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Lab Featured in RCJudge

May 11, 2017

Dr. Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, is the director of the Center for Distributed Robotics in Minnesota. He along with several others work on specialized robots which can adapt to their surroundings...
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SUAV:Q featured in New Scientist

February 24, 2017

A shape-shifting drone takes off like a helicopter and transforms into a plane in mid-air to fly all day on solar power. The drone is designed to provide affordable aerial surveys for farmers, so they can see where to irrigate and use fertiliser and herbicide only where needed.
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Lab Director Awarded McKnight Professorship

August 22, 2016

Department of Computer Science and Engineering Professor Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos has been awarded the prestigious McKnight Presidential Professorship by University President Eric Kaler. The professorship is among the highest honors for faculty at the University.
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UMN listed among the top 20 robotics engineering schools

April 25, 2016

The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities has been identified as having one of the top robotics engineering schools in the United States for 2016.
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Dr. Nikos Papanikolopoulos Receives George Saridis Leadership Award

February 3, 2016

Professor Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos was honored with the George Saridis Leadership Award in Robotics and Automation from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) Robotics & Automation Society (RAS). The award recognizes outstanding contributions of an individual for his or her exceptional leadership, innovation and dedication that benefit the Robotics and Automation commun
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The Loper

The Loper is a versatile robotic platform designed for operation in a number of indoor and outdoor environments that would be common in the tasks at hand. The Loper is able to operate in these environments due to the combination of four novel Tri-lobe wheels, each of which is coupled to a high torque AC servo actuator mounted in a highly compliant chassis.

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Further Description

The robots used for environmental monitoring must be capable of functioning in a number of environments that may be difficult for humans to operate. In addition to crossing diverse terrain (e.g., tall grass, sand, gravel, etc.), these robotic systems must be able to overcome man-made structures such as fences, etc. They must be able to carry significant processing and sensing equipment and power to maintain the system for prolonged operation.

The Hybrid robot was developed with obstacle scaling in mind. It is loosely based on the two-wheeled Scout line of robots, but with the addition of a rotary-wing flight mode. This makes it a two-wheeled ground robot that transforms into a helicopter. The flight mode utilizes two coaxial, counter-rotating rotors. A stabilizer bar linked to the upper rotor rejects disturbances and improves controllability.

The Loper is a versatile robotic platform designed for operation in a number of indoor and outdoor environments that would be common in the tasks at hand. The Loper is able to operate in these environments due to the combination of four novel Tri-lobe wheels, each of which is coupled to a high torque AC servo actuator mounted in a highly compliant chassis. The Loper is capable of a maximum sustained speed on level terrain of 8 km/h and can climb stairs at a rate of 6 steps/second. However, for safety purposes this speed is restrained to approximately 3 km/h and 3 steps/second. In other terms, this maximum speed is equivalent to travelling 4.3 body lengths per second which significantly out-paces other similar robot platforms.

The goal of the Loper"s design is to provide resources for (semi)-autonomous operation in a platform that could overcome the limitations of the aforementioned environments. At first glance, the Loper"s Tri-lobe wheels are similar in function to the spokes of the "Mini-Whegs", however, they actually use an active control scheme with independently driven motors similar to RHex. This enables multiple gaits that can not be achieved with the "Mini-Whegs" platform. The shape of the Tri-lobe wheels is similar to those found on MSRox, however, the Trilobe wheels lack the additional wheels found at each spoke of the MSRox.

Publications

Sam D. Herbert, Andrew Drenner, and Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, "Loper: A Quadruped-Hybrid Stair Climbing Robot" Proceedings of the 2008 IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation, Pasadena, CA, May 19-23, 2008.