Distributed Manipulation

Kluwer Academic Publishers, January 2000

Karl F. Böhringer, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle
Howie Choset, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie-Mellon University
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Distributed manipulation effects motion on objects through a large number of points of contact. The primary benefit of distributed manipulators is that many small inexpensive mechanisms can move and transport large heavy objects. In fact, each individual component is simple, but their combined effect is quite powerful. Furthermore, distributed manipulators are fault-tolerant because if one component breaks, the other components can compensate for the failure and the whole system can still perform its task. Finally, distributed manipulators can perform a variety of tasks in parallel.

Distributed manipulation can be performed by many types of mechanisms at different scales. Due to the recent advances of MEMS (micro electro mechanical system) technology, it has become feasible to quickly manufacture distributed micro manipulators at low cost. One such system is an actuator array where hundreds of micro-scaled actuators transport and manipulate small objects that rest on them. Macroscopic versions of the actuator array have also been developed and analyzed. Another form of distributed manipulation is derived from a vibrating plate and teams of mobile robots have been used to herd large objects into desired locations.

There are many fundamental issues involved in distributed manipulation. Since a distributed manipulator has many actuators, distributed control strategies must be considered to effectively manipulate objects. A basic understanding of contact analysis between the actuators and object must also be considered. When each actuator in the array has a sensor, distributed sensing presents some basic research challenges. Distributed computation and communication are key issues to enable the successful deployment of distributed manipulators into use. Finally, the trade-off in centralized and de-centralized approaches in all of these algorithms must be investigated.

The goal of this workshop is to bring together for the first time several key researchers in distributed manipulation from a variety of fields ranging from MEMS to traditional robotics. The second goal of this workshop is to introduce this new and excited research to the general robotic community and hopefully spark new interests with our colleagues.


Karl F. Böhringer, Howie Choset
U. of Washington / Carnegie-Mellon
Karl F. Böhringer, Bruce R. Donald, Lydia E. Kavraki, Florent Lamiraux
U. of Washington / Dartmouth / Rice
A Distributed, Universal Device for Planar Parts Feeding: Unique Part Orientation in Programmable Force Fields
Bruce R. Donald, Larry Gariepy, Daniela Rus
Experiments in Constrained Prehensile Manipulation: Distributed Manipulation with Ropes
Peter U. Frei, Markus Wiesendanger, Roland Büchi, Lorenz Ruf
ETH Zürich / EPF Lausanne / SIG Pack Systems AG
Simultaneous Planar Transport of Multiple Objects on Individual Trajectories Using Friction Forces
Toshio Fukuda, Isao Takagawa, Kosuke Sekiyama, Yasuhisa Hasegawa
Nagoya University
Hybrid Approach of Centralized Control and Distributed Control for Flexible Transfer System
Satoshi Konishi, Yoshio Mita, Hiroyuki Fujita
Ritsumeikan University / University of Tokyo
Autonomous Distributed System for Cooperative Micromanipulation
Jonathan E. Luntz, William Messner, Howie Choset
Discreteness Issues in Actuator Arrays
Arthur E. Quaid, Ralph L. Hollis
Design and Simulation of a Miniature Mobile Parts Feeder
Dan Reznik, Emil Moshkovich, John Canny
UC Berkeley
Building a Universal Planar Manipulator
Alfred A. Rizzi and Jay Gowdy
Distributed Agent Programming in the Architecture for Agile Assembly
John W. Suh, R. Bruce Darling, Karl F. Böhringer, Bruce R. Donald, Henry Baltes, Gregory T. A. Kovacs
Stanford / U. of Washington / Dartmouth / ETH Zürich
CMOS Integrated Organic Ciliary Actuator Arrays for General-Purpose Micromanipulation Tasks
Satoshi Tadokoro, Satoshi Fuji, Toshi Takamuri, Keisuke Oguro
Kobe University
Distributed Actuation Devices Using Soft-Gel Actuators
Mark Yim, Jim Reich, Andrew A. Berlin
Xerox PARC
Two Approaches to Distributed Manipulation

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© Karl F. Böhringer, Department of Electrical Engineering, Box 352500, Seattle, WA 98195-2500, USA