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This is a part of the project for develop- successful in the practical task of high-level smooth motion functions, ing the “Total System of Advanced inspection. These are probably the only fire and human detecting capabilities, Subsea Robot,” which is a part of the practically working underwater walking and communication channels to the large-scale research and development robots in the world.

base computer system. The leader of (R&D) project titled “Advanced Robot

this research group is Technology for the Hazardous Envi- Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. ronment,” supported by the Ministry

Teijiro Kajiwara of International Trade and Industry I saw

Technical Research Laboratory (MITI). The objective of the Subsea

Sogo Security Service Co., Ltd. Robot project is to construct a robot Dr. Norimasa Kishi

2-14 Ishijima that can guide itself, keeping its posi

Scientific Research Laboratory Koto-ku, Tokyo 135, Japan tion and reference path in the presence Central Engineering Laboratories Tel: +81-3-5606-7541 of tidal current disturbance, and can do Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

Fax: +81-3-5606-7546 nondestructive testing and cleaning of 1 Natsushima-cho man-made structures like oil rigs. At Yokosuka 237, Japan

Because of the difficulty in finding young least the hardware development por

Tel: +81-468-62-5172

workers for their tasks, the top admintions were successfully concluded in Fax: +81-468-65-4183

istration is considering introducing the March 1991. This was a big national E-mail: use of autonomous robots at least to project and its component tasks were

assist human guards in some places. executed by numerous manufacturers at his laboratory. Currently, their main Problems at this moment are low including Komatsu. Also, Komatsu is concern is man-machine interface in behavioral stability and limited error developing and testing radio-controlled car driving. However, as one of their recovery capabilities. bulldozers, which will be upgraded to research activities, they have developed unmanned bulldozers. Electronics is an autonomously controlled vehicle, eagerly introduced in their construc- Personal Vehicle System (PVS). This tion machinery.

is equipped with sonar and TV cameras

for external sensors. It is able to move Port and Harbor

smoothly along white lines (camera Research Institute

mode) or along guard rails (ultrasonic

mode), avoiding obstacles on straight I am starting a joint research proj. pathways, and is able to make turns at ect, "Simulation and Control of Under- intersections. In the camera mode, the water Walking Robots," with this vehicle can travel at 60 km/h at straight national institute. My partner is path portions. Although the boundary

conditions for the vehicle might be a Hidetoshi Takahashi, Chief little simpler than the ones for the Robotics Laboratory

experiments conducted in the Nav Lab Port and Harbor Research Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, the Ministry of Transport

results by Nissan are also impressive in 3-1-1 Nagase

this state of the art. Yokosuka 239, Japan Tel: +81-468-44-5042

Sogo Security Service Co., Ltd. Fax: +81-468-42-9265

This company has been developing This institute has three underwater intelligent autonomous mobile robots walking robots named "Aquarobos” for security guard services (see Figure 2), that were developed for inspecting the although it may still be a few years depth and evenness of underwater man- before they really introduce autono- Figure 2. Security Guard robot made rock beds. Each of them have six mous vehicles in their main tasks. Their

(courtesy of Sogo legs with three degrees-of-freedom each. autonomous robot has a map of indoor

Security Service Co., Ltd.). At least one Aquarobo is perfectly environment, a path planning ability,

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IBM Japan, Tokyo

Tokyo University, Department currently designing and constructing Research Laboratory of Mechanical Engineering SHINKAI 11000, which will reach to

the deepest sea bottom in the world. I visited Mr. Shigeki Ishikawa at his

I met

Dr. Hattori's group has been constructlaboratory in downtown Tokyo to watch

ing and testing a flying saucer type his mobile robot, which is controlled Prof. Hirochika Inoue

autonomous underwater vehicle with by fuzzy rules (see Figure 3). The robot's Dept of Mechanical Engineering six degrees-of-freedom (see Figure 4). hardware system was well designed and University of Tokyo

The objective of the current project is packaged nicely. It followed a refer- 7-3-1 Hongo

to hover at a specified point using a ence path and, in the presence ofobsta- Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan light source that is placed on the sea cles, avoids them without failure. Tel: +81-3-3812-2111

bottom. A fuzzy control method is being However, its behavior seemed to con- Fax: +81-3-815-8356

used in this motion control problem. tain some unnecessary time-consuming E-mail: The saucer shape seems to make the motions compared with the behavior

hovering control mission easier as of other vehicles that are controlled by in his laboratory to discuss his multiple opposed to the conventional torpedoconventional analytical methods. In my mobile robots. He has been construct shaped underwater vehicles. opinion, the precision of the vehicle's ing four identical mobile robots to carry motion is not good, either. (Since the out tasks in a cooperative manner. An author is adopting conventional geom- example of the tasks is to carry an object etry and control theory for controlling with more than one robot to a destinahis own vehicle, his opinions might not tion. Although the robots seem to be be objective.)

still in the system development stage
and they look like toys, his imagination
and originality might lead this project
to a new frontier. He is conducting
numerous other experimental autono-
mous robot projects including image
understanding ones.


Japan Marine Science and
Technology Center (JAMSTEC)

This is one of the most advanced Figure 4. Autonomous underwater research centers in marine science. I

vehicle (courtesy of was interested in its underwater vehi

cle project and saw

Dr. Mutsuo Hattori
Deep Sea Technology Dept

Let me mention two researchers who
Japan Marine Science

are active in autonomous robotics and Technology Center

research, although my schedule did not 2-15 Natsushima-cho

permit me to visit their laboratories on
Yokosuka 237, Japan
Tel: +81-468-66-3811
Fax: +81-468-66-0970

Prof. Shigeo Hirose

Dept of Mechanical Physics JAMSTEC is well known for its manned Tokyo Institute of Technology research submersibles SHINKAI 2000 2-12-1 Ookayama and SHINKAI 6500, which are able to Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152, Japan dive to the depth of 2,000 and Tel: +81-3-3726-1111 6,500 meters, respectively. JAMSTEC

this trip.

Figure 3. Mr. IB robot (courtesy of

IBM, Japan).


is well known for his animal-type mobile robots. For instance, he has constructed Yutaka Kanayama received his B.S., quadruped walking robots that are able M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical to climb staircases using tactile and/or engineering from the University of image sensors. He has investigated a Tokyo, Japan, in 1960, 1962, and 1965, deep theory in gait control of walking respectively. He was a Professor in robots. He has also constructed snake- Computer Science at the University type, wall-climbing, and ceiling-walking of Tsukuba from 1977-1984, where robots. Each of these mobile robots is he worked in the field of theoretical the result of his incredible mechanical computer science, artificial intellidesign abilities.

gence, and robotics. Since then he

has been developing a family of autonProf. Tamaki Ura

omous mobile robots, "Yamabicos." Institute of Industrial Science He was with the Artificial IntelliUniversity of Tokyo

gence Laboratory, Department of 7-22-1 Roppongi

Computer Science, Stanford UniverMinato-ku, Tokyo 106, Japan sity, from 1984-1986, where he joined Tel: +81-3-3402-6231 X2280 the ALV research project. From 1986 Fax: +81-3-3402-5078

1989 Prof. Kanayama directed the

mobile robot project as Adjunct has been developing the autonomous Professor in the Center for Robotic underwater vehicle PTEROA. Systems in Microclectronics and in PTEROA is able to dive to a depth of the Department of Computer Sci2,000 meters and cruise for 1 hour. It ence at the University of California saves energy loss by adopting an “under- at Santa Barbara. In 1989 he joined water glider” type cruising mode. It the Department of Computer Scidives using its own weight and, after it ence at the Naval Postgraduate School reaches to the deepest point, it discon- (NPS) in Monterey, California, as a nects its ballast to swim up to the sea professor. His current interests cover surface. Ura is currently designing and a wide spectrum from spatial reasonconstructing a functionally more power- ing theories to implementation of ful version of PTEROA.

mobile vehicle systems. Prof. Kanayama is a member of the NPS Autonomous Underwater Vehicle project and is a principal investigator of the international joint project on the Autonomous Underwater Walking Robot with the Port and Harbor Research Institute in Japan.

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