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Magnetic-field-inspired navigation for mobile robots and manipulators

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

In the last decade, robotics technology has continued to gain a wide-spread reception in various fields. In line with the development of high-speed processors, high-bandwidth sensors, and advance mechanical structure, robots have evolved from a machine initially designed to execute repetitive industrial tasks in a well-defined environment to a smart system used in our everyday life with a direct interaction to human. This shift in robotics application necessitates a new paradigm to solve the problem of robot navigation, particularly to be able to handle an environment with arbitrarily-shaped previously-unknown obstacles. Therefore, to equip a robot with the ability to navigate previously-unknown environments relying only on limited sensor information becomes more important. The aim of this thesis is to develop a reactive navigation for a robot in an unknown environment. Taking inspiration from the laws of electromagnetism, a navigation method is presented, whereby the moving robot induces an artificial electric current onto the obstacle surface generating, in turn, a magnetic field guiding the robot along the obstacle's boundary without affecting its kinetic energy. Compared to existing algorithms, the proposed algorithm offers several advantages: 1) it guarantees obstacle avoidance for convex and non-convex obstacles, 2) goal convergence is guaranteed for point-like robots in environments with convex and non-maze concave obstacles, 3) no prior knowledge of the environment, such as position and geometry of the obstacles, is needed before the robot's movement, 4) it only requires temporally and spatially local environmental sensor information to produce the robot's motion in an iterative manner and 5) it can be implemented on a wide range of robotic platforms in 2D and 3D environments. The proposed navigation is validated in simulations and experiments, showing that the robotic platforms (ranging from planar mobile robot, rigid-link manipulator, to softcontinuum manipulator) located in an unknown environment can navigate towards the goal in a collision-free manner.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 May 2019

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