The IEEE International Conference on Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics (ICARM) 2020 was held in Shenzhen, China, and attended by three University of Lincoln’s (UoL) ULTRACEPT researchers; Dr Qinbing Fu, Xuelong Sun, and Tian Liu. These researchers completed 12 month ULTRACEPT secondments with project partner Guangzhou University (GZHU) in China.
The IEEE ARM Conference took place between the 18th and 21st December 2020 and is the flagship conference on bio-mechatronics and bio-robotics systems as well as neuro-robotics systems. The conference provides an international forum for researchers, educators, engineers in general areas of mechatronics, robotics, automation, and sensors to disseminate their latest research results and exchange views on the future research directions of these fields.
The UoL researchers attended to promote their publications produced as part of both the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreements STEP2DYNA (691154) and ULTRACEPT (778062) project.
Dr Qinbing Fu: Complementary Visual Neuronal Systems Model for Collision Sensing
Dr Qinbing Fu presented his research paper entitled “Complementary Visual Neuronal Systems Model for Collision Sensing” which was included in the conference proceedings on Monday morning. Dr Fu was also the chair of MoSHT3 Regular Session, based on the topic of Biomimetics.
Q. Fu and S. Yue, “Complementary Visual Neuronal Systems Model for Collision Sensing,” 2020 5th International Conference on Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics (ICARM), Shenzhen, China, 2020, pp. 609-615, doi: 10.1109/ICARM49381.2020.9195303.
Abstract – Inspired by insects’ visual brains, this paper presents original modelling of a complementary visual neuronal systems model for real-time and robust collision sensing. Two categories of wide-field motion sensitive neurons, i.e., the lobula giant movement detectors (LGMDs) in locusts and the lobula plate tangential cells (LPTCs) in flies, have been studied, intensively. The LGMDs have specific selectivity to approaching objects in depth that threaten collision; whilst the LPTCs are only sensitive to translating objects in horizontal and vertical directions. Though each has been modelled and applied in various visual scenes including robot scenarios, little has been done on investigating their complementary functionality and selectivity when functioning together. To fill this vacancy, we introduce a hybrid model combining two LGMDs (LGMD-1 and LGMD-2) with horizontally (rightward and leftward) sensitive LPTCs (LPTC-R and LPTC-L) specialising in fast collision perception. With coordination and competition between different activated neurons, the proximity feature by frontal approaching stimuli can be largely sharpened up by suppressing translating and receding motions. The proposed method has been implemented in ground micro-mobile robots as embedded systems. The multi-robot experiments have demonstrated the effectiveness and robustness of the proposed model for frontal collision sensing, which outperforms previous single-type neuron computation methods against translating interference.
When asked about the conference experience Dr Fu said;
2020 has been a very tough year for everyone around the world. The pandemic has absolutely affected people’s lives. As an academic researcher, it has become more difficult to exchange ideas closely with other colleagues. Almost all of the academic conferences across every discipline has moved to on-line presenting. This has made it challenging to disseminate research and exchange ideas.
China was suffering from the pandemic in early 2020. However, due to its successful control of COVID-19, after June 2020 most parts of life, including work, had returned to normal. As a result, the conference was successfully held in person as originally planned, although international guests were not able to attend due to travel restrictions.
The conference attendees appreciated how well the conference was organised in Shenzhen. Personally, I very much enjoyed attending this conference. Due to travel restrictions, it was not a large conference, but every detail was considered and arranged properly. There were many enjoyable moments and I learnt alot. The plenary presentations were very high quality. Another special, memorable experience for me was the opportunity to chair a session for the first time during the conference. It was awesome!
Xuelong Sun: Fabrication and Mechanical Analysis of Bioinspired Gliding-optimized Wing Prototypes for Micro Aerial Vehicles
Xuelong Sun presented his co-authored paper ‘Fabrication and Mechanical Analysis of Bioinspired Gliding-optimized Wing Prototypes for Micro Aerial Vehicles‘ as lead author, Huatian Isakhani, was unable to attend due to travel restrictions. Their paper was awarded Best Conference Paper Finalist.
H. Isakhani, S. Yue, C. Xiong, W. Chen, X. Sun and T. Liu, “Fabrication and Mechanical Analysis of Bioinspired Gliding-optimized Wing Prototypes for Micro Aerial Vehicles,” 2020 5th International Conference on Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics (ICARM), Shenzhen, China, 2020, pp. 602-608, doi: 10.1109/ICARM49381.2020.9195392.
Abstract – Gliding is the most efficient flight mode that is explicitly appreciated by natural fliers. This is achieved by high-performance structures developed over millions of years of evolution. One such prehistoric insect, locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a perfect example of a natural glider capable of endured transatlantic flights, which could potentially inspire numerous solutions to the problems in aerospace engineering. However, biomimicry of such aerodynamic properties is hindered by the limitations of conventional as well as modern fabrication technologies in terms of precision and availability, respectively. Therefore, we explore and propose novel combinations of economical manufacturing methods to develop various locust-inspired tandem wing prototypes (i.e. fore and hindwings), for further wind tunnel based aerodynamic studies. Additionally, we determine the flexural stiffness and maximum deformation rate of our prototypes and compare it to their counterparts in nature and literature, recommending the most suitable artificial bioinspired wing for gliding micro aerial vehicle applications.
When asked about the conference Xuelong said;
This has been a fantastic conference, although we are getting through this special year. The keynote speakers delivered very impressive talks concerning Controlling System, AI, and robotics, which offered great food for thought. I was very pleased that our paper was shortlisted for the BEST STUDENTS PAPER AWARD.
In my presentation, I reported on the work we have completed on manufactured bio-inspired wings for future flying robots which mimick locust. We emphasised that the methods applied are affordable, and that the manufactured wings feature high flexibility and rigidity. Although we didn’t win the award, we were finalist, which has encouraged us to keep moving forward with our future research.
Tian Liu: Investigating Multiple Pheromones in Swarm Robots – A Case Study of Multi-Robot Deployment
Tian Lu presented his paper ‘Investigating Multiple Pheromones in Swarm Robots – A Case Study of Multi-Robot Deployment.’
T. Liu, X. Sun, C. Hu, Q. Fu, H. Isakhani and S. Yue, “Investigating Multiple Pheromones in Swarm Robots – A Case Study of Multi-Robot Deployment,” 2020 5th International Conference on Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics (ICARM), Shenzhen, China, 2020, pp. 595-601, doi: 10.1109/ICARM49381.2020.9195311
Abstract – Social insects are known as the experts in handling complex task in a collective smart way although their small brains contain only limited computation resources and sensory information. It is believed that pheromones play a vital role in shaping social insects’ collective behaviours. One of the key points underlying the stigmergy is the combination of different pheromones in a specific task. In the swarm intelligence field, pheromone inspired studies usually focus one single pheromone at a time, so it is not clear how effectively multiple pheromones could be employed for a collective strategy in the real physical world. In this study, we investigate multiple pheromone-based deployment strategy for swarm robots inspired by social insects. The proposed deployment strategy uses two kinds of artificial pheromones; the attractive and the repellent pheromone that enables micro robots to be distributed in desired positions with high efficiency. The strategy is assessed systematically by both simulation and real robot experiments using a novel artificial pheromone platform ColCOSΦ. Results from the simulation and real robot experiments both demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed strategy and reveal the role of multiple pheromones. The feasibility of the ColCOSΦ platform, and its potential for further robotic research on multiple pheromones are also verified. Our study of using different pheromones for one collective swarm robotics task may help or inspire biologists in real insects’ research.
When asked about the conference Tian Lu said;
In the pandemic of COVID-19, this conference is a rare opportunity to listen to the keynote speakers presentations about control, artificial intelligence, and bioinspiration psychically. I also presented my own research about multiple pheromones and experiment system ColCOSΦ, and had a friendly exchange with scholars in related fields. I believe this conference has enabled more people to learn about our research progress and results.