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Proceedings Paper

Simulation tools for robotics research and assessment
Author(s): MaryAnne Fields; Ralph Brewer; Harris L. Edge; Jason L. Pusey; Ed Weller; Dilip G. Patel; Charles A. DiBerardino
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Paper Abstract

The Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (RCTA) program focuses on four overlapping technology areas: Perception, Intelligence, Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), and Dexterous Manipulation and Unique Mobility (DMUM). In addition, the RCTA program has a requirement to assess progress of this research in standalone as well as integrated form. Since the research is evolving and the robotic platforms with unique mobility and dexterous manipulation are in the early development stage and very expensive, an alternate approach is needed for efficient assessment. Simulation of robotic systems, platforms, sensors, and algorithms, is an attractive alternative to expensive field-based testing. Simulation can provide insight during development and debugging unavailable by many other means. This paper explores the maturity of robotic simulation systems for applications to real-world problems in robotic systems research. Open source (such as Gazebo and Moby), commercial (Simulink, Actin, LMS), government (ANVEL/VANE), and the RCTA-developed RIVET simulation environments are examined with respect to their application in the robotic research domains of Perception, Intelligence, HRI, and DMUM. Tradeoffs for applications to representative problems from each domain are presented, along with known deficiencies and disadvantages. In particular, no single robotic simulation environment adequately covers the needs of the robotic researcher in all of the domains. Simulation for DMUM poses unique constraints on the development of physics-based computational models of the robot, the environment and objects within the environment, and the interactions between them. Most current robot simulations focus on quasi-static systems, but dynamic robotic motion places an increased emphasis on the accuracy of the computational models. In order to understand the interaction of dynamic multi-body systems, such as limbed robots, with the environment, it may be necessary to build component-level computational models to provide the necessary simulation fidelity for accuracy. However, the Perception domain remains the most problematic for adequate simulation performance due to the often cartoon nature of computer rendering and the inability to model realistic electromagnetic radiation effects, such as multiple reflections, in real-time.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 May 2016
PDF: 16 pages
Proc. SPIE 9837, Unmanned Systems Technology XVIII, 98370J (13 May 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2231107
Show Author Affiliations
MaryAnne Fields, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)
Ralph Brewer, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)
Harris L. Edge, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)
Jason L. Pusey, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)
Ed Weller, General Dynamics Land Systems (United States)
Dilip G. Patel, General Dynamics Land Systems (United States)
Charles A. DiBerardino, General Dynamics Land Systems (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9837:
Unmanned Systems Technology XVIII
Robert E. Karlsen; Douglas W. Gage; Charles M. Shoemaker; Grant R. Gerhart, Editor(s)

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