Bridging Together Compliant and Continuum Robots

Exploit control principles employed in flexible-joint and compliant robots to develop a more rigorous basis for the control of continuum soft systems
Description of the Project: 

Research Background of the Project: Soft manipulators have recently gained significant recognition for their versatility and advantages over rigid-link systems. Their multi-DOF bending capabilities and their intrinsic compliance make them a viable technology for complex tasks where an enhanced degree of flexibility is required as well as locomotion tools for bioinspired robots. However, the complexity of these continuum actuators makes them hard to control and, consequently, less suited for everyday use in industrial, medical or other robotics applications. A more rigorous and well-established approach in control comes from the study of compliant or flexible systems, where thoroughly validated techniques have been used in the frame of robotics systems with discrete elastic components.

Project Description: Since the development of the first soft continuum manipulators a broad range of modelling tools have been developed  Some of the most widespread of these tools are either FEM or geometry-based. However, given the complexity of the underlying kinematics and dynamics of these systems, the problem of accurate control remains unsolved. This project aims to reconcile the model based approach for modelling and control design as well as the model free approach using machine learning  employed in the frame of flexible robots (e.g. Elastic Structure Preserving Control) with those being developed for continuum soft robots. The purpose of this work is to provide a more rigorous theoretical basis for the control of continuum soft manipulators.

Third supervisor is Dr Federico Renda, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, United Arab Emirates


Resources required: 
The work will mainly entail modelling/control with validation and proof of concept in simulation-based environment. For the hardware implementation the student will be encouraged to utilise the newly established robotics facilities and laboratories of the Khalifa University under the supervision of Dr. Renda and his collaborators.
Project number: 
First Supervisor: 
University of Edinburgh
First supervisor university: 
University of Edinburgh
Essential skills and knowledge: 
Dynamics, Control
Desirable skills and knowledge: 
Some background in elastodynamics, flexible robots and soft robotics would be advantageous
Funding Available: 

1) F. Renda, F. Boyer, J. Dias and L. Seneviratne, "Discrete Cosserat Approach for Multisection Soft Manipulator Dynamics," in IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 1518-1533, Dec. 2018.

2) D. Lakatos, W. Friedl, A. Albu-Schäffer, 2017, Eigenmodes of nonlinear dynamics: Definition, existence, and embodiment into legged robots with elastic elements, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters 2 (2), 1062-1069.

3) O Goury, C Duriez, 2018, Fast, Generic, and Reliable Control and Simulation of Soft Robots Using Model Order Reduction, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 1-12.

4) M Keppler, D Lakatos, C Ott, A Albu-Schäffer, 2018, Elastic Structure Preserving (ESP) Control for Compliantly Actuated Robots, IEEE Transactions on Robotics 34 (2), 317-335.