Way back in the last millennium, 1989 to be precise, Robot Dynamics and Control was published. It contained a classical look at robot manipulator control. Emphasis was clearly on an analogue control systems viewpoint. Despite lacking in coverage of the digital/computer control methods widely encountered with robots in practice, it was a thorough, well-researched text and was taken up for numerous undergraduate courses.
Robot Modelling and Control is an attempt to modernise and freshen up the original. New chapters on motion planning and computer vision have appeared. It is also claimed that the original chapters have been "expanded and improved" -this, I fear, is for the most part something of an exaggeration.
In the book, a robot is defined as "a reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator... for the performance of a variety of tasks". So we are not looking here at walking robots or autonomous vehicles. Despite that, the book does occasionally offer some nice descriptions, such as a unicycle and a hopping robot. The emphasis is always distinctly on the underlying control system, however.
At the end of chapter six, we are told that "virtually all robot control systems are implemented digitally", yet the book contains no coverage whatsoever of this. Indeed, this presents a considerable problem for the new material on computer vision, which is inherently digital and has had to be shoehorned into place. I was disappointed that no coverage was given of other robot sensors, such as ultrasonic and infrared. Yet the text is, from a control perspective, very well written and presented, and is sprinkled with rather neat examples.
This book is aimed at undergraduate students with a strong mathematical basis taking a course in analogue robot control. It contains mainly classical control material and has evolved gracefully from its original version.
Kevin Warwick is professor of cybernetics, Reading University.
Robot Modelling and Control. First Edition
Author - Mark Spong, Seth Hutchinson and M. Vidyasagar
Publisher - John Wiley
Pages - 478
Price - £60.95
ISBN - 0 471 64990 2