Section: Scientific Foundations


COPRIN has a long-standing tradition of robotics studies, especially for closed-loop robots [4] . We address theoretical issues with the purpose of obtaining analytical and theoretical solutions, but in many cases only numerical solutions can be obtained due to the complexity of the problem. This approach has motivated the use of interval analysis for two reasons:

  1. the versatility of interval analysis allows us to address issues (e.g. singularity analysis) that cannot be tackled by any other method due to the size of the problem

  2. uncertainties (which are inherent to a robotic device) have to be taken into account so that the real robot is guaranteed to have the same properties as the theoretical one, even in the worst case. This is a crucial issue for many applications in robotics (e.g. medical robot)

Our field of study in robotics focuses on kinematic issues [17] such as workspace and singularity analysis [24] , positioning accuracy, trajectory planning, reliability, modularity management and, prominently, appropriate design, i.e. determining the dimensioning of a robot mechanical architecture that guarantees that the real robot satisfies a given set of requirements [10] . The methods that we develop can be used for other robotic problems, see for example the management of uncertainties in aircraft design [32] , [31] .

Our theoretical work must be validated through experiments that are essential for the sake of credibility. A contrario, experiments will feed theoretical work. Hence COPRIN works with partners on the development of real robots, and also develops its own prototypes. We usually develop a new prototype every 6 years but since 2008 we have started the development of four new prototypes, mostly related to assistance robotics. We benefit here from the development of new miniature, low energy computers with an interface for analog and logical sensors such as the Arduino or the Phidgets. We intend to make a full use of such devices, especially for assistance purpose

In term of applications we have focused up to now on the development of special machines (machine-tool, ultra-high accuracy positioning device, spatial telescope). Although this activity will be pursued, we have started in 2008 a long-term move toward service robotics, i.e. robots that are closer to human activity. In service robotics we are interested in domotics, smart objects, rehabilitation and medical robots [9] , [16] , [23] , [19] , [20] and entertainment, that can be regrouped under the name of assistance robotics (see section  6.1.5 ). Compared to special machines for which pricing is not an issue (up to a certain point), cost is an important element for assistance robotics. While we plan to develop simple robotic systems using only standard hardware, our work will focus on a different issue: the management of the robot modularity. The mechanical modularity of a robot is obtained by allowing one to change the arrangement of the robot's elements (whose cost may be quite low) so that it is most appropriate for the task. Many such mechanically modular robots are available (or can be designed at will) but finding the right arrangement of the hardware to fulfill the task requirements in spite of mechanical and control uncertainties is an open problem with no known algorithmic solution. The development of such algorithms is our long term goal.