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Volcano Robots

[Volcano] Development of Multi DOF Tracked Vehicle to Improve weak slope terrainability

In response to active volcano observation, our research group developed a novel multi-D.O.F. tracked vehicle, called ELF. The robot essentially consists of six tracks, and it has eleven actuators for locomotion and change of configuration. These actuators enable the robot to assume various configurations, which increase its ability to traverse weak and rough terrains in volcanic areas. In this movie-clip, the mechanism of Elf and its initial test in a volcanic field are introduced.

[Volcano] Field experiment of robotic technologies to forecast debris flow in Unzen-Fugen-dake

To forecast debris flow in case of a volcanic eruption, our research group made field experiments of robotic technologies in Unzen-Fugen-dake, Nov. 2016. The first experiment was a soil-sampling. The UAV and soil-sampling device returned less than 100g soil. The second experiment was a simple permeability survey with a UAV and a suspended device. It cannot act an actual permeability measurement, but a tendency of permeability can be observed by popping a water balloon. The last experiment was to retracted UGV by UAV’s capturing net. All experiments were conducted in the construction area of Unzen-Fugen-dake, and the sampling device worked in an actual restricted area. (Dec., 2016)

[Zion+CLOVER] A basic experiment for deploying and retracting a UGV by a UAV

In 2013, we succeeded in an initial experiment of robotic observation in volcanic areas for a UGV deployed by a UGV on Mt. Asama. However, the system could not bring the UGV back to the base, because it did not include the function to capture the UGV. Therefore, in this research, we developed a capturing net for retracting a small-sized UGV suspended by UAV. In this videoclip, we introduce a basic experiment for deploying and retracting the UGV with a capturing net hung by a UAV. (Nov., 2016)

Autonomous Lake Bed Depth Mapping by a Portable Semi-submersible USV at Mt. Zao Okama Crater Lake

Surveillance of the crater lake is valuable for volcanic disaster prevention. However, this is dangerous work for humans.

We developed an autonomous depth mapping system to reduce the risk of surveillance. A field test was performed at Mt. Zao Okama Crater Lake on June 2, 2016. The path for the autonomous depth mapping was designed to avoid manned surveillance. The navigation through 450 meters of the path was done in 35 minutes. No upset occurs under 5 to 20 m/s of winds and blast. A maximum angle of the body swing was 0.09 rad. Lake bed depth map was successfully generated by the autonomous USV system.

Sample-Return Devices for Obtaining Volcanic Materials 2015

When an active volcano erupts, a restricted area is imposed around the crater of the volcano for safety. On the other hand, it is important to observe inside of the restricted area. Particularly, sampling and analyzing of volcanic products inside the restricted area is very important for a forecast of volcanic activity and disasters. In our past research, we have been developing a roller type sampling device to obtain small volcanic materials, and carried out indoor experiments and outdoor field tests. Through the experiments, we found that some issues were uncovered. Therefore, in this research, we developed a new sampling devices to solve them. In this video clip, we introduce our new sampling devices, and report outdoor field tests using the devices.

Steering control of a mobile robot for volcano exploration using a mechanism of roll downhill

In this research, we aim at developing a mobile robot for volcano exploration using a mechanism of roll downhill. This is a mechanical challenge to save energy of locomotion on steep slopes, such as volcano fields. Some steering results are introduced in this videoclip.

Development of sensing technology for debris flow prediction with MUAVs

In this research, we aim at developing observation technologies of debris flow after volcano eruption using multiple units of multi-rotor MUAVs (Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). On Dec.8-9, 2014, verification tests of volcanic observation were conducted in Sakurajima-Island. In one of the test missions was to observe the active volcano crater. Our MUAV flew to the Showa crater (4km away from the departure point) based on the pre-determined path and returned within 20 minutes. In addition, 3D terrain map was generated by many 2D high-resolution photos based on Structure From Motion (SFM) technique. Smart3Dcapture, commercially available software, was used for the purpose. This video clip includes the above topics and soil-sampling experiment using multi-rotor UAV.

[Strawberry2] : Sample-Return Device for Obtaining Volcaniclastic Materials

Our research group have been developing a roller type sample-return device, which was hanging down from a multi-rotor UAV, and carried out indoor experiments and outdoor field tests. Through the experiments, we found that some issues were uncovered. Therefore, in this research, we developed a new sampling device to solve them. In this video clip, we introduce our recent developed devices, and report outdoor experiments in Mt. Asama. (Oct., 2014)

[Zion+CLOVER] : Robotic Observations in a volcanos using UAV and UGV on Mt.Asama 2014

Observation of an active volcano is very important to determine a strategy for estimating its eruptive activity and providing residents with an evacuation warning. Therefore, we have been conducting field tests of robotic observations in a volcanic area using a multi-rotor UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and a small ground robot. In this videoclip, we introduce our recent field test of cooperative motion between UAV and small UGV in Sept, 2014, on Mt. Asama. It is almost the same as the demonstration in Sept. 2013, shown the below. It used tether landing to improve its safety, and completed automatic delivering of the small ground robot. The ground robot was tele-operated 3km far away from the robot (Oct., 2014)

Teleoperating mobile robots via a hybrid communication system

When an active volcano erupts, it is important to observe in the area for forecasting debris flood and/or a pyroclastic flow for inhabitants. However, typically, a restricted area is set, such as within a few kilometers radius of the crater. Therefore, we proposed an observation system based on a tele-operated mobile robot via radio communication in active volcanoes. To evaluate the system, we conducted some field tests via 3G communication in Mt. Asama and Mt. Mihara etc. During the experiments, we faced some critical situations that the robot stopped all motion because of weakness of communication signal of 3G. To solve the problem, in this research, we developed a hybrid connection system with multi-robots that is composed of two radio communication lines. In this movieclip, we explain how the system works, introduce our new robots equipped with the system, and report some operation tests on them.

Sample-Return Device for Obtaining Volcaniclastic Materials

When an active volcano erupts, typically, a restricted area is set around the crater for safety. However, it is important to observe inside of the restricted area for a forecast of disasters, such as debris flow. There are some proposals of visual observation methods in restricted areas, e.g. a tele-operated mobile ground robot with cameras. However, there is no sample-return method for obtaining volcaniclastic materials from such restricted areas. Therefore, in this research, we developed a sample-return device, called strawberry, which was hanging down from a multi-rotor UAV. In this video clip, we introduce our developed devices, and report indoor and outdoor experiments.

[Zion+CLOVER] Robotic Observations in a volcanos using UAV and UGV in Mt.Asama

Observation of an active volcano is very important to determine a strategy for estimating its eruptive activity and providing residents with an evacuation warning. In this research, we proposed robotic observations in a volcanic area after an eruption using a multi-rotor UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and a small ground robot. In this videoclip, we introduce our cooperative demonstration between UAV and small UGV in Sept, 2013, in Mt. Asama. It used tether landing to improve its safety, and completed automatic delivering of the small ground robot. The ground robot was tele-operated 3km far away from the robot. (Sept., 2013)

[Zion+CLOVER] : Robotic Observations in a volcanos using a UAV and a small UGV

Observation of an active volcano is very important to determine a strategy for estimating its eruptive activity and providing residents with an evacuation warning. In this research, we proposed robotic observations in a volcanic area after an eruption using a multi-rotor UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and a small ground robot. Field experiments are effective at promoting this type of research and development. Therefore, we performed several field experiments at volcanic places. In this videoclip, we introduce our cooperative demonstration between UAV (Zion Pro 800, EnRoute) and small UGV (CLOVER) in March, 2013, in Mt. Shinmoe-dake.

[TOBI] : Development of a multi-rotor UAV in high-altitude flight

To explore in volcano areas, we have a scenario that a multi-rotor UAV transports a small robot in its restricted area. However, in high-altitude flight, thrust generated by rotors is smaller than that at sea level. Therefore, we developed the prototype UAV, named TOBI. It has a sufficient ability to transport 1.5 kg payload at high-altitude condition a.s.l. 1,000[m]. In this videoclip, we demonstrated TOBI's flight to confirm its usefulness for transportation of a small robot in a volcano area. (Oct. 2012)

[GeoStar] : Development of light-weight wheeled robots, "GeoStar" series

An observation of an active volcano is very important to work out a strategy for estimation of eruptive activity and evacuation call to residents. However, it is a too dangerous task for human to install cameras during eruptive activity. Therefore, we proposed a robotic observation in volcano area, and performed several field tests to realize an observation system. The videoclip shows field tests using small light-weight wheeled robots, called GeoStar. In the first scene, GeoStar-II is tele-operated from 3km away using cellar phone's communication, which is called FOMA in Japan. The next scene is a demonstration between the GeoStar-mini and the flying robot, TOBI. In the last scene, GeoStar-III is tele-operated from Izu-Oshima Onsen Hotel using FOMA communication. It was navigated in total 2,300 m to the Mt. Kushigata. (Oct. 2012)

[PTZ Camera] : Development of a Portable Camera System for Long Term Observation

We developed a portable camera system to observe a natural dam or volcano area from remote area. In this videoclip, we explain the camera system and report a result of long term observation test using the system in Mt. Asama area. (Dec. 2012)

[TrackWalker-II] : Volcano exploration robot, TrackWalker-II in Mt. Mihara

We developed an improved version of TrackWalker, called TrackWalker-II, that had low center of gravity, and longer tracks. To validate the mechanism, we conducted outdoor experiments in Mt. Mihara in Nov. 2011. In the field experiment, the robot traversed abot 460m on a climbing route of Mt. Mihara (angle:15-25 deg, difference of elevation:85m) and climbed weak and steep slope (32 deg) on Ura-Sabaku. (Nov. 2011)

[TrackWalker-II] : Volcano exploration robot, TrackWalker-II in Mt. Asama

We developed a new locomotion mechanism, called TrackWalker in 2010. It consisted of three track modules. It mounts six actuators: three motors for standard tracked locomotion, two motors for sub-tracks' motion to change mounting angles, and one motor for simple legged motion. We conducted outdoor experiments in Mt.Asama in 2010, and we found some problems. Therefore, in 2011, we developed improved version of TrackWalker, called TrackWalker-II, that had low center of gravity, and longer tracks. To validate the mechanism, we conducted outdoor experiments in Mt. Asama again in Oct. 2011. In the field experiment, the robot traversed about 700m on a weak and steep slope (angle: 15-30deg, difference of elevation:160m). (Oct. 2011)

[Tobi & GeoStar] : Cooperative robotic system for volcano observation

An observation of an active volcano is very important to work out a strategy for estimation of eruptive activity and evacuation call to residents. However, it is a too dangerous task for human to install cameras during eruptive activity. Therefore, we proposed a robotic observation in volcano area, and performed several field tests to realize an observation system. The videoclip shows a simple demonstration of the cooperative robotic system between the light-weight wheeled mobile robot, called GeoStar, and the flying robot, called Tobi, for volcano observation. (Oct. 2012)

[BladeWalker] : Exploration on weak ground, BladeWalker

To realize high mobility on weak soil, we developed a new locomotion mechanism, referred to as surface-contact-type locomotion. It uses a simple legged mechanism that has a wide contact area with the ground so as not to corrupt the contact surface. The concept was inherited to the trackwalker. (Feb. 2009)

[TrackWalker] : Volcano exploration robot, TrackWalker

A performance of track mechanism is also much better than wheeled mechanism on loose soil, typically. However, it sometimes slips while traversing slopes comprising loose soil. To realize high mobility on weak soil, we developed a new locomotion mechanism, referred to as surface-contact-type locomotion, called BladeWalker. However, it has the disadvantage of low mobility on irregular terrain. To solve the problem of the above trade-off, we developed the leg-track hybrid locomotion mechanism by fusing the two locomotion mechanisms. It consists of three track modules. It mounts six actuators: three motors for standard tracked locomotion, two motors for sub-tracks' motion to change mounting angles, and one motor for simple legged motion. To validate the mechanism, we conducted outdoor experiments in Mt. Asama. (Oct. 2010)

Paper: Keiji Nagatani, Hiroaki Kinoshita, Kazuya Yoshida, Kenjiro Tadakuma, Eiji Koyanagi,``Development of leg-track hybrid locomotion to traverse loose slopes and irregular terrain'',Journal of Field Robotics,Volume 28, Issue 6, pp.950-960 (2011-11)