PR2 Beta Sites: Spotlight on Stanford

PR2 Search BoxSTAIR on PR2

The PR2's arrival at Stanford University is a homecoming of sorts.  The PR (Personal Robot) project emerged from Ken Salisbury's lab at Stanford in the form of PR1.  Moreover, what was once the STAIR lab's Switchyard system has morphed into today's ROS.  We're excited to see ROS and the PR2 at Stanford, ready for more tinkering and growth.

The STAIR (STanford AI Robot) project seeks to develop the software needed to put a general-purpose robot in every home.  The team is making the PR2 the next robotic platform for STAIR, and will develop open-source software towards this goal.  The lab will transition the STAIR perception, grasping, and manipulation software to enable the PR2 to carry out three applications: fetching items, inventory taking, and clearing a dining room table.

The first component that the group plans to transition to the PR2 is their software for robotic perception, much of which is already released as open-source, but not yet adapted for the PR2.  They have developed algorithms for embodied perception, which take advantage of the physical presence of the robot to recognize objects more accurately.  The team has also developed algorithms that choose where to foveate (i.e., point a robot head or camera) to efficiently find/recognize objects, and use multiple views of an object to facilitate better recognition.  The STAIR lab proposes to integrate these perception tools with the PR2, and thereby develop an object detector with an unprecedented level of performance.

The second component to be transitioned will enable the PR2 to grasp novel objects.  The group's grasping algorithm explicitly reasons about the placement of multiple fingers on an object, and they will transition this algorithm to the PR2, modifying it to work with the robot’s grippers and sensors.  Additionally, the STAIR team will address the problem of smoothly placing objects on a surface. Finally, the group will use their algorithms to address the problem of grasping novel objects from previously known object classes. Specifically, they will develop class-specific algorithms for grasping tableware and cutlery.

The third component that the group will transition to the PR2 is the ability to use novel doors and elevators.  The STAIR lab will integrate their door opening methods on the PR2, allowing for generalizability to a broader range of doors and door handles than has been possible with their prior hardware platforms.  They've already made quick progress on this.  Within twelve hours of setting up their PR2, the group ported their existing door-opening code. This is impressively fast given how different the STAIR 1 Robot is from the PR2.

Stanford TeamThe Team

The project is led by Prof. Andrew Ng and will include contributions from Prof. Ken Salisbury and Prof. Oussama Khatib.

The team is also comprised of a group of graduate students, including:


Below is a video of Morgan Quigley and Adam Leeper presenting Stanford's proposal to the rest of the PR2 Beta Program participants. You can download the slides as PDF.

Article written with assistance from Morgan Quigley.