Computer Science - Robotics Publications (50)


Computer Science - Robotics Publications

This paper, the second of a two-part series, presents a method for mean-field feedback stabilization of a swarm of agents on a finite state space whose time evolution is modeled as a continuous time Markov chain (CTMC). The resulting (mean-field) control problem is that of controlling a nonlinear system with desired global stability properties. We first prove that any probability distribution with a strongly connected support can be stabilized using time-invariant inputs. Read More

Robot vision is a fundamental device for human-robot interaction and robot complex tasks. In this paper, we use Kinect and propose a feature graph fusion (FGF) for robot recognition. Our feature fusion utilizes RGB and depth information to construct fused feature from Kinect. Read More

In this paper, we study the controllability and stabilizability properties of the Kolmogorov forward equation of a continuous time Markov chain (CTMC) evolving on a finite state space, using the transition rates as the control parameters. Firstly, we prove small-time local and global controllability from and to strictly positive equilibrium configurations when the underlying graph is strongly connected. Secondly, we show that there always exists a locally exponentially stabilizing decentralized linear (density-)feedback law that takes zero valu at equilibrium and respects the graph structure, provided that the transition rates are allowed to be negative and the desired target density lies in the interior of the set of probability densities. Read More

How can we enable novice users to create effective task plans for collaborative robots? Must there be a tradeoff between generalizability and ease of use? To answer these questions, we conducted a user study with the CoSTAR system, which integrates perception and reasoning into a Behavior Tree-based task plan editor. In our study, we ask novice users to perform simple pick-and-place assembly tasks under varying perception and planning capabilities. Our study shows that users found Behavior Trees to be an effective way of specifying task plans. Read More

We consider task and motion planning in complex dynamic environments for problems expressed in terms of a set of Linear Temporal Logic (LTL) constraints, and a reward function. We propose a methodology based on reinforcement learning that employs deep neural networks to learn low-level control policies as well as task-level option policies. A major challenge in this setting, both for neural network approaches and classical planning, is the need to explore future worlds of a complex and interactive environment. Read More

We consider the problem of a robot learning the mechanical properties of objects through physical interaction with the object, and introduce a practical, data-efficient approach for identifying the motion models of these objects. The proposed method utilizes a physics engine, where the robot seeks to identify the inertial and friction parameters of the object by simulating its motion under different values of the parameters and identifying those that result in a simulation which matches the observed real motions. The problem is solved in a Bayesian optimization framework. Read More

In this paper we propose an algorithm for stabilizing circular formations of fixed-wing UAVs with constant speeds. The algorithm is based on the idea of tracking circles with different radii in order to control the inter-vehicle phases with respect to a target circumference. We prove that the desired equilibrium is exponentially stable and thanks to the guidance vector field that guides the vehicles, the algorithm can be extended to other closed trajectories. Read More

In order to perform autonomous sequential manipulation tasks, perception in cluttered scenes remains a critical challenge for robots. In this paper, we propose a probabilistic approach for robust sequential scene estimation and manipulation - Sequential Scene Understanding and Manipulation(SUM). SUM considers uncertainty due to discriminative object detection and recognition in the generative estimation of the most likely object poses maintained over time to achieve a robust estimation of the scene under heavy occlusions and unstructured environment. Read More

Solar power models are a crucial element of solar-powered UAV design and performance analysis. During the conceptual design phase, their accuracy directly relates to the accuracy of the predicted performance metrics and thus the final design characteristics of the solar-powered UAV. Likewise, during the operations phase of a solar-powered UAV accurate solar power income models are required to predict and assess the solar power system performance. Read More

Fast and safe navigation of dynamical systems through a priori unknown cluttered environments is vital to many applications of autonomous systems. However, trajectory planning for autonomous systems is computationally intensive, often requiring simplified dynamics that sacrifice safety and dynamic feasibility in order to plan efficiently. Conversely, safe trajectories can be computed using more sophisticated dynamic models, but this is typically too slow to be used for real-time planning. Read More

Existing simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms are not robust in challenging low-texture environments because there are only few salient features. The resulting sparse or semi-dense map also conveys little information for motion planning. Though some work utilize plane or scene layout for dense map regularization, they require decent state estimation from other sources. Read More

Imitation learning has been commonly applied to solve different tasks in isolation. This usually requires either careful feature engineering, or a significant number of samples. This is far from what we desire: ideally, robots should be able to learn from very few demonstrations of any given task, and instantly generalize to new situations of the same task, without requiring task-specific engineering. Read More

Many interesting natural phenomena are sparsely distributed and discrete. Locating the hotspots of such sparsely distributed phenomena is often difficult because their density gradient is likely to be very noisy. We present a novel approach to this search problem, where we model the co-occurrence relations between a robot's observations with a Bayesian nonparametric topic model. Read More

The most data-efficient algorithms for reinforcement learning (RL) in robotics are based on uncertain dynamical models: after each episode, they first learn a dynamical model of the robot, then they use an optimization algorithm to find a policy that maximizes the expected return given the model and its uncertainties. It is often believed that this optimization can be tractable only if analytical, gradient-based algorithms are used; however, these algorithms require using specific families of reward functions and policies, which greatly limits the flexibility of the overall approach. In this paper, we introduce a novel model-based RL algorithm, called Black-DROPS (Black-box Data-efficient RObot Policy Search) that: (1) does not impose any constraint on the reward function or the policy (they are treated as black-boxes), (2) is as data-efficient as the state-of-the-art algorithm for data-efficient RL in robotics, and (3) is as fast (or faster) than analytical approaches when several cores are available. Read More

Bridging the 'reality gap' that separates simulated robotics from experiments on hardware could accelerate robotic research through improved data availability. This paper explores domain randomization, a simple technique for training models on simulated images that transfer to real images by randomizing rendering in the simulator. With enough variability in the simulator, the real world may appear to the model as just another variation. Read More

We present a controller that allows an arm-like manipulator to navigate deformable cloth garments in simulation through the use of haptic information. The main challenge of such a controller is to avoid getting tangled in, tearing or punching through the deforming cloth. Our controller aggregates force information from a number of haptic-sensing spheres all along the manipulator for guidance. Read More

Cell injection is a technique in the domain of biological cell micro-manipulation for the delivery of small volumes of samples into the suspended or adherent cells. It has been widely applied in various areas, such as gene injection, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ISCI) and drug development. However, the existing manual and semi-automated cell injection systems require lengthy training and suffer from high probability of contamination and low success rate. Read More

This paper focuses on a passivity-based distributed reference governor (RG) applied to a pre-stabilized mobile robotic network. The novelty of this paper lies in the method used to solve the RG problem, where a passivity-based distributed optimization scheme is proposed. In particular, the gradient descent method minimizes the global objective function while the dual ascent method maximizes the Hamiltonian. Read More

In this paper, we develop a \textcolor{black}{\emph{distributed}} algorithm to localize a network of robots moving arbitrarily in a bounded region. In the case of such mobile networks, the main challenge is that the robots may not be able to find nearby robots to implement a distributed algorithm. We address this issue by providing an opportunistic algorithm that only implements a location update when there are nearby robots and does not update otherwise. Read More

Most visual odometry algorithm for a monocular camera focuses on points, either by feature matching, or direct alignment of pixel intensity, while ignoring a common but important geometry entity: edges. In this paper, we propose an odometry algorithm that combines points and edges to benefit from the advantages of both direct and feature based methods. It works better in texture-less environments and is also more robust to lighting changes and fast motion by increasing the convergence basin. Read More

This paper presents a novel approach for localising a GPS (Global Positioning System)-denied Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with the aid of a GPS-equipped UAV in three-dimensional space. The GPS-equipped UAV makes discrete-time broadcasts of its global coordinates. The GPS-denied UAV simultaneously receives the broadcast and takes direction of arrival (DOA) measurements towards the origin of the broadcast in its local coordinate frame (obtained via an inertial navigation system (INS)). Read More

This work suggests the estimation method developed in relation to the position of the robotic system (RS) operator, showing his degree of risk proneness. The base models are: Hurwitz pessimism/optimism criterion and decision trees. The problem is solved using the reverse setting: we estimate pessimism/optimism parameter of the operator (decision taker) by observing what decisions he makes when controlling the RS. Read More

In this paper, a novel lion strategy for David Gale's lion and man problem is proposed. The devised approach enhances a popular strategy proposed by Sgall, which relies on the computation of a suitable "center". The key idea of the new strategy is to update the center at each move, instead of computing it once and for all at the beginning of the game. Read More

This paper presents the first ever approach for solving \emph{continuous-observation} Decentralized Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes (Dec-POMDPs) and their semi-Markovian counterparts, Dec-POSMDPs. This contribution is especially important in robotics, where a vast number of sensors provide continuous observation data. A continuous-observation policy representation is introduced using Stochastic Kernel-based Finite State Automata (SK-FSAs). Read More

Robust environment perception is essential for decision-making on robots operating in complex domains. Intelligent task execution requires principled treatment of uncertainty sources in a robot's observation model. This is important not only for low-level observations (e. Read More

Electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are rapidly gaining popularity on our roads. Besides a comparatively high purchasing price, the main two problems limiting their use are the short driving range and inconvenient charging process. In this paper we address the following by presenting an automatic robot-based charging station with 3D vision guidance for plugging and unplugging the charger. Read More

Robotics enables a variety of unconventional actuation strategies to be used for endoscopes, resulting in reduced trauma to the GI tract. For transmission of force to distally mounted endoscopic instruments, robotically actuated tendon sheath mechanisms are the current state of the art. Robotics in surgical endoscopy enables an ergonomic mapping of the surgeon movements to remotely controlled slave arms, facilitating tissue manipulation. Read More

In this paper, we present a method to initialize at a feasible point and unfailingly solve a non-convex optimization problem in which a set-point motion is planned for a multi-link manipulator under state and control constraints. We construct an initial feasible solution by analyzing the final time effect for feasibility problems of flatness based motion planning problems. More specifically, we first find a feasible time-optimal trajectory under state constraints without a control constraint by solving a linear programming problem. Read More

One of the most efficient ways for a learning-based robotic arm to learn to process complex tasks as human, is to directly learn from observing how human complete those tasks, and then imitate. Our idea is based on success of Deep Q-Learning (DQN) algorithm according to reinforcement learning, and then extend to Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient (DDPG) algorithm. We developed a learning-based method, combining modified DDPG and visual imitation network. Read More

This paper focuses on developing new navigation and reconnaissance capabilities for cooperative unmanned systems in uncertain environments. The goal is to design a cooperative multi-vehicle system that can survey an unknown environment and find the most valuable route for personnel to travel. To accomplish the goal, the multi-vehicle system first explores spatially diverse routes and then selects the safest route. Read More

Acquiring the accurate 3-D position of a target person around a robot provides fundamental and valuable information that is applicable to a wide range of robotic tasks, including home service, navigation and entertainment. This paper presents a real-time robotic 3-D human tracking system which combines a monocular camera with an ultrasonic sensor by the extended Kalman filter (EKF). The proposed system consists of three sub-modules: monocular camera sensor tracking model, ultrasonic sensor tracking model and multi-sensor fusion. Read More

The increasing availability of online and mobile information platforms is facilitating the development of peer-to-peer collaboration strategies in large-scale networks. These technologies are being leveraged by networked robotic systems to provide applications of automated transport, resource redistribution (collaborative consumption), and location services. Yet, external observations of the system dynamics may expose sensitive information about the participants that compose these networks (robots, resources, and humans). Read More

This paper addresses recursive markerless estimation of a robot's end-effector using visual observations from its cameras. The problem is formulated into the Bayesian framework and addressed using Sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) filtering. We use a 3D rendering engine and Computer Aided Design (CAD) schematics of the robot to virtually create images from the robot's camera viewpoints. Read More

Urban transportation is being transformed by mobility-on-demand (MoD) systems. One of the goals of MoD systems is to provide personalized transportation services to passengers. This process is facilitated by a centralized operator that coordinates the assignment of vehicles to individual passengers, based on location data. Read More

This paper presents a novel approach to estimating the continuous six degree of freedom (6-DoF) pose (3D translation and rotation) of an object from a single RGB image. The approach combines semantic keypoints predicted by a convolutional network (convnet) with a deformable shape model. Unlike prior work, we are agnostic to whether the object is textured or textureless, as the convnet learns the optimal representation from the available training image data. Read More

We present a novel object detection pipeline for localization and recognition in three dimensional environments. Our approach makes use of an RGB-D sensor and combines state-of-the-art techniques from the robotics and computer vision communities to create a robust, real-time detection system. We focus specifically on solving the object detection problem for tabletop scenes, a common environment for assistive manipulators. Read More

Deep reinforcement learning is becoming increasingly popular for robot control algorithms, with the aim for a robot to self-learn useful feature representations from unstructured sensory input leading to the optimal actuation policy. In addition to sensors mounted on the robot, sensors might also be deployed in the environment, although these might need to be accessed via an unreliable wireless connection. In this paper, we demonstrate deep neural network architectures that are able to fuse information coming from multiple sensors and are robust to sensor failures at runtime. Read More

In this work, we study theoretical models of \emph{programmable matter} systems. The systems under consideration consist of spherical modules, kept together by magnetic forces and able to perform two minimal mechanical operations (or movements): \emph{rotate} around a neighbor and \emph{slide} over a line. In terms of modeling, there are $n$ nodes arranged in a 2-dimensional grid and forming some initial \emph{shape}. Read More

This paper presents a novel technique that allows for both computationally fast and sufficiently plausible simulation of vehicles with non-deformable tracks. The method is based on an effect we have called Contact Surface Motion. A comparison with several other methods for simulation of tracked vehicle dynamics is presented with the aim to evaluate methods that are available off-the-shelf or with minimum effort in general-purpose robotics simulators. Read More

Bayesian Optimisation has gained much popularity lately, as a global optimisation technique for functions that are expensive to evaluate or unknown a priori. While classical BO focuses on where to gather an observation next, it does not take into account practical constraints for a robotic system such as where it is physically possible to gather samples from, nor the sequential nature of the problem while executing a trajectory. In field robotics and other real-life situations, physical and trajectory constraints are inherent problems. Read More

We introduce a method for learning the dynamics of complex nonlinear systems based on deep generative models over temporal segments of states and actions. Unlike dynamics models that operate over individual discrete timesteps, we learn the distribution over future state trajectories conditioned on past state, past action, and planned future action trajectories, as well as a latent prior over action trajectories. Our approach is based on convolutional autoregressive models and variational autoencoders. Read More

Re-configurable modular robotic (RMR) systems are advantageous for their reconfigurability and versatility. A new modular robot can be built for a specific task by using modules as building blocks. However, constructing a kinematic model for a newly conceived robot requires significant work. Read More

3D object detection and pose estimation has been studied extensively in recent decades for its potential applications in robotics. However, there still remains challenges when we aim at detecting multiple objects while retaining low false positive rate in cluttered environments. This paper proposes a robust 3D object detection and pose estimation pipeline based on RGB-D images, which can detect multiple objects simultaneously while reducing false positives. Read More

Precise patient positioning during treatment of cancers of the head and neck region is fundamental to a successful clinical removal of malignant tumors. We propose a 3-DOF soft-robot position correcting system to correct head deviations along 3 axes. The robot consists of inflatable air bladders to move the head while ensuring patient safety and comfort. Read More

Our overall program objective is to provide more natural ways for soldiers to interact and communicate with robots, much like how soldiers communicate with other soldiers today. We describe how the Wizard-of-Oz (WOz) method can be applied to multimodal human-robot dialogue in a collaborative exploration task. While the WOz method can help design robot behaviors, traditional approaches place the burden of decisions on a single wizard. Read More

This paper presents a new optimal filter namely past observation-based extended Kalman filter for the problem of localization of Internet-based mobile robot in which the control input and the feedback measurement suffer from communication delay. The filter operates through two phases: the time update and the data correction. The time update predicts the robot position by reformulating the kinematics model to be non-memoryless. Read More

Affiliations: 1Autonomous Motion Department at the MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen, Germany, 2Autonomous Motion Department at the MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen, Germany, 3Autonomous Motion Department at the MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen, Germany, 4Autonomous Motion Department at the MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen, Germany, 5Autonomous Motion Department at the MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen, Germany, 6Autonomous Motion Department at the MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen, Germany, 7Autonomous Motion Department at the MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen, Germany, 8Autonomous Motion Department at the MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen, Germany, 9Lula Robotics Inc., Seattle, WA, USA, 10Autonomous Motion Department at the MPI for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen, Germany

We address the challenging problem of robotic grasping and manipulation in the presence of uncertainty. This uncertainty is due to noisy sensing, inaccurate models and hard-to-predict environment dynamics. Our approach emphasizes the importance of continuous, real-time perception and its tight integration with reactive motion generation methods. Read More

This paper deals with the problem of detecting fallen people lying on the floor by means of a mobile robot equipped with a 3D depth sensor. In the proposed algorithm, inspired by semantic segmentation techniques, the 3D scene is over-segmented into small patches. Fallen people are then detected by means of two SVM classifiers: the first one labels each patch, while the second one captures the spatial relations between them. Read More

Impressive progress has been achieved in object detection with the use of deep learning. Nevertheless, such tools typically require a large amount of training data and significant manual effort for labeling objects. This limits their applicability in robotics, where it is necessary to scale solutions to a large number of objects and a variety of conditions. Read More

This study proposes behavior-based navigation architecture, named BBFM, to deal with the problem of navigating the mobile robot in unknown environments in the presence of obstacles and local minimum regions. In the architecture, the complex navigation task is split into principal sub-tasks or behaviors. Each behavior is implemented by a fuzzy controller and executed independently to deal with a specific problem of navigation. Read More