Special issue: Ubiquitous networked robots

Vol. 67, n° 7-8, July-August 2012
Content available on Springerlink

Guest editors
Yacine Amirat, LISSI, University of Paris-Est, France
Abdelhamid Mellouk, LISSI & IUT C/V, University of Paris-Est, France
Norihiro Hagita, ATR, IRC Labs, Japan
Dezhen Song, Texas A&M University, USA


Yacine Amirat, Abdelhamid, Mellouk, Norihiro Hagita, Dezhen Song

Autonomous robot exploration in smart environments exploiting wireless sensors and visual features

Andrea Bardella, Matteo Danieletto, Emanuele Menegatti, Andrea Zanella, Alberto Pretto and Pietro Zanuttigh
University of Padova, Italy

Abstract This paper presents a complete solution for the integration of robots and wireless sensor networks in an ambient intelligence scenario. The basic idea consists in shifting from the paradigm of a very skilled robot interacting with standard objects to a simpler robot able to communicate with smart objects, i.e., objects capable of interacting among themselves and with the robots. A smart object is a standard item equipped with a wireless sensor node (or mote) that provides sensing, communication, and computational capabilities. The mote’s memory is preloaded with object information, as name, size, and visual descriptors of the object. In this paper, we will show how the orthogonal advantages of wireless sensor network technology and of mobile robots can be synergically combined in our approach. We detail the design and the implementation of the interaction of the robot with the smart objects in the environment. Our approach encompasses three main phases: (a) discovery, the robot discovers the smart objects in the area by using wireless communication; (b) mapping, the robot moving in the environment roughly maps the objects in space using wireless communication; (c) recognition, the robot recognizes and precisely locates the smart object of interest by requiring the object to transmit its visual appearance. Hence, the robot matches this appearance with its visual perception and reach the object for fine-grain interaction. Experimental validation for each of the three phases in a real environment is presented.

Keywords  Wireless sensor network – Mobile robot – Ambient intelligence – Object-recognition – MoBIF – Mapping – Localization

Low response time context awareness through extensible parameter adaptation with ORCA

Jean-Yves Tigli1, Stéphane Lavirotte1, Gaëtan Rey1, Vincent Hourdin1, Nicolas Ferry1,2, Christophe Vergoni1,3 and Michel Riveill
1 Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis/CNRS, France
2 CSTB, Centre scientifique et technique du bâtiment, Sophia-Antipolis, France
3 GFI Informatique, Sophia Antipolis, France

Abstract Ubiquitous computing applications or widespread robots interactions execute in unforeseen environments and need to adapt to changeful available services, user needs, and variations of the environment. Context-awareness ability addresses such a need, enabling, through adaptation rules, applications to react to the perceived dynamic variations. Responses to adaptation have to be quick enough to maximize the time during which the application is coherent with its environment. Adaptation rules, associating variations of the environment to application reactions, are usually established at design time. However, in unforeseen and partially anticipated environments, we claim that adaptation rules have to be dynamically extensible to match previously unexpected variations. Our approach enables rule composition and ensures a deterministic result. We propose to use parameter adaptation to quickly respond to environmental variations and dynamic compositional adaptation to provide extensibility to the parameter adaptation. To foster even lower response times, we internalize context-awareness processing and decision into the application.

Response time – Dynamic adaptation – Internalized context awareness – Rule composition – Extensible parameter adaptation

Cooperative customer navigation between robots outside and inside a retail shop—an implementation on the ubiquitous market platform

Koji Kamei, Tetsushi Ikeda, Masahiro Shiomi, Hiroyuki Kidokoro, Akira Utsumi, Kazuhiko Shinozawa, Takahiro Miyashita and Norihiro Hagita
ATR, Intelligent Robotics and Communications Laboratories, Kyoto, Japan

Abstract Applying the technologies of a network robot system, recommendation methods used in e-commerce are incorporated in a retail shop in the real world. We constructed a platform for ubiquitous networked robots that focuses on a shop environment where communication robots perform customer navigation. The platform observes customers’ purchasing behavior by networked sensors, including a laser range finder-based human position tracking system, and then controls visible-type communication robots in the environment to perform customer navigation. Two types of navigation scenarios are implemented and investigated in experiments using 80 participants. The results indicate that the participants in the cooperative navigation scenario, who interacted with communication robots located both outside and inside the shop, felt friendliness toward the robots and found it easy to understand what the robots said.

Keywords  Network robot system – Human position tracking – Persuasive technology – Recommendation

Towards an event-aware approach for ubiquitous computing based on automatic service composition and selection

Ali Yachir1,2,3, Yacine Amirat1, Abdelghani Chibani1 and Nadjib Badache2
1 University of Paris Est Créteil (UPEC), France
2 University of Science and Technology, El-Alia, Algeria
3 Military Polytechnic School (EMP), Algiers, Algeria

Abstract Service composition in ubiquitous and pervasive environments is becoming an active research domain which has received widespread attention in recent years. It aims to offer seamless access to a variety of high level and complex functionalities by combining existing services. Several frameworks have been designed to support service composition in ubiquitous and pervasive environments. Although some ubiquitous requirements and challenges are relatively well addressed by the proposed frameworks, others are still at a preliminary stage and should be well explored such as, automatic service composition with little human intervention, context and quality of service management, and service selection under uncertainty and changes. For this end, we propose in this paper a layered design approach for flexible and failure tolerant service composition using two main phases: off-line phase and on-line phase. In the off-line phase, a global graph that links all the available abstract services is generated automatically using rule-based technique. The defined rules aim at optimizing both the number of services and parameters that appear in the global graph. In the on-line phase, a subgraph is extracted spontaneously from the global graph according to the occurred and detected event in the environment at real time. Thereafter, the extracted subgraph is performed using service selection strategies. A prototype implementation including real services for event detection in smart home shows clearly the feasibility of the proposed approach in real environment. Also, the set of performed evaluation tests reveals the interest and the performance of the proposed algorithms.

Keywords  Ubiquitous and pervasive computing – Service composition – Context and QoS-based service selection – Uncertainty management – Event handling

Data fusion in ubiquitous networked robot systems for urban services

Luis Merino1, Andrew Gilbert2, Jesús Capitán3, Richard Bowden2, John Illingworth2 and Aníbal Ollero4,5
1 Pablo de Olavide University, Seville, Spain
2 University of Surrey, UK
3 Instituto Superior Tecnico, Lisbon, Portugal
4 University of Seville, Spain
5 Centre for Advanced Aerospace Technology, La Rinconada, Spain

Abstract  There is a clear trend in the use of robots to accomplish services that can help humans. In this paper, robots acting in urban environments are considered for the task of person guiding. Nowadays, it is common to have ubiquitous sensors integrated within the buildings, such as camera networks, and wireless communications like 3G or WiFi. Such infrastructure can be directly used by robotic platforms. The paper shows how combining the information from the robots and the sensors allows tracking failures to be overcome, by being more robust under occlusion, clutter, and lighting changes. The paper describes the algorithms for tracking with a set of fixed surveillance cameras and the algorithms for position tracking using the signal strength received by a wireless sensor network (WSN). Moreover, an algorithm to obtain estimations on the positions of people from cameras on board robots is described. The estimate from all these sources are then combined using a decentralized data fusion algorithm to provide an increase in performance. This scheme is scalable and can handle communication latencies and failures. We present results of the system operating in real time on a large outdoor environment, including 22 nonoverlapping cameras, WSN, and several robots.

Keywords  Ubiquitous networked robots – Decentralized data fusion – Service and social robotics – Person tracking

Swarm intelligence routing approach in networked robots

S. Hoceini1, A. Mellouk1, A. Chibani1, Y. Touati2 and B. Augustin1
1 University of Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC), France
2 University Paris 8, Saint-Denis, France

Abstract Robot swarm combined with wireless communication has been a key driving force in recent few years and has currently expanded to wireless multihop networks, which include ad hoc radio networks, sensor networks, wireless mesh networks, etc. The aim of this paper is to propose an approach which introduces a polynomial time approximation path navigation algorithm and constructs dynamic state-dependent navigation policies. The proposed algorithm uses an inductive approach based on trial/error paradigm combined with swarm adaptive approaches to optimize simultaneously two criteria: cumulative cost path and end-to-end delay path. The approach samples, estimates, and builds the model of pertinent aspects of the environment. It uses a model that combines both a stochastic planned prenavigation for the exploration phase and a deterministic approach for the backward phase. To show the robustness and performances of the proposed approach, simulation scenario is built through the specification of the interested network topology and involved network traffic between robots. For this, this approach has been compared to traditional optimal path routing policy.

Keywords  Networked robots – Robot swarm – Adaptive approaches – Irregular traffic – Quality of service based routing

Living activity recognition using off-the-shelf sensors on mobile phones

Kazushige Ouchi and Miwako Doi
Toshibal Corporation, Kawasaki, Japan

Abstract In aging societies, such as that of Japan, there is growing awareness that robotic technology has the potential to help both physical and mental labor. To take an example of mental labor, the robotic technology can contribute as an interface to home electric appliances and a conversation partner with interactive communication. In this case, it is important to recognize the elderly user’s activities for not only watching-over services but also improving the quality of the conversation. We propose a low-throughput recognition method for in-home living activity recognition using only off-the-shelf sensors, namely an accelerometer and a microphone, which are commonly applied in mobile phones. The system can determine whether the user is walking, quiet, or performing a task by acceleration sensing, and then in the latter case, acoustic sensing can be used to classify the nature of the task that the user is performing. We conducted two experiments to confirm the feasibility of the proposed method. As a result of the first experiment, three movement conditions are classified with more than 95 % accuracy by acceleration sensing: walking, quiet, or performing a task. And it classified the nature of the task into brushing teeth, shaving, drying the hair with a hairdryer, flushing the toilet, vacuuming, washing the dishes, and ironing with 75.8 % accuracy by acoustic sensing and improved the accuracy to 85.9 % by training with only the subject’s own data. Moreover, the result of the second experiment shows that it is effective to adopt instance-based recognition which is an additional recognition scheme per each continuous task, according to the assumed application.

Keywords  Living activity recognition – Accelerometer – Microphone – Mobile phone

Open topics

A contribution to the reduction of the dynamic power dissipation in the turbo decoder

Haisheng Liu1,2, Christophe Jego3, Emmanuel Boutillon2, Michel Jezequel1 and Jean-Philippe Diguet2
1 Institut Mines-Télécom/Télécom Bretagne-CNRS, Brest, France
2 Université de Bretagne Sud-CNRS, Lorient, France
3 CNRS-IPB/Enseirb-Matmeca, Bordeaux, France

Abstract In the field of mobile communication systems, the energy issue of a turbo decoder becomes an equivalent constraint as throughput and performance. This paper presents a contribution to the reduction of the power consumption in the turbo decoder. The main idea is based on re-encoding technique combined with dummy insertion during the iterative decoding process. This technique, named “toward zero path” (TZP) helps in reducing the state transition activity of the Max-Log-MAP algorithm by trying to maintain the survivor path on the ‘zero path’ of the trellis. The design of a turbo decoder based on the TZP technique, associated with different power reduction technique (saturation of state metrics, stoping criterium) is described. The resulting turbo decoder was implemented onto a Xilinx VirtexII-Pro field-programmable gate array (FPGA) in a digital communication experimental setup. Performance and accurate power dissipation measurements have been done thanks to dynamic partial reconfiguration of the FPGA device. The experimental results have shown the interest of the different contributions for the design of turbo decoders.

Turbo codes – Max-Log-MAP algorithm – Re-encoding technique – Energy efficient architecture – FPGA prototyping

Joint trellis-coded quantization watermarking for JPEG2000 images

Dalila Goudia1,2, Marc Chaumont1,3, William Puech1 and Naima Hadj Said2
1 University of Montpellier II, France
2 University of Science and Technologies of Oran (USTO), Oran, Algeria
3 University of Nîmes, France

Abstract Watermarking in the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)2000 coding pipeline is investigated in this paper. A joint quantization and watermarking method based on trellis-coded quantization (TCQ) is proposed to reliably embed data during the quantization stage of the JPEG2000 part 2 codec. The central contribution of this work is the use of a single quantization module to jointly perform quantization and watermark embedding at the same time. The TCQ-based watermarking technique allows embedding the watermark in the detail sub-bands of one or more resolution levels except the first one. Watermark recovery is performed after image decompression. The performance of this joint scheme in terms of image quality and robustness against common image attacks was estimated on real images.

Keywords  Image compression – Digital watermarking – JPEG2000 – TCQ