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Volume 1 • Issue 1 • March 2015 • Pages 1 -158
News & Highlights
Views & Comments
    • [Online] Robotics
    • [Online] Additive manufacturing
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News & Highlights
The Three Gorges Project
Executive Office of the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee, tate Council of the PRC
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 11 -13 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (4151KB)
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A Micromotor Catheter for Intravascular Optical Coherence Tomography
Tianshi Wang, Gijs van Soest, Antonius F. W. van der Steen
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 15 -17 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1100KB)

We have developed a new form of intravascular optical coherence tomography (IV-OCT) that allows the extremely fast acquisition of high-resolution images of the coronary arteries. This process leads to much better image quality by eliminating cardiac motion artefacts and undersampling. It relies on a catheter that incorporates a synchronous micromotor with a diameter of 1.0 mm and a rotational speed of up to 5600 revolutions per second, enabling an IV-OCT frame rate of 5.6 kHz. This speed is matched by a wavelength-swept laser that generates up to 2.8 million image lines per second. With this setup, our team achieved IV-OCT imaging of up to 5600 frames per second (fps) in vitro and 4000 fps in vivo, deployed at a 100 mm·s−1 pullback velocity. The imaging session is triggered by the electrocardiogram of the subject, and can scan a coronary artery in the phase of the heartbeat where the heart is at rest, providing a name for this new technology: the “Heartbeat OCT.”

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Views & Comments
Magnetic Helical Micro- and Nanorobots: Toward Their Biomedical Applications
Famin Qiu, Bradley J. Nelson
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 21 -26 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (3873KB)

Magnetic helical micro- and nanorobots can perform 3D navigation in various liquids with a sub-micrometer precision under low-strength rotating magnetic fields (<10 mT). Since magnetic fields with low strengths are harmless to cells and tissues, magnetic helical micro/nanorobots are promising tools for biomedical applications, such as minimally invasive surgery, cell manipulation and analysis, and targeted therapy. This review provides general information on magnetic helical micro/nanorobots, including their fabrication, motion control, and further functionalization for biomedical applications.

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Architecture and Software Design for a Service Robot in an Elderly-Care Scenario
Norman Hendrich, Hannes Bistry, Jianwei Zhang
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 27 -35 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (8114KB)

Systems for ambient assisted living (AAL) that integrate service robots with sensor networks and user monitoring can help elderly people with their daily activities, allowing them to stay in their homes and live active lives for as long as possible. In this paper, we outline the AAL system currently developed in the European project Robot-Era, and describe the engineering aspects and the service-oriented software architecture of the domestic robot, a service robot with advanced manipulation capabilities. Based on the robot operating system (ROS) middleware, our software integrates a large set of advanced algorithms for navigation, perception, and manipulation. In tests with real end users, the performance and acceptability of the platform are evaluated.

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DARPA Robotics Grand Challenge Participation and Ski-Type Gait for Rough-Terrain Walking
Hongfei Wang, Shimeng Li, Yuan F. Zheng
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 36 -45 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (2440KB)

In this paper, we briefly introduce the history of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge programs with particular focus on the 2012 Robotics Challenge. As members of team DRC-HUBO, we propose different approaches for the Rough-Terrain task, such as enlarged foot pedals and a transformation into quadruped walking. We also introduce a new gait for humanoid robot locomotion to improve stability performance, called the Ski-Type gait. We analyze the stability performance of this gait and use the stability margin to choose between two candidate step sequences, Crawl-1 and Crawl-2. Next, we perform a force/torque analysis for the redundant closed-chain system in the Ski-Type gait, and determine the joint torques by minimizing the total energy consumption. Based on the stability and force/torque analysis, we design a cane length to support a feasible and stable Crawl-2 gait on the HUBO2 humanoid robot platform. Finally, we compare our experimental results with biped walking to validate the Ski-Type gait. We also present our team performance in the trials of the Robotics Challenge.

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Efficient Configuration Space Construction and Optimization for Motion Planning
Jia Pan, Dinesh Manocha
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 46 -57 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (2919KB)

The configuration space is a fundamental concept that is widely used in algorithmic robotics. Many applications in robotics, computer-aided design, and related areas can be reduced to computational problems in terms of configuration spaces. In this paper, we survey some of our recent work on solving two important challenges related to configuration spaces: ① how to efficiently compute an approximate representation of high-dimensional configuration spaces; and ② how to efficiently perform geometric proximity and motion planning queries in high-dimensional configuration spaces. We present new configuration space construction algorithms based on machine learning and geometric approximation techniques. These algorithms perform collision queries on many configuration samples. The collision query results are used to compute an approximate representation for the configuration space, which quickly converges to the exact configuration space. We also present parallel GPU-based algorithms to accelerate the performance of optimization and search computations in configuration spaces. In particular, we design efficient GPU-based parallel k-nearest neighbor and parallel collision detection algorithms and use these algorithms to accelerate motion planning.

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Decentralized Searching of Multiple Unknown and Transient Radio Sources with Paired Robots
Chang-Young Kim, Dezhen Song, Jingang Yi, Xinyu Wu
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 58 -65 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1690KB)

In this paper, we develop a decentralized algorithm to coordinate a group of mobile robots to search for unknown and transient radio sources. In addition to limited mobility and ranges of communication and sensing, the robot team has to deal with challenges from signal source anonymity, short transmission duration, and variable transmission power. We propose a two-step approach: First, we decentralize belief functions that robots use to track source locations using checkpoint-based synchronization, and second, we propose a decentralized planning strategy to coordinate robots to ensure the existence of checkpoints. We analyze memory usage, data amount in communication, and searching time for the proposed algorithm. We have implemented the proposed algorithm and compared it with two heuristics. The experimental results show that our algorithm successfully trades a modest amount of memory for the fastest searching time among the three methods.

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Vibration-Driven Microrobot Positioning Methodologies for Nonholonomic Constraint Compensation
Kostas Vlachos, Dimitris Papadimitriou, Evangelos Papadopoulos
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 66 -72 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (3430KB)

This paper presents the formulation and practical implementation of positioning methodologies that compensate for the nonholonomic constraints of a mobile microrobot that is driven by two vibrating direct current (DC) micromotors. The open-loop and closed-loop approaches described here add the capability for net sidewise displacements of the microrobotic platform. A displacement is achieved by the execution of a number of repeating steps that depend on the desired displacement, the speed of the micromotors, and the elapsed time. Simulation and experimental results verified the performance of the proposed methodologies.

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A Novel Tele-Operated Flexible Robot Targeted for Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery
Zheng Li, Jan Feiling, Hongliang Ren, Haoyong Yu
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 73 -78 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (3530KB)

In this paper, a novel flexible robot system with a constrained tendon-driven serpentine manipulator (CTSM) is presented. The CTSM gives the robot a larger workspace, more dexterous manipulation, and controllable stiffness compared with the da Vinci surgical robot and traditional flexible robots. The robot is tele-operated using the Novint Falcon haptic device. Two control modes are implemented, direct mapping and incremental mode. In each mode, the robot can be manipulated using either the highest stiffness scheme or the minimal movement scheme. The advantages of the CTSM are shown by simulation and experimental results.

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Personalizing a Service Robot by Learning Human Habits from Behavioral Footprints
Kun Li, Max Q.-H. Meng
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 79 -84 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1714KB)

For a domestic personal robot, personalized services are as important as predesigned tasks, because the robot needs to adjust the home state based on the operator’s habits. An operator’s habits are composed of cues, behaviors, and rewards. This article introduces behavioral footprints to describe the operator’s behaviors in a house, and applies the inverse reinforcement learning technique to extract the operator’s habits, represented by a reward function. We implemented the proposed approach with a mobile robot on indoor temperature adjustment, and compared this approach with a baseline method that recorded all the cues and behaviors of the operator. The result shows that the proposed approach allows the robot to reveal the operator’s habits accurately and adjust the environment state accordingly.

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Development Trends in Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing
Bingheng Lu, Dichen Li, Xiaoyong Tian
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 85 -89 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (241KB)

Additive manufacturing and 3D printing technology have been developing rapidly in the last 30 years, and indicate great potential for future development. The promising future of this technology makes its impact on traditional industry unpredictable. 3D printing will propel the revolution of fabrication modes forward, and bring in a new era for customized fabrication by realizing the five “any”s: use of almost any material to fabricate any part, in any quantity and any location, for any industrial field. Innovations in material, design, and fabrication processes will be inspired by the merging of 3D-printing technology and processes with traditional manufacturing processes. Finally, 3D printing will become as valuable for manufacturing industries as equivalent and subtractive manufacturing processes.

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3D Photo-Fabrication for Tissue Engineering and Drug Delivery
Rúben F. Pereira, Paulo J. Bártolo
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 90 -112 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (13414KB)

The most promising strategies in tissue engineering involve the integration of a triad of biomaterials, living cells, and biologically active molecules to engineer synthetic environments that closely mimic the healing milieu present in human tissues, and that stimulate tissue repair and regeneration. To be clinically effective, these environments must replicate, as closely as possible, the main characteristics of the native extracellular matrix (ECM) on a cellular and subcellular scale. Photo-fabrication techniques have already been used to generate 3D environments with precise architectures and heterogeneous composition, through a multi-layer procedure involving the selective photocrosslinking reaction of a light-sensitive prepolymer. Cells and therapeutic molecules can be included in the initial hydrogel precursor solution, and processed into 3D constructs. Recently, photo-fabrication has also been explored to dynamically modulate hydrogel features in real time, providing enhanced control of cell fate and delivery of bioactive compounds. This paper focuses on the use of 3D photo-fabrication techniques to produce advanced constructs for tissue regeneration and drug delivery applications. State-of-the-art photo-fabrication techniques are described, with emphasis on the operating principles and biofabrication strategies to create spatially controlled patterns of cells and bioactive factors. Considering its fast processing, spatiotemporal control, high resolution, and accuracy, photo-fabrication is assuming a critical role in the design of sophisticated 3D constructs. This technology is capable of providing appropriate environments for tissue regeneration, and regulating the spatiotemporal delivery of therapeutics.

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Additive Manufacture of Ceramics Components by Inkjet Printing
Brian Derby
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 113 -123 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (2218KB)

In order to build a ceramic component by inkjet printing, the object must be fabricated through the interaction and solidification of drops, typically in the range of 10−100 pL. In order to achieve this goal, stable ceramic inks must be developed. These inks should satisfy specific rheological conditions that can be illustrated within a parameter space defined by the Reynolds and Weber numbers. Printed drops initially deform on impact with a surface by dynamic dissipative processes, but then spread to an equilibrium shape defined by capillarity. We can identify the processes by which these drops interact to form linear features during printing, but there is a poorer level of understanding as to how 2D and 3D structures form. The stability of 2D sheets of ink appears to be possible over a more limited range of process conditions that is seen with the formation of lines. In most cases, the ink solidifies through evaporation and there is a need to control the drying process to eliminate the: “coffee ring” defect. Despite these uncertainties, there have been a large number of reports on the successful use of inkjet printing for the manufacture of small ceramic components from a number of different ceramics. This technique offers good prospects as a future manufacturing technique. This review identifies potential areas for future research to improve our understanding of this manufacturing method.

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Dual-Material Electron Beam Selective Melting: Hardware Development and Validation Studies
Chao Guo, Wenjun Ge, Feng Lin
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 124 -130 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (9569KB)

Electron beam selective melting (EBSM) is an additive manufacturing technique that directly fabricates three-dimensional parts in a layerwise fashion by using an electron beam to scan and melt metal powder. In recent years, EBSM has been successfully used in the additive manufacturing of a variety of materials. Previous research focused on the EBSM process of a single material. In this study, a novel EBSM process capable of building a gradient structure with dual metal materials was developed, and a powder-supplying method based on vibration was put forward. Two different powders can be supplied individually and then mixed. Two materials were used in this study: Ti6Al4V powder and Ti47Al2Cr2Nb powder. Ti6Al4V has excellent strength and plasticity at room temperature, while Ti47Al2Cr2Nb has excellent performance at high temperature, but is very brittle. A Ti6Al4V/Ti47Al2Cr2Nb gradient material was successfully fabricated by the developed system. The microstructures and chemical compositions were characterized by optical microscopy, scanning microscopy, and electron microprobe analysis. Results showed that the interface thickness was about 300 μm. The interface was free of cracks, and the chemical compositions exhibited a staircase-like change within the interface.

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Marine Structures: Future Trends and the Role of Universities
Preben Terndrup Pedersen
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 131 -138 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (8482KB)

This paper emphasizes some of the challenges and trends associated with the future development of marine structures. Its main focus is on ways to improve the efficiency of energy-consuming ships, and on design challenges related to energy-producing offshore structures. This paper also discusses the analysis tools that are most needed to enable sustainable designs for future ships and offshore structures. The last section of the paper contains thoughts on the role of universities in education, research, and innovation regarding marine structures. It discusses curriculum requirements for maritime-technology education, basic research activities, and international cooperation.

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Fundamental and Technical Challenges for a Compatible Design Scheme of Oxyfuel Combustion Technology
Chuguang Zheng, Zhaohui Liu, Jun Xiang, Liqi Zhang, Shihong Zhang, Cong Luo, Yongchun Zhao
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 139 -149 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (5215KB)

Oxyfuel combustion with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is a carbon-reduction technology for use in large-scale coal-fired power plants. Significant progress has been achieved in the research and development of this technology during its scaling up from 0.4 MWth to 3 MWth and 35 MWth by the combined efforts of universities and industries in China. A prefeasibility study on a 200 MWe large-scale demonstration has progressed well, and is ready for implementation. The overall research development and demonstration (RD&D) roadmap for oxyfuel combustion in China has become a critical component of the global RD&D roadmap for oxyfuel combustion. An air combustion/oxyfuel combustion compatible design philosophy was developed during the RD&D process. In this paper, we briefly address fundamental research and technology innovation efforts regarding several technical challenges, including combustion stability, heat transfer, system operation, mineral impurities, and corrosion. To further reduce the cost of carbon capture, in addition to the large-scale deployment of oxyfuel technology, increasing interest is anticipated in the novel and next-generation oxyfuel combustion technologies that are briefly introduced here, including a new oxygen-production concept and flameless oxyfuel combustion.

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Scientific and Engineering Progress in CO2 Mineralization Using Industrial Waste and Natural Minerals
Heping Xie, Hairong Yue, Jiahua Zhu, Bin Liang, Chun Li, Yufei Wang, Lingzhi Xie, Xiangge Zhou
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 150 -157 .
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The issues of reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere, sustainably utilizing natural mineral resources, and dealing with industrial waste offer challenging opportunities for sustainable development in energy and the environment. The latest advances in CO2 mineralization technology involving natural minerals and industrial waste are summarized in this paper, with great emphasis on the advancement of fundamental science, economic evaluation, and engineering applications. We discuss several leading large-scale CO2 mineralization methodologies from a technical and engineering-science perspective. For each technology option, we give an overview of the technical parameters, reaction pathway, reactivity, procedural scheme, and laboratorial and pilot devices. Furthermore, we present a discussion of each technology based on experimental results and the literature. Finally, current gaps in knowledge are identified in the conclusion, and an overview of the challenges and opportunities for future research in this field is provided.

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Letter from Editors-in-Chief
Zhihua Zhong,Raj Reddy
Engineering . 2015, 1 (1): 158 .
Abstract   HTML   PDF (638KB)
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