7R4. Fundamentals of Robotics: Linking Perception to Action. Series in Machine Perception and Artificial Intelligence. Edited by Ming Xie (Singapore–MIT Alliance, Singapore). World Sci Publ, Singapore. 2003. 692 pp. ISBN 981-238-313-1.

Reviewed by RL Huston (Dept of Mech, Indust, and Nucl Eng, Univ of Cincinnati, PO Box 210072, Cincinnati OH 45221-0072).

This book is probably best described as a contemporary reference describing the state-of-the-art of robotics, at this time. It is a truly impressive volume where the author documents the many significant robotic advances during the last quarter century and also looks to the future.

The book discusses the broad range of robotics technology ranging from mechanical considerations, to electrical and electronics devices, to control, to vision, to decision-making and artificial intelligence. The book is intended for students, for those just getting started in the field, and for experienced practitioners.

The book has three underlying themes: 1) A presentation of the fundamental underlying physics and associated analytical procedures; 2) Thinking of robotics from a systems perspective; and 3) Treating the entire subject tutorially. Throughout the book the author presents the physical principles, the mathematical analysis, applications, and illustrative examples. In many instances he provides extensive explanations of particular aspects of the technology, including design considerations. At all times, the focus is upon viewing a robot as a complex system incorporating a wide variety of technologies, but principally electro-mechanical-control and decision making.

The book itself is divided into nine chapters spanning approximately 700 pages. Chapter 1 provides a brief introduction to the subject outlining the various applications of robots ranging from the industrial/manufacturing setting to the household environment. Contained therein is an interesting discussion about humanoid robots. The author also summarizes the principal issues and problems in robotics technology.

The second and third chapters are devoted to mechanical issues such as kinematics (position displacement, rotation, and velocity), mechanisms, joints, and chains. Both forward and inverse kinematics is discussed. The fourth chapter then considers robot dynamics, motors, and drive devices.

Control issues are studied in Chapter 5. The ensuing topics include automatic feedback systems, control elements, sensing elements, design consideration, algorithms, and joint-, task-, and image-space control.

In the next three chapters the author discusses information systems, visual sensory systems, and visual perception systems of robots. Chapter 9 is devoted to decision-making, including issues of planning, mapping, constraints, and control. The book concludes with a very brief chapter on future expectations.

Each chapter contains examples, exercises, and a bibliography.

The author is to be commended for the ambitious undertaking of trying to incorporate all these topics into a single volume. The finished product is impressive. The writing is good and the examples are clear and informative. There are of course many places where prior knowledge and expertise are needed to fully benefit from the discussion. On balance, however, Fundamentals of Robotics: Linking Perception to Action should be of interest and use to those either working in robotics, hoping to enter the field, or those simply having a curiosity about the subject matter. Purchase is recommended both for individuals and libraries.