PR2 Beta Sites: Spotlight on JSK Lab

VacuumAutonomous Motion Planning for Daily Tasks in Human Environments using Collaborating Robots

For the past 10 years, the JSK lab at the University of Tokyo has used the HRP2 humanoid robot platform to tackle household tasks such as cleaning, retrieving objects, manipulating appliances like ovens and dishwashers, cutting vegetables, and sweeping floors. The lab is also at the center of the Information and Robot Technology (IRT) initiative whose purpose is to solve the challenges facing the rapidly aging Japanese population. One of IRT's goals is to build three personal assistant robot systems: a kitchen assistant robot, a home assistant robot, and a care robot that constantly analyzes people in the environment and gives helpful suggestions or contacts someone for assistance.

The JSK team has worked with Willow Garage since Spring 2009, and has already run several demos on the Willow Garage PR2 robots. Based on this work, the JSK team proposed "Autonomous Motion Planning for Daily Tasks in Human Environments using Collaborating Robots" for the PR2 Beta Program. One unique goal of this project is to complete multi-robot coordination tasks with both HRP2 and the PR2. Interacting in a human-centric environment requires awareness of constantly changing surroundings that include people and other robots. The team will explore interoperability of robots with different kinematics, sensors, and control frameworks. The focus of the research will be on higher-level cognitive modules like manipulation planning, task planning, dynamic movements, error detection, and recovery. The driving principle is to design a system that allows users to easily teach robots to perform new tasks, with little to no parameter tweaking and minimal predetermined, domain-specific information.

JSK will also combine ROS with three other major frameworks: EusLisp, OpenRAVE, and OpenRTM. For almost 20 years, the JSK lab has been developing a robot software framework based on EusLisp, a robotics-oriented dialect of Lisp. The framework's combination with ROS will allow EusLisp-based programs to work in a more distributed, multi-process environment for next generation scripting and task execution.

The team's other project, OpenRAVE, is quickly becoming a popular platform for motion planning algorithm development. OpenRAVE has redefined many traditional beliefs in autonomous manipulation about what is feasible, practical, re-usable, and generalizable to other robots. OpenRAVE was created by Rosen Diankov at CMU, and he will continue his work on the platform at JSK.

Finally, JSK's OpenRTM project is directly funded by the Japanese government and has become the most supported robotics platform in Japan. Much prototype hardware in Japan, including the latest humanoid robots, directly provides drivers through OpenRTM. Eventually, the JSK team hopes to see a specialization of highly reliable modules that occur within EusLisp, OpenRAVE, and OpenRTM, while reusing the distributed environment of ROS.

The team's long-term goal is to build a robot that can help in daily life, both in the office and home. In the office environment, this robot will be capable of retrieving, fetching, carrying, and passing objects across rooms and buildings. In a nursing home context, the robot will be able to use home appliances and other tools to support aging and disabled populations.

Team photoThe Team

The project will involve efforts from the entire JSK laboratory consisting of approximately 30 students and 10 faculty. The project leaders are:


Below is a video of Kei Okada presenting JSK's proposal to the rest of the PR2 Beta Program participants. You can download the slides as PDF.