenever an object is thrown. During the few milliseconds of the approach, the machine refines and corrects the trajectory for a real-time and high precision capture. This efficiency is further enhanced by the development of controllers that couple and synchronize the movements of the hand and fingers.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M413lLWvrbI


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Seungsu Kim, Ashwini Shukla, Aude Billard. Catching Objects in Flight. IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2014.2316022

Cite This Page:

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Ultra-fast bionic arm can catch objects on the fly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140512101740.htm>.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. (2014, May 12). Ultra-fast bionic arm can catch objects on the fly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140512101740.htm
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Ultra-fast bionic arm can catch objects on the fly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140512101740.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) — The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — It has been a long, busy year for Net Neutrality. The stage is set for an expected landmark FCC decision sometime in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins