In this paper, we propose a method to fabricate a slim continuum manipulator by embedding pulling-wire mechanisms into a thin rubber layer formed around an elastic backbone of the manipulator without increasing its elasticity largely. Fundamental experimental results show that the continuum manipulator prototype based on the proposed method can achieve, not only bending on several planes on three-dimensional space by pulling its three wires appropriately, but also a 360-degree bending of its tip in some direction with forming non-constant curvature shape. It is also shown that a simple mathematical model can explain the linear relationship between the tip bending angle and the wire pulling distance which is verified experimentally.
To unravel planets' histories and discover new resources, researchers have undertaken various planetary investigations. In particular, subsurface investigations will play an important role in both elucidating the origins of extraterrestrial bodies and developing planetary workstations. To put these investigations into practice, we have been developing a lunar subsurface excavation robot using peristaltic crawling based on an earthworm's locomotion. This robot comprises three units: a propulsion unit, an excavation unit, and a discharging unit. In our previous research, we demonstrated the potential of this robot with the propulsion and excavation units. In this paper, we first show the excavation performance of the robot with three units for propulsion, excavation, and discharging. Result of this excavation elucidates the problem that the soil dropping from the discharging unit interrupts the robot's excavation. To overcome this problem, we propose a “soil-circulating system”. Moreover, we conduct verification experiments for realization of the system. Finally, we conduct an excavation experiment with the robot, which incorporates the system. The experimental results validate the proposed system.
This paper proposes a functional recovery training device for hemiplegic knee flexion based on the Repetitive Facilitation Exercises, which can realize plasticity of the brain by a special procedure. Based on the Repetitive Facilitation Exercises, a muscle-rapidly-extended facilitating stimulus is proposed to induce knee flexion stretch reflex and cause voluntary knee flexion. Then a power assist control is given to help the voluntary movement and a mechanism is devised to realize the knee rehabilitation. Furthermore, facilitation assistant stimuli such as vibration stimulation, electrical stimulation, visual and hearing stimulation are proposed to improve the training effect. The performance and effectiveness of the device are shown by some results from able-bodied and hemiplegic subjects.
We have developed “Terapio”, a next-generation robot that replaces the conventional medical cart used by healthcare staff during their rounds at the medical front. Terapio assists medical staff in delivering resources and recording round information with its robotic control abilities. An omnidirectional mobile mechanism and a human tracking control system to follow a specified medical professional realize smooth transfer movement from a nurses station to wards. Data on rounds is automatically recorded by a CCD camera and a voice recorder. When the robot is connected via a cable to a medical data server, the robot transmits patients' data to the server and receives new patients' information. The use of robots to support medical care allows humans to concentrate on those tasks requiring knowledge, skill, and experience, is then expected to contribute to the enhancement of the quality of healthcare services.
Motion planning for non-grasp manipulation is a typical kinodynamic problem which is required to solve both kinematic and dynamic constraint. So far, realized non-grasp manipulation is limited due to the difficulty of kinodynamic constrained condition. This paper proposes a non-grasp manipulation method considering only kinematic constraint and realize dynamical manipulation which is hitherto unrealized motion. This work focuses on flower stick juggling and constructs a feedback control strategy for a flower stick juggling task called “propeller” as one of the hitherto unrealized non-grasp manipulations. The propeller motion is modeled by considering combined flower stick and a robotic manipulator. We developed a control strategy that allows stable cyclic rotation of the flower stick in the air and the flower stick propeller motion is realized using an actual robotic system. Finally, we conduct a stability analysis of the generated cyclic motion of the flower stick by using a Poincar\'e map, and the analytical results show that the generated cyclic motion is asymptotically stable.