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Safe and soft robotic systems for supporting human life

We study human centered robot systems which are used near human or with touching human. Medical robots and human care robots are typical examples of such robot systems. For such robot system, human friendly and safe properties are strongly demanded. Aiming practical applications, we study basic ideas, mechanisms, theories, and control methods for the human centered robot systems.

Robotics supporting human activity

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Fig.1: Cleaning robot for glass window

1) Cleaning Robot for Glass Window
The window cleaning by human is costly and dangerous work. Thus we are developing a small size glass cleaning robot. Especially, we are now studying an accurate tracking control problem and developing a dirt sensor system to realize reliable cleaning task by the cleaning robot. (Fig.1)

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Fig.3: Floor cleaning robot enabling t
he guarantee of cleaning
for all the area of a room

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Fig.2: Building a map of a room
by moving around in the room

2) Floor Cleaning Robot
The floor cleaning robot should clean all of the room as soon as possible and is expected to guarantee the complete cleaning of the room. To realize such smart cleaning robot, we are studying a map building method and a control method for the floor cleaning robot. The Fig.2 shows the generated map while the robot is moving and the Fig.3 is the actual floor cleaning robot.

Medical and Human Care Robotics

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Fig.4: Real time simulation of
deformable objects for virtual reality
(flexible thin membrane)

3) Real time Simulation of Deformable Objects for Virtual Reality
Minimally invasive surgery such as laparoscopic surgery has become increasingly popular because it reduces physical damage and pain on patients. Such techniques however demand higher skills for surgeons, raising the need for effective training methods. In this study, we are developing new computation techniques for real time, interactive simulation of deformable objects, aiming at the application to virtual-reality-based surgery simulators. With the developed systems, users can interact with virtual objects in the computer, through tactile, haptic, and visual senses, by using haptic (force-feedback) devices and visual monitors. (Fig.4)

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Fig.5 Operation of a motored
wheel chair by an input
interface device using mouth part

4) An Input Interface by Mouth Part for Severely Disabled Person
Severely handicapped often uses respiratory pressure for an input device to control various instruments. The input device is typically ON/OFF type for the control of the equipments. Considering the application of motored wheelchair, the ON/OFF type interface is not desirable. The control of motored wheelchair needs preciseness and quickness for safe operation. A new input device using the remained function of mouth part such as respiratory pressure is proposed for such purpose. In this research, we examine the basic performances of human respiratory pressure regulation as an analogue input method. Then possibility of two-dimensional analogue input device is indicated. As a practical application, we control the motored wheelchair by using the new input interface device as shown in Fig.5.

Soft Robot and Flexible Mechanism

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Fig.6: Parallel wire robot enabling
6 degrees of freedom
(position and orientation) of
a suspended object

5) Parallel Wire Robot
We study a parallel wire mechanism where an end-effectors of the mechanism is suspended by multiple wires. The mechanism enables not only three-dimensional positioning but also three-dimensional orientating of the end-effectors, unlike typical wire suspension type mechanism such as an overhead crane. We especially study an incompletely restrained parallel wire mechanism, where three wires suspend one end-effecter (Fig.6). The position and orientation of the end-effecter are controlled by three trolleys' positions and three wires' length. We are proposing an anti-sway control method for the suspended object by this mechanism based on an inverse dynamics calculation for the mechanism.

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Fig.7: Tactile sensor system for
quantitatively evaluating
tactile properties of fabrics

6) Tactile Sensors for Quantitatively Evaluating Tactile Properties of Fabrics
Tactile properties of object surfaces that we feel through touching them are very difficult to describe in quantitative/objective measures. Even today, evaluation of such properties depends on either of expert skills or expensive precise measurement devices. Making such evaluation process simpler and more reliable will contribute the reduction of production costs and the sustainment of production qualities. In this research, we are developing tactile inspection systems (Fig.7) for inspection processes in the industry, especially of fabrics. Our main interest is to realize compact, low-cost, easy-to-use devices that can be used in hand-held or finger-mounted manners.

Systems Control Laboratory,
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Kyushu University
Professor Motoji Yamamoto
Associate Professor Ryo Kikuuwe
Assistant Professor Yasutaka Nakashima
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