Cart Pushing

Jon Scholz, a summer intern from Georgia Tech, spent his summer figuring out how to allow the PR2 to navigate while pushing carts and other wheeled objects. After working with the Cart Hackathon team to quickly prototype a cart-pushing solution, Jon worked on the more difficult task of making these capabilities robust.

The ability to push mobile objects is critical for a large number of service and utility tasks, ranging from healthcare to warehouse automation to custodial work. Although the PR2 has all the physical capabilities to navigate with carts, wheelchairs, stretchers, and tables, all these tasks require careful planning to ensure robust and smooth navigation in cluttered environments. Jon's work focused on the design of components for collision-free maneuvering of these objects with the PR2's arms, and combining this ability with robot navigation for robust planning in indoor environments.

The PR2 can now efficiently push a utility cart throughout the building, and researchers at Willow Garage are continuing to expand the range of objects with which the robot can navigate. Details about the project, including open source code, can be found here. For a technical overview, you can view Jon's slides below.