Computer Science - Robotics Publications (50)


Computer Science - Robotics Publications

Robotics is called to be the next technological revolution and estimations indicate that it will trigger the fourth industrial revolution. This article presents a review of some of the most relevant milestones that occurred in robotics over the last few decades and future perspectives. Despite the fact that, nowadays, robotics is an emerging field, the challenges in many technological aspects and more importantly bringing innovative solutions to the market still remain open. Read More

Swarms of robots will revolutionize many industrial applications, from targeted material delivery to precision farming. Controlling the motion and behavior of these swarms presents unique challenges for human operators, who cannot yet effectively convey their high-level intentions to a group of robots in application. This work proposes a new human-swarm interface based on novel wearable gesture-control and haptic-feedback devices. Read More

We propose an approach based on probabilistic models, in particular POMDPs, to plan optimized search processes of known objects by intelligent eye in hand robotic arms. Searching and reaching for a known object (a pen, a book, or a hammer) in one's office is an operation that humans perform frequently in their daily activities. There is no reason why intelligent robotic arms would not encounter this problem frequently in the various applications in which they are expected to serve. Read More

As part of a complete software stack for autonomous driving, NVIDIA has created a neural-network-based system, known as PilotNet, which outputs steering angles given images of the road ahead. PilotNet is trained using road images paired with the steering angles generated by a human driving a data-collection car. It derives the necessary domain knowledge by observing human drivers. Read More

In this paper we introduce an adaptive cost function for pointcloud registration. The algorithm automatically estimates the sensor noise, which is important for generalization across different sensors and environments. Through experiments on real and synthetic data, we show significant improvements in accuracy and robustness over state-of-the-art solutions. Read More

Path planning for multiple robots is well studied in the AI and robotics communities. For a given discretized environment, robots need to find collision-free paths to a set of specified goal locations. Robots can be fully anonymous, non-anonymous, or organized in groups. Read More

We study the problem of reducing the amount of communication in decentralized target tracking. We focus on the scenario where a team of robots are allowed to move on the boundary of the environment. Their goal is to seek a formation so as to best track a target moving in the interior of the environment. Read More

With introduction of new technologies in the operating room like the da Vinci Surgical System, training surgeons to use them effectively and efficiently is crucial in the delivery of better patient care. Coaching by an expert surgeon is effective in teaching relevant technical skills, but current methods to deliver effective coaching are limited and not scalable. We present a virtual reality simulation-based framework for automated virtual coaching in surgical education. Read More

The threat to safety of aging bridges has been recognized as a critical concern to the general public due to the poor condition of many bridges in the U.S. Currently, the bridge inspection is conducted manually, and it is not efficient to identify bridge condition deterioration in order to facilitate implementation of appropriate maintenance or rehabilitation procedures. Read More

Simulation environments for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can be very useful for prototyping user interfaces and training personnel that will operate UAVs in the real world. The realistic operation of such simulations will only enhance the value of such training. In this paper, we present the integration of a model-based waypoint navigation controller into the Reno Rescue Simulator for the purposes of providing a more realistic user interface in simulated environments. Read More

This paper considers the problem of autonomous multi-agent cooperative target search in an unknown environment using a decentralized framework under a no-communication scenario. The targets are considered as static targets and the agents are considered to be homogeneous. The no-communication scenario translates as the agents do not exchange either the information about the environment or their actions among themselves. Read More

Visual-Inertial Odometry (VIO) utilizes an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) to overcome the limitations of Visual Odometry (VO). However, the VIO for vehicles in large-scale outdoor environments still has some difficulties in estimating forward motion with distant features. To solve these difficulties, we propose a robust VIO method based on the analysis of feature confidence in forward motion estimation using an IMU. Read More

We propose a self-supervised approach for learning representations entirely from unlabeled videos recorded from multiple viewpoints. This is particularly relevant to robotic imitation learning, which requires a viewpoint-invariant understanding of the relationships between humans and their environment, including object interactions, attributes and body pose. We train our representations using a triplet loss, where multiple simultaneous viewpoints of the same observation are attracted in the embedding space, while being repelled from temporal neighbors which are often visually similar but functionally different. Read More

This paper presents a modular in-pipeline climbing robot with a novel compliant foldable OmniCrawler mechanism. The circular cross-section of the OmniCrawler module enables a holonomic motion to facilitate the alignment of the robot in the direction of bends. Additionally, the crawler mechanism provides a fair amount of traction, even on slippery surfaces. Read More

Data fusion has become an active research topic in recent years. Growing computational performance has allowed the use of redundant sensors to measure a single phenomenon. While Bayesian fusion approaches are common in general applications, the computer vision field has largely relegated this approach. Read More

In this work we present a method for using Deep Q-Networks (DQNs) in multi-objective tasks. Deep Q-Networks provide remarkable performance in single objective tasks learning from high-level visual perception. However, in many scenarios (e. Read More

We consider generalizations of the familiar fifteen-piece sliding puzzle on the 4 by 4 square grid. On larger grids with more pieces and more holes, asymptotically how fast can we move the puzzle into the solved state? We also give a variation with sliding hexagons. The square puzzles and the hexagon puzzles are both discrete versions of configuration spaces of disks, which are of interest in statistical mechanics and topological robotics. Read More

In recent years, MEMS inertial sensors (3D accelerometers and 3D gyroscopes) have become widely available due to their small size and low cost. Inertial sensor measurements are obtained at high sampling rates and can be integrated to obtain position and orientation information. These estimates are accurate on a short time scale, but suffer from integration drift over longer time scales. Read More

Mapping and self-localization in unknown environments are fundamental capabilities in many robotic applications. These tasks typically involve the identification of objects as unique features or landmarks, which requires the objects both to be detected and then assigned a unique identifier that can be maintained when viewed from different perspectives and in different images. The \textit{data association} and \textit{simultaneous localization and mapping} (SLAM) problems are, individually, well-studied in the literature. Read More

In large-scale natural disasters, humans are likely to fail when they attempt to reach high-risk sites or act in search and rescue operations. Robots, however, outdo their counterparts in surviving the hazards and handling the search and rescue missions due to their multiple and diverse sensing and actuation capabilities. The dynamic formation of optimal coalition of these heterogeneous robots for cost efficiency is very challenging and research in the area is gaining more and more attention. Read More

We present a novel mapping framework for robot navigation which features a multi-level querying system capable to obtain rapidly representations as diverse as a 3D voxel grid, a 2.5D height map and a 2D occupancy grid. These are inherently embedded into a memory and time efficient core data structure organized as a Tree of SkipLists. Read More

For future application of automated vehicles in public traffic, ensuring functional safety is essential. In this context, a hazard analysis and risk assessment is an important input for designing functionally vehicle automation systems. In this contribution, we present a detailed hazard analysis and risk assessment (HARA) according to the ISO 26262 standard for a specific Level 4 application, namely an unmanned protective vehicle operated without human supervision for motorway hard shoulder roadworks. Read More

How do you learn to navigate an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and avoid obstacles? One approach is to use a small dataset collected by human experts: however, high capacity learning algorithms tend to overfit when trained with little data. An alternative is to use simulation. But the gap between simulation and real world remains large especially for perception problems. Read More

Recent years have witnessed amazing progress in AI related fields such as computer vision, machine learning and autonomous vehicles. As with any rapidly growing field, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay up-to-date or enter the field as a beginner. While several topic specific survey papers have been written, to date no general survey on problems, datasets and methods in computer vision for autonomous vehicles exists. Read More

Recognizing a previously visited place, also known as place recognition (or loop closure detection) is the key towards fully autonomous mobile robots and self-driving vehicle navigation. Augmented with various Simultaneous Localization and Mapping techniques (SLAM), loop closure detection allows for incremental pose correction and can bolster efficient and accurate map creation. However, repeated and similar scenes (perceptual aliasing) and long term appearance changes (e. Read More

We consider the path planning problem for a 2-link robot amidst polygonal obstacles. Our robot is parametrizable by the lengths $\ell_1, \ell_2>0$ of its two links, the thickness $\tau \ge 0$ of the links, and an angle $\kappa$ that constrains the angle between the 2 links to be strictly greater than $\kappa$. The case $\tau>0$ and $\kappa \ge 0$ corresponds to "thick non-crossing" robots. Read More

This study tries to explain the connection between communication modalities and levels of supervision in teleoperation during a dexterous task, like surgery. This concept is applied to two surgical related tasks: incision and peg transfer. It was found that as the complexity of the task escalates, the combination linking human supervision with a more expressive modality shows better performance than other combinations of modalities and control. Read More

Loop closure detection (LCD) is an indispensable part of simultaneous localization and mapping systems (SLAM); it enables robots to produce a consistent map by recognizing previously visited places. When robots operate over extended periods, robustness to viewpoint and condition changes as well as satisfactory real-time performance become essential requirements for a practical LCD system. This paper presents an approach to directly utilize the outputs at the intermediate layer of a pre-trained convolutional neural network (CNN) as image descriptors. Read More

We describe a method for formation-change trajectory planning for large quadcopter teams in obstacle-rich environments. Our method decomposes the planning problem into two stages: a discrete planner operating on a graph representation of the workspace, and a continuous refinement that converts the non-smooth graph plan into a set of C^k-continuous trajectories, locally optimizing an integral-squared-derivative cost. We model the downwash directly, allowing safe flight in dense formations. Read More

In this paper we present our work with the Pepper robot, a service robot from SoftBank Robotics. We had two main goals in this work: improving the autonomy of this robot by increasing its awareness of the environment; and enhance the robot ability to interact with its users. To achieve this goals, we used ROS, a modern open-source framework for developing robotics software, to provide Pepper with state of the art localization and navigation capabilities. Read More

There have been numerous studies on the problem of flocking control for multiagent systems whose simplified models are presented in terms of point-mass elements. Meanwhile, full dynamic models pose some challenging problems in addressing the flocking control problem of mobile robots due to their nonholonomic dynamic properties. Taking practical constraints into consideration, we propose a novel approach to distributed flocking control of nonholonomic mobile robots by bounded feedback. Read More

The rise of robotic applications has led to the generation of a huge volume of unstructured data, whereas the current cloud infrastructure was designed to process limited amounts of structured data. To address this problem, we propose a learn-memorize-recall-reduce paradigm for robotic cloud computing. The learning stage converts incoming unstructured data into structured data; the memorization stage provides effective storage for the massive amount of data; the recall stage provides efficient means to retrieve the raw data; while the reduction stage provides means to make sense of this massive amount of unstructured data with limited computing resources. Read More

A smart wheelchair (SW) is a power wheelchair (PW) to which computers, sensors, and assistive technology are attached. In the past decade, there has been little effort to provide a systematic review of SW research. This paper aims to provide a complete state-of-the-art overview of SW research trends. Read More

We propose a novel design of a parallel manipulator of Stewart Gough type for virtual reality application of single individuals; i.e. an omni-directional treadmill is mounted on the motion platform in order to improve VR immersion by giving feedback to the human body. Read More

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones, have many potential uses in real world applications. Drones require advanced planning and navigation algorithms to enable them to safely move through and interact with the world around them. This paper presents an extended potential field controller (ePFC) which enables an aerial robot, or drone, to safely track a dynamic target location while simultaneously avoiding any obstacles in its path. Read More

In this paper, we propose an online learning algorithm based on a Rao-Blackwellized particle filter for spatial concept acquisition and mapping. We have proposed a nonparametric Bayesian spatial concept acquisition model (SpCoA). We propose a novel method (SpCoSLAM) integrating SpCoA and FastSLAM in the theoretical framework of the Bayesian generative model. Read More

Bridge condition assessment is important to maintain the quality of highway roads for public transport. Bridge deterioration with time is inevitable due to aging material, environmental wear and in some cases, inadequate maintenance. Non-destructive evaluation (NDE) methods are preferred for condition assessment for bridges, concrete buildings, and other civil structures. Read More

It is necessary for a mobile robot to be able to efficiently plan a path from its starting, or current, location to a desired goal location. This is a trivial task when the environment is static. However, the operational environment of the robot is rarely static, and it often has many moving obstacles. Read More

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have gained much attention in recent years for both commercial and military applications. The progress in this field has gained much popularity and the research has encompassed various fields of scientific domain. Cyber securing a UAV communication has been one of the active research field since the attack on Predator UAV video stream hijacking in 2009. Read More

The problem of distributed formation control of nonholonomic mobile robots is addressed in this paper, in which the robots are designed to track a formation. Collision avoidance among agents is guaranteed using a control law based on a repulsive force. In an uncertain environment where obstacles exist, the construction of repulsive force and rotational direction enables agents to avoid and pass the obstacles. Read More

Nowadays, robots become a companion in everyday life. To be well-accepted by humans, robots should efficiently understand meanings of their partners' motions and body language, and respond accordingly. Learning concepts by imitation brings them this ability in a user-friendly way. Read More

Urban intersections represent a complex environment for autonomous vehicles with many sources of uncertainty. The vehicle must plan in a stochastic environment with potentially rapid changes in driver behavior. Providing an efficient strategy to navigate through urban intersections is a difficult task. Read More

Hardness is among the most important attributes of an object that humans learn about through touch. However, approaches for robots to estimate hardness are limited, due to the lack of information provided by current tactile sensors. In this work, we address these limitations by introducing a novel method for hardness estimation, based on the GelSight tactile sensor, and the method does not require accurate control of contact conditions or the shape of objects. Read More

Robots have the potential to be a game changer in healthcare: improving health and well-being, filling care gaps, supporting care givers, and aiding health care workers. However, before robots are able to be widely deployed, it is crucial that both the research and industrial communities work together to establish a strong evidence-base for healthcare robotics, and surmount likely adoption barriers. This article presents a broad contextualization of robots in healthcare by identifying key stakeholders, care settings, and tasks; reviewing recent advances in healthcare robotics; and outlining major challenges and opportunities to their adoption. Read More

This paper presents a new 3D point cloud classification benchmark data set with over four billion manually labelled points, meant as input for data-hungry (deep) learning methods. We also discuss first submissions to the benchmark that use deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) as a work horse, which already show remarkable performance improvements over state-of-the-art. CNNs have become the de-facto standard for many tasks in computer vision and machine learning like semantic segmentation or object detection in images, but have no yet led to a true breakthrough for 3D point cloud labelling tasks due to lack of training data. Read More

This papers shows that using separators, which is a pair of two complementary contractors, we can easily and efficiently solve the localization problem of a robot with sonar measurements in an unstructured environment. We introduce separators associated with the Minkowski sum and the Minkowski difference in order to facilitate the resolution. A test-case is given in order to illustrate the principle of the approach. Read More

Deep learning and reinforcement learning methods have recently been used to solve a variety of problems in continuous control domains. An obvious application of these techniques is dexterous manipulation tasks in robotics which are difficult to solve using traditional control theory or hand-engineered approaches. One example of such a task is to grasp an object and precisely stack it on another. Read More

This paper presents a data-driven approach to model planar pushing interaction to predict both the most likely outcome of a push and its expected variability. The learned models rely on a variation of Gaussian processes with input-dependent noise called Variational Heteroscedastic Gaussian processes (VHGP) that capture the mean and variance of a stochastic function. We show that we can learn accurate models that outperform analytical models after less than 100 samples and saturate in performance with less than 1000 samples. Read More

Deep reinforcement learning has achieved many impressive results in recent years. However, tasks with sparse rewards or long horizons continue to pose significant challenges. To tackle these important problems, we propose a general framework that first learns useful skills in a pre-training environment, and then leverages the acquired skills for learning faster in downstream tasks. Read More

Autonomous driving clouds provide essential services to support autonomous vehicles. Today these services include but not limited to distributed simulation tests for new algorithm deployment, offline deep learning model training, and High-Definition (HD) map generation. These services require infrastructure support including distributed computing, distributed storage, as well as heterogeneous computing. Read More