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The contributions to this issue aim to provide robotics and, in general, the automatic control community with results of research and applications focused on the cost-effectiveness of automation systems.
Low Cost Automation or Cost Effective Automation promotes cost oriented reference architectures and development approaches that properly integrate human skill and technical solutions, includes decentralized process control strategies, addresses automation integrated with information processing, as well as automation of non-sophisticated and easily handled operations for production maintenance.
Low Cost Automation is not an oxymoron like military intelligence or jumbo shrimps. It opposes the rising cost of sophisticated automation and propagates the use of innovative and intelligent solutions at an affordable cost. The concept can be regarded as a collection of methodologies aiming at exploiting tolerance of imprecision or uncertainties to achieve tractability, robustness and, in the end, low cost solutions. Mathematically, elegant designs of automation systems are often not feasible because of neglecting real world problems, i.e. they are failure-prone and therefore often very expensive for their users.
Low Cost Automation does not mean basic or poor performance control. The design of automation systems considers their life cycle with respect to their costs. For example, machine vision, despite in some cases costly components, properly applied can reduce the overall cost. It is used to guide field robots, identifying and assembling parts, and to sort out agricultural products.
This paper considers human-centered and socially appropriate robots as well as automation systems within the context of their cost-effectiveness. Usually, the objection of system designers is that approaches for human-centered and socio-technical design result in systems that are more expensive than those made by traditional methods, and are therefore not truly affordable, in particular for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This widespread opinion is challenged in the paper by some arguments supporting the forecast that human-centered and socio-technical design will soon become justifiable in tangible (economic) as well as intangible benefits for all involved partners, including society at large.
This paper presents new low-cost systems for the automation of some fish farm operations. Particularly, computer vision is applied to non-contact fish weight estimation. Stereo vision systems with synchronised convergent cameras are employed to perform fish 3-D segmentation in tanks and sea cages. Several pre-processing algorithms are applied to compensate for illumination local variations. The approach applied for fish 3-D segmentation consists in detecting in both images certain fish features. Once these points have been detected and validated in both images, the fish are 3-D segmented by applying stereo vision matching considerations. Fish weight is estimated by using simple length-weight relations well known in the aquaculture domain. The paper also briefly describes robotics systems for fish feeding and underwater pond cleaning, which can be also used to implement the above mentioned computer vision techniques for the fish estimation.
This paper presents a methodology for image-to-space path planning of a SCARA manipulator with a single static color camera. The method proposes a two step algorithm for estimating object position on the image plane and then mapping into space to find required angular values of the manipulator joints. Tests were carried with a computational routine to estimate position on the image plane of a set of different fruits under natural light conditions. Finally the method was tested using a robotic arm and similarly structured objects. Hardware and software implementation of the present method is of low cost when compared to current commercial technology, and operational results are promising but dependent on environmental illumination control and camera calibration accuracy. The methodology is intended to be applied in the automatic classification of fruits.
Low cost automation often requires accurate positioning. This happens whenever a vehicle or robotic manipulator is used to move materials, parts or minerals on the factory floor or outdoors. In last few years, such vehicles and devices are mostly autonomous. This paper presents the method of sensor fusion based on the Adaptive Fuzzy Kalman Filtering. This method has been applied to fuse position signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Inertial Navigation System (INS) for the autonomous mobile vehicles. The presented method has been validated in 3-D environment and is of particular importance for guidance, navigation, and control of mobile, autonomous vehicles. The Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) and the noise characteristic have been modified using the Fuzzy Logic Adaptive System and compared with the performance of regular EKF. It has been demonstrated that the Fuzzy Adaptive Kalman Filter gives better results (more accurate) than the EKF. The presented method is suitable for real-time control and is relatively inexpensive. Also, it applies to fusion process with sensors different than INS or GPS.
This work deals with the real-time robot control implementation. In this paper, an algorithm for solving Inverse Dynamic Problem based on the Gibbs-Appell equations is proposed and verified. It is developed using mainly vectorial variables, and the equations are expressed in a recursive form, it has a computational complexity of O(n). This algorithm will be compared with one based on Newton-Euler equations of motion, formulated in a similar way, and using mainly vectors in their recursive formulation. This algorithm was implemented in an industrial PUMA robot. For the robot control a new and open architecture based on PC had been implemented. The architecture used has two main advantages. First it provides a total open control architecture, and second it is not expensive. Because the controller is based on PC, any control technique can be programmed and implemented, and in this way the PUMA can work on high level tasks, such as automatic trajectory generation, task planning, control by artificial vision, etc.
In this paper distributed architectures for autonomous vehicles are addressed, with a special emphasis on its real-time control requirements. The interconnection of the distributed intelligent subsystems is a key factor in the overall performance of the system. To better understand the interconnection requirements, the main techniques and modules of a global navigation system are described. A special focus on fieldbuses properties and major characteristics is made in order to point out some potentialities, which make them attractive in autonomous vehicles real-time applications, either in terms of reliability as in terms of real-time restrictions.
With the fast development of the control theory and engineering, robotics and artificial intelligence have become the focus in the field of intelligent systems. But research in this field is based on a series of experiments and requires various robot platforms which are often unaffordable by the universities in developing countries. The intention of this paper is to present the idea of applying innovative control education and building a laboratory using low cost equipments. In this paper the architecture and control system of a new kind of low cost intelligent robot, “Ability Storm”, is introduced. It not only shows the technical aspect, but also illustrates the related applications in control education. The versatility and effectiveness of this affordable intelligent robot platform are demonstrated through a number of experiments, including both basic laboratory experiments and other innovative project-oriented design, such as robot fire fighting, which clearly show the practicality and robustness of this cost-effective robot platform.
In this paper the use of inexpensive standard hardware and software is proposed in place of high-cost commercial solutions to set up real-time control experiments with a human in the control loop, including graphical and haptic virtual reality (VR). For this purpose a generic simulation environment for the implementation of control experiments using VR with haptic feedback and their evaluation, has been developed. As an example, setups of a car simulator with a human in the control loop and an inverted pendulum as an experiment for student laboratories are presented.
This paper presents a novel Cobotic system with differential CVT. The new system is significantly cheaper, simpler to control and more efficient than Cobots with S-CVTs. Both path-guidance and power-assist functions can be simply realized with the new system. Basic structures, kinematic and dynamic models, as well as control algorithms, which are essential for design, control synthesis and control of the system, are briefly presented in the paper.
In this paper, development and implementation are presented of a client software package for remote process control. The proposed software is based on a client-server model under an Intranet architecture. The architecture is proposed for a telecontrol system of a real process, which includes the possibility of integrating I/O devices with data networks based on open protocols such as TCP/IP. This protocol allows the implementation of control systems using a low-cost alternative. Also, the Smith predictor is revised for remote control applications over an Ethernet network. Some experiences on a laboratory pasteurization plant are addressed to show both developed controllers and architecture performance.
Quay cranes are particular transportation devices for which operation's safety and CRAMP parameters (Cost, Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Productivity) should be fulfilled with regard to a harbor maintenance strategy. The maintenance process is first considered within a holistic modeling framework in order to cope with the current practices of treating strategic, operational and engineering maintenance issues independently without taking into account their interactions within an entire Enterprise System. Proactive maintenance is then highlighted as a new model aiming to globally optimize the components operation parameters throughout three interacting prognosis, diagnosis and monitoring processes. Technical issues related to Intelligent Maintenance System are finally proposed in order to support proactive maintenance operations at the enterprise field level and applied to quay cranes in a particular site within the frame of the European Eureka ‘Robcrane' project.
Smart devices used in continuous system, benefit from the addition of microelectronics and software that runs inside the device to perform control and diagnostic functions. Very small components, such as inputs/outputs blocks and overload relays, are too small to integrate data processing for technical-economic reason. However, it's possible to develop embedded intelligence and control for the smallest factory floor devices. In the paper, a generic model of smart equipment with reconfiguration functions is proposed. The interest of this functional model is that it can be used for smart devices but it can also be developed in modules for the nearest possible of the inputs and outputs in manufacturing equipment. This solution is economic for a great number of applications because it allows one to realise modular design and to standardise part of system in order to re-use it.
A method is presented for generating the path that significantly reduces residual vibration of the redundant, flexible robot manipulator in the presence of obstacles. The desired path is optimally designed so that the system completes the required move with minimum residual vibration, avoiding obstacles. The dynamic model and optimal path are effectively formulated and computed by using a special moving coordinate, called VLCS, to represent the link flexibility. The path to be designed is developed by a combined Fourier series and polynomial function to satisfy both the convergence and boundary condition matching problems. The concept of correlation coefficients is used to select the minimum number of design variables. A planar three-link manipulator is used to evaluate this method. Results show that residual vibration can be drastically reduced by selecting an appropriate path, in the presence of obstacles.