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2017 3rd Iranian Conference on Signal Processing and Intelligent Systems (ICSPIS)

An Experimental Study on Vision based Controlling

of a Spherical Rolling Robot

Rasoul Sadeghian Shahrooz Shahin Mehdi Tale Masouleh

Human and Robot Interaction Human and Robot Interaction Human and Robot Interaction Laboratory,
Laboratory, Tehran, Iran. Laboratory, Tehran, Iran. School of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Email: Email: University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Abstract— In this paper, three path planning algorithms and latter subjects have a direct effect in system energy consuming
the comparison between them are described in terms of which has connection with lifetime of the system. Some of
processing time and path distance values. The algorithms which algorithms which are used for path finding can be regarded
are used in this paper are, Genetic Algorithm (GA), as, artificial potential field with fuzzy logic [2] and integrated
Bidirectional Rapidly-Exploring Random Tree (BRRT) particle swarm optimization [3].
algorithm and Potential Field algorithm. According to the
simulation results which are obtained based on MATLAB The main contributions of this paper can be considered as,
simulation, the performance of the designed potential field comparing GA, BRRT and Potential Field path-planning
algorithm is better than the other ones in terms of processing algorithms in order to find a high performance path-planning
time and the path distance values. Indeed, the designed potential algorithm in terms of process time and the path distance values
field algorithm is considered as the one that is chosen to be used to use in vision based control process and finally
in vision based control process. The proposed process is used to implementing the aforementioned vision based control
path finding for a spherical rolling robot, which is named TSR. methods in a spherical rolling robot.
A fixed camera on top of the proposed robot’s workspace is
connected to a laptop, which is used as the main core of vision The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. First,
based control processor unit. The experimental results based on three path-planning algorithms are presented and compared.
implementing the potential field approach as path planning In Section 2, the vision based control procedure is presented.
algorithm, verified the desirable performance of it in terms of Finally, the experimental results of implementation of the
finding a short and accurate path in an acceptable time. Finally, proposed vision based control method is presented.
the effect of using the proposed vision based control method is
assessed. The experimental results based on combining the
aforementioned control methods verified the significant
performance of the propounded spherical rolling robot in terms II. PATH PLANNING ALGORITHMS
of path finding and following. Finding path, especially a short path between the source
and goal points is one of the main issues of mobile robots,
Keywords— Path planning ; Potential Field ; Bidirectional which has direct relation with time and energy saving. In this
Rapidly-Exploring Random Tree (BRRT) algorithm ; vision based
section three designed and implemented path planning
control ; Spherical rolling robot
algorithms are investigated and compared with each other in
terms of the computational time for calculating the path
distance value and distance value of the obtained path.
In recent decades the widespread applications of mobile A. Genetic Algorithm
robots as a helpful device in solving different problems in Genetic Algorithm is a randomized searching policy via
various applications has stimulated the interests of many applying an evolutionary optimization method on the laws of
researchers and involved people in industry. One of the biological selection to solve any possible optimization
applicable mobile robots is spherical rolling robot. The natural problem. In GA approach, every solution to an optimization
characteristics of the spherical rolling robots in terms of problem is considered as an individual with unique
moving in any directions with the lowest demand to change characteristics which can be encoded into a finite set of
the robot’s position make them so useful [1]. parameters, or in other words genes or genetic information.
These genetic information or gens that make up chromosomes
One of the main challenges of the mobile robots consists can form a population function and fitness function which is
in their path planning and obstacle avoidance techniques. The used to estimate the real world structure of individuals in these

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population. In this method, a series of generations are used in path is completed. The pseudo code for the bi-directional RRT
order to evolve population S of P individuals to find the best algorithm is shown in Algorithm 1.
and fittest individual to solve a particular problem. Each set of
solutions is called a population or generation and each
individual solution is called a chromosome. A fitness function
is defined to determine the fitness of each individual which
evaluates the aptitude level of a particular individual to solve
the optimization problem. Genetic operators produce a new
set of individuals from each generation in every genetic search
process. Each chromosome in the population serves as a
feasible path which can be used in robot path planning. This
path should be continuous and does not contain obstacles.
Generally, the chromosome or path is expressed by source,
goal and intermediate positions. These positions represent
genes of the chromosomes. The evolution starts from a
population of randomly generated chromosomes and has four
basic steps. Fitness evaluation, selection, cross over and
mutation in order to create the next generations. The
steps of a GA can be considered as follows [4]:
1) Initialize random population;
2) Calculate the Fitness members of population;
3) Select populations members based on the described
rules and limitations;
4) Generate new chromosomes by making the population
which are selected in certain probability;
5) Investigate the optimal conditions until the maximum
iteration is reached and get the minimum values if they
provide conditions;

B. Bidirectional Rapidly-Exploring Random Tree


Rapidly-Exploring Random Tree method is a path

planning algorithm based on sampling method and usually is
used in the cases which the prior data about the workspace is
not adequate. The RRT algorithm, starting from an initial
Algorithm 1: The BRRT pseudo code for detecting obstacles
node , selects random samples from the obstacle free and path planning.
space and searches for the closest neighbor path on the tree or
another new random sample [5], [6]. The RRT algorithm
approach expands a particular incrementally method, the C. Potential Field Algorithm
starting point of the free space is considered as a root and then
the algorithm generates extension branches of trees randomly Potential Field method is working on the basis of attractive
through a slow growth of leaf points and it ends when the leaf potential field due to the goal and repulsive potential field due
point of random extension trees reaches the target or goal to the obstacles. Eventually, summation of attractive and
point. repulsive potential exhibits the current potential field of the
Bi-directional variation of sampling based algorithms are robot. Subsequently, the replacement vector is obtained from
often applied to problems with challenging and difficult the gradient of aforementioned summation. Obstacles are
spaces such as narrow aisles or high dimensional presumed as the global maxima and the goal position is
configuration spaces with numerous obstacles. The bi- considered as the global minimum. Moreover, the potential
directional RRT approach grows a tree from start position and field is assumed as the workspace of robot. However, this
a second tree from the goal position. In addition, the BRRT method has some drawbacks as well such as, existence of
algorithm extends incrementally both trees toward random some trap circumstances due to local minimal, lack of passage
samples. Moreover, in the bi-directional RRT algorithm the between closed space obstacles and also vibrations in the
trees alternate between moving towards random locations in presence of obstacles or even in limited aisles.
free obstacle space and moving towards each other until the

The total potential is obtained by summation of attractive and III. VISION BASED PATH PLANNING CONCEPT
repulsive potential. The attractive potential function, is According to the sensor installation limitation which is
described as follows [7]: caused based on the spherical shape of the TSR robot, the
| − | , | − |≤ vision based path planning based on potential field method is
( )= (1)
(2 | − | − ), | − |> chosen as a solution to control the under study spherical
rolling robot. In order to achieve a global image from the
Where d, x and are the distance between the robot and proposed robot’s workspace a camera is set on the ceiling, on
the goal, the robot and goal position vector, respectively. The top of the robot’s workspace.
variable ξ in Eq. (1) is the attraction gain coefficient. The
gradient of the Eq. (1) is attractive force which is obtained as
follows: TABLE I: The proposed GA, BRRT and potential field algorithms
performance in terms of processing time and obtained path distance.
2 ( − ), | − |≤
( ) = −∇ = (2) Algorithm Time(A) Distance(A) Time(B) Distance(B)
2 | , | − |>
| GA 5.165006e+0 1716 2.372744 1671
2 e+01
The repulsive potential function is defined as follows:
BRRT 4.139758e+0 1.578909e+0 4.884343 2.639219e+0
Υ( − ) , δ≤δ 0 3 e+00 3
( )= (3)
0 , δ>δ Potential 3.924764e+0 1.523337e+0 1.825863 1.631966e+0
field 0 3 e+00 3
Where is the repulsive potential function and Υ, δ and
δ are the repulsive gain, the limit distance of potential field
influence and the shortest distance to the obstacle,
Derivative of Eq. (3) results in the repulsive force. By
considering as the repulsive force, one has:

Υ( − ) , δ≤δ
( ) = −∇ = (4)
0 , δ>δ
By considering Eqs. (2) and (4) The generalized force F(x)
is calculated as follows:
( ) = − ∇U(x) = −∇ −∇ = ( )+
( ) (5)
The pseudo code for the Potential field algorithm is shown in

D. Comparison Between GA, BRRT and Potential Field

The aforesaid GA, BRRT and potential field algorithms
simulated in MATLAB software. The results of the proposed
simulation based on three different maps are presented in
Figs. 1 and 2. Table I represents the comparison between the
proposed GA, BRRT and potential field algorithms’
performance in terms of processing time and obtained path
distance. According to the simulation results, which are
obtained based on the proposed algorithms, the potential field
algorithm has a better performance in terms of processing time and
the path distance.
Figure 3 represents the camera’s installation location and
Algorithm 2: The pseudocode representing detecting
the robot’s workspace. The obstacles which are set on the obstacles and obstacle labeling process.
robot’s workspace are static and they do not move and

(a) The path which is found based on GA.
(a) The path which is found based on GA.

(b) The path which is found based on BRRT algorithm.

(b) The path which is found based on BRRT algorithm.

(c) The path which is found based on potential field

(c) The path which is found based on potential field algorithm.
Fig. 2: The paths which are found based on GA, BRRT and
Fig. 1: The paths which are found based on GA, BRRT and potential field algorithms for the second designed map.
potential field algorithms for the first designed map.

Figures 4 represents the process of the first and second test

for finding the short path based on potential field algorithm
which is designed in this project. According to Figs. 4, firstly,
the obstacles are detected then the short path between the
source and goal points is calculated and depicted.
Figure 5 illustrates the path which is defined based on
potential field and the robot’s movement on the proposed path.
According to Fig. 5, the proposed robot tracks the path based
on vision control.
In this paper, GA, BRRT and Potential Field algorithms
were investigated and the comparison results of them in terms
of processing time and distance value were presented. Based
on the obtained results of latter simulation, the potential
field algorithm had better performance. Moreover, in order
to compensate the weakness of the under study spherical
rolling robot in terms of impossibility of setting sensors on the
spherical shell of the robot, vision based control method was
used. The experimental results validate the high performance
Fig. 3: The camera’s installation location and robot’s workspace of the proposed method about path tracking and obstacle
which can be detected with the proposed camera. avoidance.

(c) 4s.

(a) Attractive potential field circle center.

(d) 6s.

(b) Repulsive potential field.

(e) 8s.

(c) Summary of potential field.

(f) 10s.
Fig. 5: Process of the experimental test in obstacle detection, numbering
and short path defining based on potential field for the TSR spherical rolling


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