Computer Science - Robotics Publications (50)


Computer Science - Robotics Publications

The problem of optimal motion planing and control is fundamental in robotics. However, this problem is intractable for continuous-time stochastic systems in general and the solution is difficult to approximate if non-instantaneous nonlinear performance indices are present. In this work, we provide an efficient algorithm, PIPC (Probabilistic Inference for Planning and Control), that yields approximately optimal policies with arbitrary higher-order nonlinear performance indices. Read More

This paper seeks insight into stabilization mechanisms for periodic walking gaits in 3D bipedal robots. Based on this insight, a control strategy based on virtual constraints, which imposes coordination between joints rather than a temporal evolution, will be proposed for achieving asymptotic convergence toward a periodic motion. For planar bipeds with one degree of underactuation, it is known that a vertical displacement of the center of mass---with downward velocity at the step transition---induces stability of a walking gait. Read More

Safety in autonomous systems has been mostly studied from a human-centered perspective. Besides the loads they may carry, autonomous systems are also valuable property, and self-preservation mechanisms are needed to protect them in the presence of external threats, including malicious robots and antagonistic humans. We present a biologically inspired risk-based triggering mechanism to initiate self-preservation strategies. Read More

In this paper, we investigate the convergence and consistency properties of an Invariant-Extended Kalman Filter (RI-EKF) based Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithm. Basic convergence properties of this algorithm are proven. These proofs do not require the restrictive assumption that the Jacobians of the motion and observation models need to be evaluated at the ground truth. Read More

We explore design principles for general pixel-level prediction problems, from low-level edge detection to mid-level surface normal estimation to high-level semantic segmentation. Convolutional predictors, such as the fully-convolutional network (FCN), have achieved remarkable success by exploiting the spatial redundancy of neighboring pixels through convolutional processing. Though computationally efficient, we point out that such approaches are not statistically efficient during learning precisely because spatial redundancy limits the information learned from neighboring pixels. Read More

Mobile robots are increasingly being employed for performing complex tasks in dynamic environments. Reinforcement learning (RL) methods are recognized to be promising for specifying such tasks in a relatively simple manner. However, the strong dependency between the learning method and the task to learn is a well-known problem that restricts practical implementations of RL in robotics, often requiring major modifications of parameters and adding other techniques for each particular task. Read More

We introduce an approach for the real-time (2Hz) creation of a dense map and alignment of a moving robotic agent within that map by rendering using a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). This is done by recasting the scan alignment part of the dense mapping process as a rendering task. Alignment errors are computed from rendering the scene, comparing with range data from the sensors, and minimized by an optimizer. Read More

In this paper we consider the problem of controlling the dynamic behavior of a multi-robot system while interacting with the environment. In particular, we propose a general methodology that, by means of locally scaling inter-robot coupling relationships, leads to achieving a desired interactive behavior. The proposed method is shown to guarantee passivity preservation, which ensures a safe interaction. Read More

Perception-driven approach and end-to-end system are two major vision-based frameworks for self-driving cars. However, it is difficult to introduce attention and historical information of autonomous driving process, which are the essential factors for achieving human-like driving into these two methods. In this paper, we propose a novel model for self-driving cars named brain-inspired cognitive model with attention (CMA). Read More

Multi-agent path finding (MAPF) is well-studied in artificial intelligence, robotics, theoretical computer science and operations research. We discuss issues that arise when generalizing MAPF methods to real-world scenarios and four research directions that address them. We emphasize the importance of addressing these issues as opposed to developing faster methods for the standard formulation of the MAPF problem. Read More

Experimental testing of an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) has been performed to evaluate the performance of two low-level controllers when displacement and drag properties are time-varying and uncertain. The USV is a 4.3 meter long, 150 kilogram wave adaptive modular vessel (WAM-V) with an inflatable twin hull configuration and waterjet propulsion. Read More

This paper takes the first step towards the development of a control framework for underactuated flying humanoid robots. We assume that the robot is powered by four thrust forces placed at the robot end effectors, namely the robot hands and feet. Then, the control objective is defined as the asymptotic stabilization of the robot centroidal momentum. Read More

Cyclic pursuit frameworks, which are built upon pursuit interactions between neighboring agents in a cycle graph, provide an efficient way to create useful global behaviors in a collective of autonomous robots. Previous work has considered cyclic pursuit with a constant bearing (CB) pursuit law and has demonstrated the existence of circling equilibria for the corresponding dynamics. In this work we propose a beacon-referenced version of the CB pursuit law, wherein a stationary beacon provides an additional reference for the individual agents in the collective. Read More

We present a graph representation that fuses information from the robot sensory system and an emergency-map into one. Emergency-maps are a support extensively used by firemen in rescue mission. Enabling the robot to use such prior maps instead of starting SLAM from scratch will aid planning and navigation for robots in new environments. Read More

The increasing number of robots in home environments leads to an emerging coexistence between humans and robots. Robots undertake common tasks and support the residents in their everyday life. People appreciate the presence of robots in their environment as long as they keep the control over them. Read More

Field trials of a 4 meter long, 180 kilogram, unmanned surface vehicle (USV) have been conducted to evaluate the performance of station-keeping heading and position controllers in an outdoor marine environment disturbed by wind and current. The USV has a twin hull configuration and a custom-designed propulsion system, which consists of two azimuthing thrusters, one for each hull. Nonlinear proportional derivative, backstepping and sliding mode feedback controllers were tested in winds of about 4-5 knots, with and without wind feedforward control. Read More

A novel method to determine the switching of controllers to increase the performance of a system is presented. Three controllers are utilized to capture three behaviors representative of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). An underactuated nonlinear controller is derived to transit the vehicle between locations; a fully-actuated nonlinear controller is given to station-keep the vehicle at a setpoint; and a linear anti-windup controller is presented for the reversing mode of operation. Read More

This paper investigates the task assignment problem for multiple dispersed robots constrained by limited communication range. The robots are initially randomly distributed and need to visit several target locations while minimizing the total travel time. A centralized rendezvous-based algorithm is proposed, under which all the robots first move towards a rendezvous position until communication paths are established between every pair of robots either directly or through intermediate peers, and then one robot is chosen as the leader to make a centralized task assignment for the other robots. Read More

Trajectory optimization is a fundamental problem in robotics. While optimization of continuous control trajectories is well developed, many applications require both discrete and continuous, i.e. Read More

The paper presents a new formal way of modeling and designing reconfigurable robots, in which case the robots are allowed to reconfigure not only structurally but also functionally. We call such kind of robots "self-evolvable", which have the potential to be more flexible to be used in a wider range of tasks, in a wider range of environments, and with a wider range of users. To accommodate such a concept, i. Read More

We introduce a neural architecture for navigation in novel environments. Our proposed architecture learns to map from first-person viewpoints and plans a sequence of actions towards goals in the environment. The Cognitive Mapper and Planner (CMP) is based on two key ideas: a) a unified joint architecture for mapping and planning, such that the mapping is driven by the needs of the planner, and b) a spatial memory with the ability to plan given an incomplete set of observations about the world. Read More

In spite of recent progress, soft robotics still suffers from a lack of unified modeling framework. Nowadays, the most adopted model for the design and control of soft robots is the piece-wise constant curvature model, with its consolidated benefits and drawbacks. In this work, an alternative model for multisection soft robots dynamics is presented based on a discrete Cosserat approach, which, not only takes into account shear and torsional deformations, essentials to cope with out-of-plane external loads, but also inherits the geometrical and mechanical properties of the continuous Cosserat model, making it the natural soft robotics counterpart of the traditional rigid robotics dynamics model. Read More

The contribution of this paper is twofold. The first is a novel dataset for studying behaviors of traffic participants while crossing. Our dataset contains more than 650 samples of pedestrian behaviors in various street configurations and weather conditions. Read More


In multi-robot systems where a central decision maker is specifying the movement of each individual robot, a communication failure can severely impair the performance of the system. This paper develops a motion strategy that allows robots to safely handle critical communication failures for such multi-robot architectures. For each robot, the proposed algorithm computes a time horizon over which collisions with other robots are guaranteed not to occur. Read More

Our ultimate goal is to efficiently enable end-users to correctly anticipate a robot's behavior in novel situations. This behavior is often a direct result of the robot's underlying objective function. Our insight is that end-users need to have an accurate mental model of this objective function in order to understand and predict what the robot will do. Read More

Low-cost mini-drones with advanced sensing and maneuverability enable a new class of intelligent sensing systems. This trend motivated several research efforts to employ drones as standalone systems or to assist legacy deployments. However, several fundamental challenges remain unsolved including: 1) Adequate coverage of sizable targets; 2) Target orientation that render coverage effective only from certain view points; 3) Occlusion by elements in the environment, including other targets. Read More

We consider the following problem: a team of robots is deployed in an unknown environment and it has to collaboratively build a map of the area without a reliable infrastructure for communication. The backbone for modern mapping techniques is pose graph optimization, which estimates the trajectory of the robots, from which the map can be easily built. The first contribution of this paper is a set of distributed algorithms for pose graph optimization: rather than sending all sensor data to a remote sensor fusion server, the robots exchange very partial and noisy information to reach an agreement on the pose graph configuration. Read More

Many driver assistance systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control require the identification of the closest vehicle that is in the host vehicle's path. This entails an assignment of detected vehicles to the host vehicle path or neighboring paths. After reviewing approaches to the estimation of the host vehicle path and lane assignment techniques we introduce two methods that are motivated by the rationale to filter measured data as late in the processing stages as possible in order to avoid delays and other artifacts of intermediate filters. Read More

This paper proposes a sampling based planning algorithm to control autonomous vehicles. We propose an improved Rapidly-exploring Random Tree which includes the definition of K- nearest points and propose a two-stage sampling strategy to adjust RRT in other to perform maneuver while avoiding collision. The simulation results show the success of the algorithm. Read More

We consider a swarm of $n$ autonomous mobile robots, distributed on a 2-dimensional grid. A basic task for such a swarm is the gathering process: all robots have to gather at one (not predefined) place. The work in this paper is motivated by the following insight: On one side, for swarms of robots distributed in the 2-dimensional Euclidean space, several gathering algorithms are known for extremely simple robots that are oblivious, have bounded viewing radius, no compass, and no "flags" to communicate a status to others. Read More

Evolutionary robotics aims to automatically design autonomous adaptive robots that can evolve to accomplish a specific task while adapting to environmental changes. A number of studies have demonstrated the feasibility of evolutionary robotics for the synthesis of robots control and morphology. For that reason, we review the literature in this paper and discuss various aspects of evolutionary robotics including the application on modular robotics to allow self-assembly, self-reconfiguration, self-repair, and self-reproduce. Read More

Autonomous fixed-wing UAV landing based on differential GPS is now a mainstream providing reliable and precise landing. But the task still remains challenging when GPS availability is limited like for military UAVs. We discuss a solution of this problem based on computer vision and dot markings along stationary or makeshift runway. Read More

In this work, we analyze \textit{stochastic coverage schemes} (SCS) for robotic swarms in which the robots randomly attach to a one-dimensional boundary of interest using local communication and sensing, without relying on global position information or a map of the environment. Robotic swarms may be required to perform boundary coverage in a variety of applications, including environmental monitoring, collective transport, disaster response, and nanomedicine. We present a novel analytical approach to computing and designing the statistical properties of the communication and sensing networks that are formed by random robot configurations on a boundary. Read More

We present a new method of learning control policies that successfully operate under unknown dynamic models. We create such policies by leveraging a large number of training examples that are generated using a physical simulator. Our system is made of two components: a Universal Policy (UP) and a function for Online System Identification (OSI). Read More

Deep learning is an established framework for learning hierarchical data representations. While compute power is in abundance, one of the main challenges in applying this framework to robotic grasping has been obtaining the amount of data needed to learn these representations, and structuring the data to the task at hand. Among contemporary approaches in the literature, we highlight key properties that have encouraged the use of deep learning techniques, and in this paper, detail our experience in developing a simulator for collecting cylindrical precision grasps of a multi-fingered dexterous robotic hand. Read More

We describe the computing tasks involved in autonomous driving, examine existing autonomous driving computing platform implementations. To enable autonomous driving, the computing stack needs to simultaneously provide high performance, low power consumption, and low thermal dissipation, at low cost. We discuss possible approaches to design computing platforms that will meet these needs. Read More

Robots such as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) have been used for sensing and monitoring aquatic environments such as oceans and lakes. Environmental sampling is a challenging task because the environmental attributes to be observed can vary both spatially and temporally, and the target environment is usually a large and continuous domain whereas the sampling data is typically sparse and limited. The challenges require that the sampling method must be informative and efficient enough to catch up with the environmental dynamics. Read More

Controllers for autonomous robotic systems can be specified using state machines. However, these are typically developed in an ad hoc manner without formal semantics, which makes it difficult to analyse the controller. Simulations are often used during the development, but a rigorous connection between the designed controller and the implementation is often overlooked. Read More

In this study, a new position control scheme for the tendon-sheath mechanism (TSM) which is used in flexible medical devices is presented. TSM is widely used in dexterous robotic applications because it can flexibly work in limited space, in constrained environments, and provides efficient power transmission from the external actuator to the distal joint. However, nonlinearities from friction and backlash hysteresis between the tendon and the sheath pose challenges in achieving precise position controls of the end effector. Read More

This paper evaluates state-of-the-art contact models at predicting the motions and forces involved in simple in-hand robotic manipulations. In particular it focuses on three primitive actions --linear sliding, pivoting, and rolling-- that involve contacts between a gripper, a rigid object, and their environment. The evaluation is done through thousands of controlled experiments designed to capture the motion of object and gripper, and all contact forces and torques at 250Hz. Read More

Reinforcement learning can enable complex, adaptive behavior to be learned automatically for autonomous robotic platforms. However, practical deployment of reinforcement learning methods must contend with the fact that the training process itself can be unsafe for the robot. In this paper, we consider the specific case of a mobile robot learning to navigate an a priori unknown environment while avoiding collisions. Read More

We present a dataset of large-scale indoor spaces that provides a variety of mutually registered modalities from 2D, 2.5D and 3D domains, with instance-level semantic and geometric annotations. The dataset covers over 6,000 m2 and contains over 102,000 RGB images, along with the corresponding depths, surface normals, semantic annotations, global XYZ images (all in forms of both regular and 360{\deg} equirectangular images) as well as camera information. Read More

Safety Barrier Certificates that ensure collision-free maneuvers for teams of differential flatness-based quadrotors are presented in this paper. Synthesized with control barrier functions, the certificates are used to modify the nominal trajectory in a minimally invasive way to avoid collisions. The proposed collision avoidance strategy complements existing flight control and planning algorithms by providing trajectory modifications with provable safety guarantees. Read More

During co-manipulation involving humans and robots, it is necessary to base robot controllers on human behaviors to achieve comfortable and coordinated movement between the human-robot dyad. In this paper, we describe an experiment between human-human dyads and we record the force and motion data as the leader-follower dyads moved in translation and rotation. The force/motion data was then analyzed for patterns found during lateral translation only. Read More

Soft robotic systems present a variety of new opportunities for solving complex problems. The use of soft robotic grippers, for example, can simplify the complexity in tasks such as the of grasping irregular and delicate objects. Adoption of soft robotics by academia and industry, however, has been slow and this is, in-part, due to the amount of hardware and software that must be developed from scratch for each use of soft system components. Read More

Interactions between vehicles and pedestrians have always been a major problem in traffic safety. Experienced human drivers are generally able to analyze the environment and choose driving strategies that will help them avoid crashes. What is not yet clear, however, is how automated vehicles will interact with pedestrians. Read More

We present a theoretical analysis of a recent whole body motion planning method, the Randomized Possibility Graph, which uses a high-level decomposition of the feasibility constraint manifold in order to rapidly find routes that may lead to a solution. These routes are then examined by lower-level planners to determine feasibility. In this paper, we show that this approach is probabilistically complete for bipedal robots performing quasi-static walking in "semi-unstructured" environments. Read More

Mobile robots are often needed for long duration missions. These include search and rescue, sentry, repair, surveillance and entertainment. Current power supply technology limit walking and climbing robots from many such missions. Read More

The paper presents an optimal synthesis of overconstrained linkages, based on the factorization of rational curves contained in Study's quadric. The group of Euclidean displacements is embedded in a affine space where a metric between motions based on the homogeneous mass distribution of the end effector is used to evolve the curves such that they are fitted to a set of target poses. In the end we present an example for the optimal synthesis of an overconstrained 6R linkage. Read More