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uBot-5 with prototype spherical hands

The uBot-5 is a small and lightweight research platform for mobile manipulation. It was designed to be an economical robot that is highly capable, durable, and safe to operate. The uBot-5 is dynamically stable, using two wheels in a differential drive configuration for mobility. Dynamically stable robots are well suited to environments designed for humans where both a high center of mass and a small footprint are often required. In the case of the uBot-5, which behaves much like an inverted pendulum, active stabilization becomes easier as the robot (and thus the center of mass) becomes taller. The uBot-5 can also employ whole body postural control afforded by its dynamically stable configuration to generate greater pushing and pulling forces than are possible on an equivalent statically stable platform.

Technical Information

The uBot-5 was designed and built from scratch at the Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics. The robot has 11-dof, 4 in each arm, two wheels, and a rotating trunk. Each joint is actuated using Micromo coreless DC motors. Power is provided by six A123 racing packs. The platform is equiped with a PC/104+ based Pentium computer for high level computation and wireless connectivity. Low level control is provided by a custom 12-channel FPGA based servo controller. The FPGA can update the positions/velocities of all motors at more than 2kHz. An embedded PowerPC core provides low-latency RAW ethernet connectivity and manages low-level reflexes such as balancing and transitions between postural modes. The robot has three heads which can be interchanged depending on the application: a pan/tilt head with stereo cameras, a 8.4" LCD touchscreen with speakers, and a fixed ASUS Xtion PRO.

All the Solidworks models for uBot parts are available upon request.

Research Videos

Selected Publications

  1. Choe, Y., Jung, H., Baird, J., and Grupen, R. A. Multidisciplinary Stroke Rehabilitation Delivered by a Humanoid Robot: Interaction between Speech and Physical Therapies. Aphasiology 27(3), pages 252-270, February 2013.
  2. Kuindersma, S., Grupen, R., and Barto, A. Variational Bayesian Optimization for Runtime Risk-Sensitive Control. In Robotics: Science and Systems VIII (RSS), Sydney, Australia, July 2012.
  3. Kuindersma, S., Grupen, R., and Barto, A. Variable Risk Dynamic Mobile Manipulation. In RSS 2012 Mobile Manipulation Workshop, Sydney, Australia, July 2012.
  4. Jung, H., Choe, Y., Baird, J., and Grupen, R. A. A Follow-Up on Humanoid-Mediated Stroke Physical Rehabilitation (late-breaking results). In Proceedings of the 7th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), Boston, MA, March 2012.
  5. Konidaris, G.D., Kuindersma, S.R., Grupen, R.A., Barto, A.G. Robot Learning from Demonstration by Constructing Skill Trees. The International Journal of Robotics Research 31(3), pages 360-375, March 2012.
  6. Kuindersma, S., Grupen, R., and Barto, A. Learning Dynamic Arm Motions for Postural Recovery. In Proceedings of the 11th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots. Bled, Slovenia, October 2011.
  7. Xie, D., Lin, Y., Grupen, R., and Hanson, A. Intention-Based Coordination and Interface Design for Human-Robot Cooperative Search. In Proceedings of the 2011 International Conference on Robotics and Systems (IROS), San Francisco, California, September, 2011.
  8. Konidaris, G., Kuindersma, S., Grupen, R., and Barto, A. Autonomous Skill Acquisition on a Mobile Manipulator. In Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-11), pages 1468-1473, San Francisco, CA, August 2011.
  9. Jung, H., Baird, J., Choe, Y., and Grupen, R. A. Upper Extremity Physical Therapy for Stroke Patients using a General Purpose Robot. In Proceedings of the 20th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), Atlanta, GA, August 2011.
  10. Jung, H., Baird, J., Choe, Y., and Grupen, R. A. Upper-Limb Exercises for Stroke Patients through the Direct Engagement of an Embodied Agent (late-breaking results). In Proceedings of the 6th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), Lausanne, Switzerland, March 2011.
  11. Konidaris, G., Kuindersma, S., Barto, A., and Grupen, R. Constructing Skill Trees for Reinforcement Learning Agents from Demonstration Trajectories. In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 23 (NIPS). Vancouver, BC, December 2010.
  12. Kuindersma, S., Konidaris, G., Grupen, R., and Barto, A. Learning from a Single Demonstration: Motion Planning with Skill Segmentation (extended abstract). NIPS Workshop on Learning and Planning from Batch Time Series Data, Whistler, BC. December 2010.
  13. Kuindersma, S., Control Model Learning for Whole-Body Mobile Manipulation (extended abstract). In Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-10), Atlanta, Georgia, USA. July 2010.
  14. Kuindersma, S., Hannigan, E., Ruiken, D., and Grupen, R. Dexterous Mobility with the uBot-5 Mobile Manipulator, In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR). Munich, Germany. June, 2009.
  15. Hannigan, E., Endpoint Force Sensing for Mobile Manipulators, Masters Thesis, Department of Computer Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst, September 2008.
  16. Deegan, P. Grupen, R., Hanson, A., Horrell, E., Ou, S., Riseman, E., Sen, S., Thibodeau, B., Williams, A., Xie, D. Mobile Manipulators for Assisted Living in Residential Settings, Autonomous Robots, 24(2), p. 179-192, 2007.
  17. Deegan, P., Thibodeau, B., Grupen, R. Designing a Self-Stabilizing Robot For Dynamic Mobile Manipulation, Robotics: Science and Systems - Workshop on Manipulation for Human Environments, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 2006.
  18. Thibodeau, B., Deegan, P., Grupen, R. Static Analysis of Contact Forces With a Mobile Manipulator, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Orlando, Florida, May 2006.


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News and Press

Daily Hampshire Gazette (04/08/13)

Daily Hampshire Gazette online (04/07/13) UMass robot aids stroke victim with speech and movement

Daily Collegian (03/29/13) Therapy robot developed at UMass has successful first test run

CNET (03/21/13) Stroke patient gets by with a little help from a bot

newswise (03/20/13) Robot-Delivered Speech and Physical Therapy a Success in UMass Amherst Test

News & Media Relations, UMass (03/20/13) Robot-Delivered Speech and Physical Therapy a Success in UMass Amherst Test

Research Next, UMass (03/13/13) Building Smart Robots - Scientists explore use of robots to aid recovery from stroke

In the Loop, UMass (09/06/12) Study explores use of robots to aid recovery from stroke

Video demonstrating autonomous skill acquisition with the uBot-5 wins the AAAI-11 Best Student Video award. The video can be watched here.

Robot Magazine: http://find.botmag.com/021187

NewScientist article covering the Robot Exhibition at IJCAI 2009 in Pasadena, CA.

Fox News (12/10/08) uBot: Technology to Help Aging Baby Boomers

Newsweek (8/8/08) Why Should We Be Friends? As Japan builds a new generation of robot companions, U.S. firms focus on pragmatics.

The uBot-5 participated in New Tech Demos at SIGGRAPH with the MIT MDS robot (Personal Robotics Group) 8/11/08 - 8/15/08: Humans meet their robot overlords at SIGGRAPH

Washington Post (8/5/08) Someone -- No, Some Thing -- to Watch Over You

CBS (7/8/08) WALL-E Robots Coming into Massachusetts Homes

ScienceCentral News (6/26/08) The Real WALL-E

Coverage of the appearance of the uBot-5 during Bill Gates' Keynote at the TechEd Conference in Orlando, FL (6/3/08):

A few of the recent articles covering healthcare applications developed on the uBot-5:

ComputerWorld (4/7/08) published a picture tour of the Microsoft Robotics Group: As robotics moves from the factory to the home, Microsoft is jumping on board and related article (4/10/08) Video: Has a robot revolution started, or is it still 20 years off?.

The Discover Magazine (1/8/08) reported on the Microsoft Robotics Studio group at CES 2008 in Las Vegas in the blog: Live from CES: A Robot in Every Home—Microsoft's High Hopes

The San Francisco Chronicle (12/9/07) also covered the Robo Development Conference and Expo: The Robots Among Us

Bryan talked about the uBot-5 in a video interview by VI Shots while at the 2007 RoboDevelopment Conference and Expo in San Jose.

Collaboration with the Personal Robotics Group at MIT, is covered by the New York Times Magazine (7/29/07): The Real Transformers