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AEROARMS Report Summary

Project ID: 644271
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AEROARMS (AErial RObotic system integrating multiple ARMS and advanced manipulation capabilities for inspection and maintenance)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The AEROARMS project is developing the first aerial robotic manipulators with multiple arms and advanced manipulation capabilities to be applied in inspection and maintenance activities in industrial plants particularly in works at height that involves significant risks for human operators and costs. Special attention is paid to pipes inspection and maintenance at height of oil and gas industries (Figure 1). The objectives of AEROARMS are:
1) Research and development on Aerial robotic manipulation for inspection and maintenance improving operational conditions and robustness of the existing systems, as well as in new methods and technologies of aerial manipulation systems with multiple arms, including dual manipulation and fully actuated platforms for future more complex inspection and maintenance tasks
2) Validation in the industrial environment: Contact sensing while flying by using the aerial robotic manipulator, and installation of permanent Non Destructive Tests (NDT) sensors on remote components such as pipe works, fire flares or structural components; and transporting, deploying and retrieving, a mobile robotic system to operate on a remote structure without costly and dangerous human interventions

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Specification and design:
• Definition of business cases including low TRL under isolated pipes and high TRL for non isolated pipes, as well as deploy and retrieval of a robotic crawler on a non-insulated pipe
• Design of the aerial systems from the specifications provided by experts of the Oil & Gas sector
• Lightweight and highly manoeuvrable autonomous powered crawler and sensor system well protected for an aerial transport and deployment
• Framework for algorithms integration, and software development and integration, allowing formal verification of complex missions, and implementation of distributed redundancy
autonomous control
• Modelling and control of flying robots with multiple arms and compliant joints, including the aerodynamics effects of the multirotor flying very close to surfaces
• Dynamic simulator of an aerial platform with a bi-manipulator system and behavioural control approach
• Hand-eye. coordination in the task space domain with the camera-in an arm following the end-effector in the other arm, and visual servoing with hybrid image-based and position-based approach, uncalibrated image-based method and numerical optimization
• Novel fully actuated aerial platforms to perform more dextrous aerial manipulation tasks. Admittance control framework to perform wrench exerting tasks on the environment with an arbitrarily placeable end-effector
• Hardware in the Loop simulation of the teleoperation system, stability analysis with local time delays and force torque feedback
• New bilateral control scheme, exchanging position and force signals between HMI and the aerial robot
• Online trajectory generation using B-splines, whose parameters are jointly controlled by a human supervisor and by an autonomous algorithm.

Autonomous perception
• Fast learning-based online approach for object recognition and validation inspecting a pipe welding or a pipe fissure (Figure 2), visual pose estimation with natural shapes, visual generalized pipe detection and implementations in OpenCV and ROS
• Multi-sensor method for accurate localization and mapping during robot navigation with maps obtained by joining visual and range information
• Application to aerial and crawler robot operation in industrial environment. Visual grasping experiments (see Figure 3) have been performed

Autonomous Planning
• Planning considering the full dynamics of the aerial manipulator system and the limits of the inputs, control an under-actuated vehicle tethered to a mobile or fixed points, and control aware planning that exploits the knowledge of the controller to avoid the generation of states in the planner that are not favourable to the controller
• Reactive methods to execute safely, as closely as possible, the original plan in spite of perturbations, using environment perception with 3D sensors and models of the aerial manipulators

Platform development and integration
Development of three different types of aerial manipulators multi-rotor platforms:
1) Three prototypes of free-flying aerial robots with two multi-link arms. a) two anthropomorphic arms with rigid links and 5 DOF each one; b) compliant arm with 3 DOF and a compliant finger as the end effector; c) dual arm system with two compliant joints 4 DOF each arm (Figure 4)
2) Fully or redundant-actuated prototype based on a star-shaped hexa-rotor structure (Figure 5) with fixedly tilted in order to achieve full actuation, i.e., the possibility to exert both a force and a moment on the main body in any direction and to exert a desired wrench on the external environment, thus achieving full 6D force control
3) High TRL multi-rotor with the capability to maintain contact while flying with a novel patented design that simplifies the control strategy since all torques and forces are transmitted to the centre of gravity of the vehicle, and a passive system absorbing the main linear forces
4) Updating helicopter based platform. New au

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

In the AEROARMS project we are producing worldwide new technologies, based on the previously developed ARCAS aerial robotic manipulators, that we will apply in industrial plants. The main progress beyond the state of the art can be summarised as follows:
• Multi-rotor platforms with two arms and with compliance in arms and fingers, fully actuated platforms with tilted rotors, and autonomous helicopters with new autopilot system.
• Lightweight and highly manoeuvrable crawler
• Impedance control of position and forces, kinematic control with multiple behaviours for dual manipulation and visual servoing
• Bilateral control scheme, exchanging position and force signals
• New fast and online perception approach for aerial manipulation in industrial environments with pipes for the operation of the aerial robot and crawler.
• New planning methods to take into account the full dynamics of the aerial manipulator system and the limits of the inputs, control aware planning, and reactive methods with 3D sensors
The above business cases may have a relevant impact in the inspection and maintenance of many industrial processes, facilities and infrastructures particularly on the inspection of pipes

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