Tag Archives: Useful For Teaching

A nice hybridization of RBPF, high-frequency scan matching and topological maps to perform SLAM, with an also nice state-of-the-art

Aristeidis G. Thallas, Emmanouil G. Tsardoulias, Loukas Petrou, Topological Based Scan Matching – Odometry Posterior Sampling in RBPF Under Kinematic Model Failures, Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, September 2018, Volume 91, Issue 3–4, pp 543–568, DOI: 10.1007/s10846-017-0730-3.

Rao-Blackwellized Particle Filters (RBPF) have been utilized to provide a solution to the SLAM problem. One of the main factors that cause RBPF failure is the potential particle impoverishment. Another popular approach to the SLAM problem are Scan Matching methods, whose good results require environments with lots of information, however fail in the lack thereof. To face these issues, in the current work techniques are presented to combine Rao-Blackwellized particle filters with a scan matching algorithm (CRSM SLAM). The particle filter maintains the correct hypothesis in environments lacking features and CRSM is employed in feature-rich environments while simultaneously reduces the particle filter dispersion. Since CRSM’s good performance is based on its high iteration frequency, a multi-threaded combination is presented which allows CRSM to operate while RBPF updates its particles. Additionally, a novel method utilizing topological information is proposed, in order to reduce the number of particle filter resamplings. Finally, we present methods to address anomalous situations where scan matching can not be performed and the vehicle displays behaviors not modeled by the kinematic model, causing the whole method to collapse. Numerous experiments are conducted to support the aforementioned methods’ advantages.

A unifying framework for path planning in real-time (mainly for UAVs) and a nice summary of the state-of-the-art in modern path planning

M. Murillo, G. SánchezL. GenzelisL. Giovanini, A Real-Time Path-Planning Algorithm based on Receding Horizon Techniques, Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, September 2018, Volume 91, Issue 3–4, pp 445–457, DOI: 10.1007/s10846-017-0740-1.

In this article we present a real-time path-planning algorithm that can be used to generate optimal and feasible paths for any kind of unmanned vehicle (UV). The proposed algorithm is based on the use of a simplified particle vehicle (PV) model, which includes the basic dynamics and constraints of the UV, and an iterated non-linear model predictive control (NMPC) technique that computes the optimal velocity vector (magnitude and orientation angles) that allows the PV to move toward desired targets. The computed paths are guaranteed to be feasible for any UV because: i) the PV is configured with similar characteristics (dynamics and physical constraints) as the UV, and ii) the feasibility of the optimization problem is guaranteed by the use of the iterated NMPC algorithm. As demonstration of the capabilities of the proposed path-planning algorithm, we explore several simulation examples in different scenarios. We consider the existence of static and dynamic obstacles and a follower condition.

On the use of flipped classroom for control engineering classes and its problem with the required (longer) time for learning

Y. Kim and C. Ahn, Effect of Combined Use of Flipped Learning and Inquiry-Based Learning on a System Modeling and Control Course, IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 136-142, DOI: 10.1109/TE.2017.2774194.

Contribution: This paper illustrates how to design and implement curricula in terms of the combined use of flipped learning and inquiry-based learning in an engineering course. Background: Elementary courses in engineering schools are conventional and foundational, and involve a considerable amount of knowledge. Throughout such courses, students are also expected to develop insight, which cannot be obtained by only listening to instructors. Having relevant discussions is also difficult for most instructors. Intended Outcomes: The combined use of flipped learning and inquiry-based learning would be beneficial to broaden student achievement. Application Design: Based on an epistemological approach about knowledge and knowing, this paper applies the combined use of flipped learning and inquiry-based learning to enhance student knowledge and advance ways of thinking on a System Modeling and Control course. Findings: The extended learning time and the collective responsibility for learning are discussed as critical issues in applying the combined use of flipped learning and inquiry-based learning in an engineering school.

A microprocessor designed for real-time predictability and short WCETs

Schoeberl, M., Puffitsch, W., Hepp, S. et al, Patmos: a time-predictable microprocessor, Real-Time Syst (2018) 54: 389, DOI: 10.1007/s11241-018-9300-4.

Current processors provide high average-case performance, as they are optimized for general purpose computing. However, those optimizations often lead to a high worst-case execution time (WCET). WCET analysis tools model the architectural features that increase average-case performance. To keep analysis complexity manageable, those models need to abstract from implementation details. This abstraction further increases the WCET bound. This paper presents a way out of this dilemma: a processor designed for real-time systems. We design and optimize a processor, called Patmos, for low WCET bounds rather than for high average-case performance. Patmos is a dual-issue, statically scheduled RISC processor. A method cache serves as the cache for the instructions and a split cache organization simplifies the WCET analysis of the data cache. To fill the dual-issue pipeline with enough useful instructions, Patmos relies on a customized compiler. The compiler also plays a central role in optimizing the application for the WCET instead of average-case performance.

An interesting simulation educational software for control systems engineering based on controlling a quadrotor

S. Khan, M. H. Jaffery, A. Hanif and M. R. Asif, Teaching Tool for a Control Systems Laboratory Using a Quadrotor as a Plant in MATLAB, IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 249-256, DOI: 10.1109/TE.2017.2653762.

This paper presents a MATLAB-based application to teach the guidance, navigation, and control concepts of a quadrotor to undergraduate students, using a graphical user interface (GUI) and 3-D animations. The Simulink quadrotor model is controlled by a proportional integral derivative controller and a linear quadratic regulator controller. The GUI layout’s many components can be easily programmed to perform various experiments by considering the simulation of the quadrotor as a plant; it incorporates control systems (CS) fundamentals such as time domain response, transfer function and state-space form, pole-zero location, root locus, frequency domain response, steady-state error, position and disturbance response, controller design and tuning, unity, and the use of a Kalman filter as a feedback sensor. 3-D animations are used to display the quadrotor flying in any given condition selected by the user. For each simulation, users can view the output response in the form of 3-D animations, and can run time plots. The quadrotor educational tool (QET) helps students in the CS laboratory understand basic CS concepts. The QET was evaluated based on student feedback, grades, satisfaction, and interest in CS.

A theoretical framework based on hybrid models and logical verification to prove the guarantees for obstacle avoidance in mobile robot navigation

Stefan Mitsch, Khalil Ghorbal, David Vogelbacher, and André Platzer, Formal verification of obstacle avoidance and navigation of ground robots, The International Journal of Robotics Research Vol 36, Issue 12, pp. 1312 – 1340, DOI: 0.1177/0278364917733549.

This article answers fundamental safety questions for ground robot navigation: under which circumstances does which control decision make a ground robot safely avoid obstacles? Unsurprisingly, the answer depends on the exact formulation of the safety objective, as well as the physical capabilities and limitations of the robot and the obstacles. Because uncertainties about the exact future behavior of a robot’s environment make this a challenging problem, we formally verify corresponding controllers and provide rigorous safety proofs justifying why the robots can never collide with the obstacle in the respective physical model. To account for ground robots in which different physical phenomena are important, we analyze a series of increasingly strong properties of controllers for increasingly rich dynamics and identify the impact that the additional model parameters have on the required safety margins. We analyze and formally verify: (i) static safety, which ensures that no collisions can happen with stationary obstacles; (ii) passive safety, which ensures that no collisions can happen with stationary or moving obstacles while the robot moves; (iii) the stronger passive-friendly safety, in which the robot further maintains sufficient maneuvering distance for obstacles to avoid collision as well; and (iv) passive orientation safety, which allows for imperfect sensor coverage of the robot, i.e., the robot is aware that not everything in its environment will be visible. We formally prove that safety can be guaranteed despite sensor uncertainty and actuator perturbation. We complement these provably correct safety properties with liveness properties: we prove that provably safe motion is flexible enough to let the robot navigate waypoints and pass intersections. To account for the mixed influence of discrete control decisions and the continuous physical motion of the ground robot, we develop corresponding hybrid system models and use differential dynamic logic theorem-proving techniques to formally verify their correctness. Since these models identify a broad range of conditions under which control decisions are provably safe, our results apply to any control algorithm for ground robots with the same dynamics. As a demonstration, we also synthesize provably correct runtime monitor conditions that check the compliance of any control algorithm with the verified control decisions.

An open-source implementation of visual SLAM with a very nice related-work section

R. Mur-Artal and J. D. Tardós, ORB-SLAM2: An Open-Source SLAM System for Monocular, Stereo, and RGB-D Cameras, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 1255-1262, DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2017.2705103.

We present ORB-SLAM2, a complete simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) system for monocular, stereo and RGB-D cameras, including map reuse, loop closing, and relocalization capabilities. The system works in real time on standard central processing units in a wide variety of environments from small hand-held indoors sequences, to drones flying in industrial environments and cars driving around a city. Our back-end, based on bundle adjustment with monocular and stereo observations, allows for accurate trajectory estimation with metric scale. Our system includes a lightweight localization mode that leverages visual odometry tracks for unmapped regions and matches with map points that allow for zero-drift localization. The evaluation on 29 popular public sequences shows that our method achieves state-of-the-art accuracy, being in most cases the most accurate SLAM solution. We publish the source code, not only for the benefit of the SLAM community, but with the aim of being an out-of-the-box SLAM solution for researchers in other fields.

Interesting implementation of visual graph SLAM in C++ for educational purposes

Dominik Schlegel, Mirco Colosi, Giorgio Grisetti, ProSLAM: Graph SLAM from a Programmer’s Perspective/strong>, arXiv:1709.04377.

In this paper we present ProSLAM, a lightweight stereo visual SLAM system designed with simplicity in mind. Our work stems from the experience gathered by the authors while teaching SLAM to students and aims at providing a highly modular system that can be easily implemented and understood. Rather than focusing on the well known mathematical aspects of Stereo Visual SLAM, in this work we highlight the data structures and the algorithmic aspects that one needs to tackle during the design of such a system. We implemented ProSLAM using the C++ programming language in combination with a minimal set of well known used external libraries. In addition to an open source implementation, we provide several code snippets that address the core aspects of our approach directly in this paper. The results of a thorough validation performed on standard benchmark datasets show that our approach achieves accuracy comparable to state of the art methods, while requiring substantially less computational resources.

A nice summary of motion planning

J. J. M. Lunenburg, S. A. M. Coenen, G. J. L. Naus, M. J. G. van de Molengraft and M. Steinbuch, “Motion Planning for Mobile Robots: A Method for the Selection of a Combination of Motion-Planning Algorithms,” in IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 107-117, Dec. 2016. DOI: 10.1109/MRA.2015.2510798.

A motion planner for mobile robots is commonly built out of a number of algorithms that solve the two steps of motion planning: 1) representing the robot and its environment and 2) searching a path through the represented environment. However, the available literature on motion planning lacks a generic methodology to arrive at a combination of representations and search algorithm classes for a practical application. This article presents a method to select appropriate algorithm classes that solve both the steps of motion planning and to select a suitable approach to combine those algorithm classes. The method is verified by comparing its outcome with three different motion planners that have been successfully applied on robots in practice.

An excellent survey of metrical SLAM (and of map representations and other issues related to SLAM) as of 2016

C. Cadena et al., “Past, Present, and Future of Simultaneous Localization and Mapping: Toward the Robust-Perception Age,” in IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 32, no. 6, pp. 1309-1332, Dec. 2016. DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2016.2624754.

Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) consists in the concurrent construction of a model of the environment (the map), and the estimation of the state of the robot moving within it. The SLAM community has made astonishing progress over the last 30 years, enabling large-scale real-world applications and witnessing a steady transition of this technology to industry. We survey the current state of SLAM and consider future directions. We start by presenting what is now the de-facto standard formulation for SLAM. We then review related work, covering a broad set of topics including robustness and scalability in long-term mapping, metric and semantic representations for mapping, theoretical performance guarantees, active SLAM and exploration, and other new frontiers. This paper simultaneously serves as a position paper and tutorial to those who are users of SLAM. By looking at the published research with a critical eye, we delineate open challenges and new research issues, that still deserve careful scientific investigation. The paper also contains the authors’ take on two questions that often animate discussions during robotics conferences: Do robots need SLAM? and Is SLAM solved?