IEEE 7th International Conference on Intelligent Engineering Systems March 4-6, 2003

Behaviour Based Control in the Microrobotics
Ádám Helybély
Budapest University of Technology and Economics Budapest, Hungary hadam@iit.bme.hu
Abstract – Behaviour based control is gaining popularity in the field of multi-agent control. This article presents an example of behaviour based control in a micromanipulation working cell. After an overview of behaviour based control the details of a problem and the specifics of the micromanipulator system will be given. Then our algorithm will be explained. In closing I will summarize the application results and conclusions.

András Lassó
Budapest University of Technology and Economics Budapest, Hungary lasso@iit.bme.hu complicated behaviour. The arbiter may respect the fitness value received from the behaviour modules or organise the patterns into a hierarchy.
Behaviour Behaviour

Arbiter

Sensory Input

Behaviour Behaviour Behaviour

Output

I.

INTRODUCTION

Control of multi-agent systems was always a special topic in control theory. Behaviour based control presents a an alternative on the traditional methods. In this article we will show an example of the behaviour based discipline applied in a specialised, multi-agent, micromanipulation environment. In the last few years there was a huge development in the microbiological and biotechnological sciences. The ongoing microrobotical research at the Department of Process Control and Information Technology provided an optimal base to develop a universal microbiologicalbiotechnological working cell. Lately the multi-agent extension of the workstation became possible, and the need for an adequate control system was emerging. Behaviour based control offered itself as the perfect choice, as it is well suited for controlling multiple agents in a possibly changing environment. In the first part of our article we will give a short summary of behaviour based control, the specifics of the applied micromanipulation system and the goals. We will discuss the algorithm in detail, and close with the application results. II. BEHAVIOUR BASED CONTROL [1]

Fig. 1. Behaviour based control architecture

The behaviour patterns must be chosen and tuned carefully to ensure the achievement of the system’s goals and always present a safe alternative. It is the arbiter’s responsibility to combine the behaviour patterns so, that the robot works in a safe and efficient manner. The different architectures are different in how they recognise a situation and how they select the relevant behaviour. III. THE MINISTER SYSTEM

The MiniSteR is a general purpose micromanipulation working cell. It consists of a microrobot, sophisticated sensor system and a layered control structure. Originally it was developed by Vajda and Vogel [2] for biomedical purposes, but their design had much more potential and minor modifications enabled the system for educational, demonstrational and research applications. A. The microrobot

A behaviour based system has two types of components: behaviour patterns and an arbiter. Behaviour patterns are simple excitation-response functions, like slowing down near obstacles. The arbiter determines the robot’s actions selecting the most appropriate pattern or combination. Each behaviour module receives the sensory input, and generates it’s own response based on the behaviour pattern it implements. They may also produce a fitness value (a measure of how adequate a behaviour is in the actual situation) aiding the arbiter in choosing the best pattern. The arbiter’s task is more complicated. It either selects a single behaviour pattern and connects it to the output, or blends certain patterns together to form a more

The MiniSteR working cell uses the microrobot developed by the Department of Control Engineering and Information Technology in cooperation with Technical University of Karlsruhe supported by the Volkswagen Foundation. The robot has three piezo-electric legs, and uses the stick-and-slip principle to move. The legs are piezoceramic tubes. Each leg has five electrodes attached, one in the central axis, and four along the outer surface of the cylinder. By applying different voltages to the different electrodes, the legs can be bent in any directions, or can be lengthened or shortened slightly. The motion of the robot was studied and mathematically modelled by Felso [3].

The Sensor System. etc. Mirror The individual steps of the robot are in the micrometer domain. Microrobot Fig. 5. The intelligent camera with matching colour filter attached is measuring the position and orientation of the robot based on the image of the LEDs. This method provides a resolution in the millimetre domain. Sensor System Because of the relatively large work area of the system compared to the required accuracy a multi level sensor system was implemented. DSP and digital communications facilities) is applied. the manipulator can be moved less accurately than the robot body. For this reason the manipulator is only moved to set a certain orientation relative to the robot body. cause significant changes in the motion. The stick and slip principle Fig. The motion principle and small step size make the robot extremely sensible to surface conditions.IEEE 7th International Conference on Intelligent Engineering Systems March 4-6.7-2 micrometer. so the legs slip forward. Three piezo-electric legs keep the ball in place. The relative weight of the wires compared to the robot is significant. On the transport level an intelligent camera (a black and white CCD camera with built in frame-grabber. Because of the length of the manipulator. so the global sensor system could be mounted under the working surface. The inertia of the robot body cannot keep up with the sudden movement of the legs. Fig. and then the robot is moved during actual micromanipulation. By splitting the work area into transport domain and micromanipulation domain the cost of the sensor system could be decreased significantly. 2. The slightest deviations in the surface quality. With the three legs the robot can move the manipulator very much like a clown can walk on a ball. This makes the system modular. The possible movements of the robot . Then the cycle repeats. The microrobot To move the robot body the legs are slowly bent backward. fingerprints. Then the legs are quickly bent backward. C. this causes to move the robot forward. With image processing algorithms the location of the micromanipulator can be identified. By using a zoomable microscope we can influence the tradeoff between the possible accuracy and the size of the area. 3. water drops. which is attracted to the robot using a permanent magnet. Each level builds on the top of the underlying ones. The robot is A camera is mounted on the microscope and transmits the image to a computer. which is under the field of view of a microscope. 4. Camera Microscope Fig. around 0. Control System The MiniSteR working cell incorporates a three layer hierarchical control system. and is functional without the upper ones. Power and control signals are conducted to the robot by wire currently. Multiple micromanipulation zones can be implemented by multiple microscopes or simply moving the microscope or the working area with an X-Y table. and makes the control of the robot even harder. This is more than adequate to navigate the robot into the micro-manipulation area. B. The micromanipulator is attached to a steel ball. three LEDs are attached to the underside of the robot body. 2003 equipped with active markers. Based on mechanical considerations the robot is moving on a glass surface. dust particles.

so if a robot contacted with one of the materials. · Given the size and position of the barriers it is possible for the robots to reach any destinations and sources. Robots try to choose the nearest destination if they carry more material than the half of their capacity or carry enough material to fill the destination. V. and found that the transportation of precise quantities of different materials into several small destinations was a common subtask in their application areas.6. (The cable-operated robots were not suitable for multi-agent operation as the wires would interfere with each other. The simulator IV. We have consulted with a number of biotechnological and microbiological experts. However we omitted this separation in the simulation because it is reasonable to assume. The most important development is the realisation of wireless robots. · There are a number of source containers with enough supplies to carry out the task. the control algorithm was implemented and tested mainly on a simulator. Communication is considered to be perfect both between the individual agents and the central control unit. These decisions may happen in any order as long as they are serialized. Resource allocation Initially and when a robot finishes a subtask it chooses a new target based on its position and amount of carried material. which falls outside of our scope. so other robots can note its decision. and can dispense the required amount when positioned into the destination zone. to move the robot into one of eight possible directions or turn it left or right. There is no need to refill the robots internal container after every dosage.) Because these developments were not available until the point of this paper. unless its . Only navigation could be tested on the actual system. D. · Apart from the destinations. namely to dosage certain materials into different target areas. B. THE GOAL Our goal was to carry out a generalized micromanipulation task. performs local user interaction or telerobotic [4] functions. The wireless robots offer an opportunity of the multiagent extension of the system. For every destination there is a list of the type and quantity of the required materials. They choose the nearest source otherwise. there may be a number of obstacles in the working area. Navigation The position of the robots is determined by the twolevel sensor system. manipulator has been treated properly. · The robots cannot collide with the static barriers or each other · One robot can only carry one type of material during the course of the task. The robot could be equipped with a micromanipulation tool. Extensions There are a number of new options in different phases of development. which were assumed to be applicable. which can hold a limited quantity of the material to be transported. sources and robots. number of steps) are variable. then it cannot carry other materials. The middle level performs closed-loop control using the information from the intelligent camera system. and the destinations are in the field of view of the microscope(s). Because of the underlying communications architecture it can be safely assumed. that the sources are large enough.IEEE 7th International Conference on Intelligent Engineering Systems March 4-6. The different materials cannot mix on the micromanipulator. If the robot has decided to head towards a destination it informs the other agents about his intent and carried material amount and type. THE ALGORITHM [5] During the design of the control algorithm two problems had to be addressed: · Breaking the task into smaller subtasks and assigning them to the different agents. Ongoing research showed that the lower control layer can be integrated into the microrobot using lightweight Li-polymer batteries and infrared communications. · Ensuring that the individual agents perform their task successfully and they do not obstruct each other. The operator has to assign the robots to the material type they are allowed to carry. Fig. that each robot knows its own and all other agents position. It understands commands to stop. The parameters of the movements (speed. The upper level processes the microscope image. 2003 The lower level provides amplified control signals to the individual legs. A. that the robots can approach it using transport level sensor input only. So we defined the micromanipulation task as follows: · There are destination zones.

and then they go straight out of the work area.4 1. We defined four behaviour patterns in the system. C. 2001 [3] Fels Gábor: “Theory of the motion principle of a piezoelectric driven microrobot”.4 371. 26-28th May 2002 [2] Vogel Miklós. making them travel far longer distances than required. Fine tuning There are a number of parameters to adjust in this system. Three of them assign weights to the eight possible directions.2 482. This can be slightly improved by adjusting the distance-weight function. If the first behaviour is too strong. Simulation results proved our algorithm successful in reaching the goal effectively. Opatia.3 401. Our algorithm provided a simple and robust control architecture. Croatia. d) Behaviour 4 Table 1 shows the time needed to complete a sample task in different configurations.Urbancsek Tamás. Real life applications with one robot were successful.2. [5] Urbancsek Tamás. March. c) Behaviour 3 Table 1. but in certain cases robots begin to oscillate around barriers and each other. . VIII. To make them think in advance a little. 2000 [4] Lassó András. Periodica Polytechnica. Diploma work. Helybély Ádám: “Viselkedésorientált vezérlés miniatürizált robotrendszerek els sorban mikrobiológiai felhasználásra” (“Micromanipulators for microbiological applications with behaviour-based control”). BUTE. 2003 The robots approach their destination in two phases. b) Behaviour 2 This rule disables a direction if heading that way would cause the robot to collide with something.3 1. a) Behaviour 1 VI. 2000. With the addition of this rule the system is well functioning. using a few behaviour pattern The performance of the system depends heavily on the parameters of the algorithm. The first two rules give a working system usually. the other optimizing behaviours cannot affect the motion of the robot. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the Hungarian National Science Foundation (OTKA T 029072). and one of them disables certain directions in given situations. By handicapping directions leading towards obstacles the robots try to avoid them sooner. and then they adjust their orientation to face the target. Behaviour based control proved excellent in handling a multi-agent system in demanding conditions and helped effectively address the problem of agent cooperation. BUTE.3 855. which therefore need to be chosen carefully.2. Rules 1. Electrical Engineering. they begin to avoid it nicely.3. When behaviour 3 dominates. but real multi agent testing is still waiting. Simulation results (sec) Decrease the robots tendency to oscillate by preferring the direction (or one of its neighbours) they choose before. we introduced an additional behaviour.IEEE 7th International Conference on Intelligent Engineering Systems March 4-6. Miskolc.4 559. Faculty of of Electrical Engineering and Informatics. MicroCAD 2001. The most important being the relative weights of the different behaviours. BUTE BME.9 This rule keeps the robot going toward its target by assigning weights to the directions based on “how much they point” toward the target. robots cannot turn.3 393. 44/3. The only shortcoming we noticed is that robots head straight ahead into barriers and only when behaviour 2 stops them. Directions pointing away from the target get negative weights. To overcome this situation Behaviour 3 was introduced. [1] Helybély Ádám. Faculty of of Electrical Engineering and Informatics. The robots avoid obstacles and each other. Behaviour 4 keeps the robots away from any obstacles. First they approach it physically avoiding barriers and each other. The exact amount is calculated based on the distances to obstacles. As robots get closer to obstacles the subtracted value gets higher. Student Research Society. CONCLUSIONS Recent technological advances enabled the multi-agent extension of the MiniSteR micromanipulation working cell. which indicated the need of a state-of-the-art control architecture.2 D func. VII. Hungary. Vajda Ferenc: “Miniatürizált robotrendszerek fejlesztése mikrobiológiai laboratóriumok számára” (“Developing miniaturised robot-systems for microrobotic laboratories”). Vajda Ferenc: “Behaviour based robot control in the microrobotics”.2 841. of the INES 2002 International IEEE Conference on Intelligent Engineering Systems. by adding negative weights to them. They head into the first obstacle.Proc. 2001. x2 Number of Robots 2 4 6 859.6 500. pp 227239. REFERENCES Slightly decreases the weights of directions that point toward obstacles. Helybély Ádám: Microrobot teleoperation through WWW. rule 2 stops them.