Willow Garage Blog

May 17, 2010

 Research

If you've worked on a ROS-related publication, hop on over to ROS.org and share your work!  The primary goal of the Papers page is to provide a simple way for readers to try out the ROS code they read about in publications.  Providing easy access to code allows readers to reproduce and verify results, or simply gain a more hands-on understanding of your work.  The page already has an assortment of ROS-related papers, with the publications' full text and links to related code and documentation.  Some entries also include videos and instructions for reproducing the experimental results obtained in the paper.     

Check here to learn more about posting your publications to ROS.org!

May 12, 2010

Research Engineer Romain Thibaux recently worked on teaching the PR2 how to determine the shape of new objects. Using its stereo cameras, the robot can obtain a 3D view of an object.  However, in a single view, many parts of the object are not visible. Romain's work incorporates many such views, taken from different angles, into a complete 3D model. The approach uses probabilities to calculate how much evidence is present to suggest that the space does in fact contain part of an object, or does not. These probabilities are then extended to unobserved regions using the heat equation, which diffuses the probabilities through space just as heat diffuses through a frying pan. In the end, the hot region is the region of high probability, and the boundary between the hot and cold regions is the surface of the object.

Romain's active perception approach allows the robot to determine the 3D shapes of novel objects in a way that is not possible with static cameras. This dynamic approach augments the PR2's perception capabilities and will allow for better manipulation, object identification, and rendering of acquired objects in simulation.

To learn more, check out the video below, or take a look at the model assembler and heat equation solver at ROS.org.

 

May 12, 2010

PR2 got to make a lot of robot friends at ICRA 2010. Check out our quick montage video that features PR2, Kuka's LWR, Barrett's WAM arm, Aldebaran Nao, Meka Robotics, Care-O-bot 3, Dynamaid, homer@UniKoblenz, and more.

May 11, 2010

Handshake


 Bonn's Dynamaid Alaska Train Kuka LWR Aldebaran Nao PR2 Manipulation Demo Schunk LWA Segway RMP Barrett WAM Arm

We had a fantastic time hanging out at ICRA, and really enjoyed meeting the folks who stopped by our booth.  It was exciting to learn that more robots have started running on ROS, and we were finally able to put faces to some of the names that pop up on the ros-users mailing list.  We had three PR2 robots running demos in the booth, and a Texai occasionally roaming around the exhibition area, driven by employees back in Menlo Park.  We briefly managed to sneak away from our booth and take some photos. Check them out in the gallery!

We also helped organize a number of workshops, and had a great time engaging with the participants.  There were about 60 people present at the ROS Tutorial, and, by the end of the day, volunteers were able to use PR2 robots to autonomously retrieve an object from a table.  The 100 participants at the Workshop on Mobile Manipulation fostered lively and wide-ranging discussion about the direction of the field.  Additionally, the 80 participants at the Best Practice Algorithms in 3D Perception and Modeling for Mobile Manipulation workshop saw in-depth presentations and discussion about the state of the art of 3D perception and modeling.

May 4, 2010

11!With so many great proposals, it seemed a shame to give out only ten robots, so we made it a round eleven.

After reviewing 78 submissions to our PR2 Beta Program Call for Proposals, we are excited to announce that we have selected the eleven recipients of PR2 Beta robots at no cost. We were overwhelmed by the response as well as the high caliber of submissions. There was a strong international presence in the submissions and we have selected three recipients in Europe and one in Asia. We were thrilled to see a wide range of proposed research and application areas, and had a difficult time selecting only ten of the proposals -- even eleven was difficult. Thank you to all who invested time and energy to submit a proposal.

The PR2 Beta Program is a two-year commitment during which the selected institutions will pursue their various research goals and regularly meet to explore new applications together. The PR2 Beta is a robust and capable robot platform with a mobile base, two arms for manipulation, a rich sensor suite, and sixteen CPU cores for computation. The total value of the PR2 Beta Program robots is over $4.4 million.

Each PR2 Beta comes with the free and open source ROS robotics framework that offers full control of the PR2, including autonomous navigation, manipulation, and perception libraries. Participants will build on ROS and share their results with each other more easily. These contributions will also be available to the wider ROS community to adapt to other robot platforms.

The proposed contributions from each of the eleven recipients are too difficult to summarize in just the brief highlights below. All of the selected institutions will release open source libraries for robotics and publish code to accompany research results. The PR2 will provide them with a common hardware platform to exchange results and collaborate in ways not previously anticipated. At this year's ICRA conference, there will be papers demonstrating the PR2 opening doors, plugging in, and folding towels. We're very excited to see what's next.

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg with the proposal TidyUpRobot

The University of Freiburg's strength in mapping has led to multiple open-source libraries in wide use. Their group will program the PR2 to do tidy-up tasks like clearing a table, while working on difficult underlying capabilities, like understanding how drawers and refrigerators open, how to recognize different types of objects, and how to integrate this information with the robot's map. Their goal is to detect, grasp, and put away objects with very high reliability, and reproduce these results at other PR2 Beta Program sites.

Bosch with the proposal Developing the Personal Robotics Market: Enabling New Applications Through Novel Sensors and Shared Autonomy

Bosch will bring their expertise in manufacturing, sensing technologies and consumer products. Bosch will be making robotic sensors available to members of the PR2 Beta Program, including a limited number of "skins" that will give the PR2 the ability to feel its environment. Bosch will also make their PR2 remotely accessible and will expand on the libraries they've released for ROS.

Georgia Institute of Technology with the proposal Assistive Mobile Manipulation for Older Adults at Home

The Healthcare Robotics Lab and collaborators at Georgia Tech will be placing the PR2 in an "Aware Home" to study how robots can help with homecare and creative assistive capabilities for older adults. Their research includes creating easier ways for adults to interact with robots, and enabling robots to interact with everyday objects like drawers, lamps, and light switches. Their human-robot interaction focus will help ensure that the software development is closely connected to real-world needs.

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven with the proposal Unified Framework for Task Specification, Control and Coordination for Mobile Manipulation

KU Leuven in Belgium is a key player in the open-source robotics community. As one of the founding institutions for the Orocos Project, they will be improving the tools and libraries used to program robots in ROS, by, for example, integrating ROS with Blender. They will also be working on getting the PR2 and people to perform tasks together, like carrying objects through a crowded environment.

MIT CSAIL with the proposal Mobile Manipulation in Human-Centered Environments

The diverse MIT CSAIL group will use the PR2 to study the key capabilities needed by robots that operate in human-centered environments, such as safe navigation, interaction with humans via natural language, object recognition, and planning for complex goals. Their work will allow robots to build the maps they need in order to move around in buildings as large as MIT’s 11-story Stata Center. They will also program the PR2 to put away groceries and do simple cleaning tasks.

Stanford University with the proposal STAIR on PR2

PR1 was developed in Kenneth Salisbury's lab at Stanford, and ROS was developed from the STAIR (Stanford AI Robot) Project. We're very excited that the PR2 will become the new platform for the STAIR Project's innovative research. Their team will work on several applications, which include taking inventory, retrieving items scattered about a building, and clearing a table after a meal.

Technische Universität München with the proposal CRAM: Cognitive Robot Abstract Machine

TUM will research giving the PR2 the artificial intelligence skills and 3D perception to reason about what it is doing while it performs various kitchen tasks. These combined improvements will help the PR2 perform more complicated tasks like setting a table, emptying a dishwasher, preparing meals, and other kitchen-related tasks.

University of California, Berkeley with the proposal PR2 Beta Program: A Platform for Personal Robotics

The PR2 is now known as the "Towel-Folding Robot", thanks to the impressive efforts of Pieter Abbeel's lab at Berkeley. In two short months, they were able to get the PR2 to fold fifty towels in a row. Berkeley will tackle the much more difficult challenge of doing laundry, from dirty laundry piles to neatly folded clothes. In addition, their team is interested in hierarchical planning, object recognition, and assembly and manufacturing tasks (e.g. IKEA products) through learning by demonstration

University of Pennsylvania with the proposal PR2GRASP: From Perception and Reasoning to Grasping

The GRASP Lab proposal aims to tackle some of the challenges facing household robotics. These challenges include tracking people and planning for navigation in dynamic environments, and transferring handheld objects between robots and humans. Their contributions will include giving PR2 a tool belt to change its gripper on the fly, helping it track and navigate around people, and performing difficult two-arm tasks like opening spring-loaded doors.

University of Southern California with the proposal Persistent and Persuasive Personal Robots (P^3R): Towards Networked, Mobile, Assistive Robotics

USC has already demonstrated teaching the PR2 basic motor skills so that it can adapt to different situations and tasks, such as pouring a cup. They will continue to expand on this work in imitation learning and building and refining skill libraries, while also doing research in human-robot interaction and self-calibration for sensors.

University of Tokyo, Jouhou System Kougaku (JSK) Laboratory with the proposal Autonomous Motion Planning for Daily Tasks in Human Environments using Collaborating Robots

The JSK Laboratory at the University of Tokyo is one of the top humanoid robotics labs in the world. Their goal is to see robots safely and autonomously perform daily, human-like tasks such as retrieving objects and cleaning up domestic environments. They'll also be working on getting the PR2 to work together with other robots, as well as integrating the ROS, EusLisp, and OpenRAVE frameworks.

April 30, 2010

icra

We've finished packing up our robots, and we're headed north to Anchorage! Below, you'll find a complete list of Willow Garage-related talks, workshops and tutorials.  Many of these events were organized in collaboration with other institutions.  Drop on by if you see a topic that strikes your fancy.  We'll also be camped out at our booth, and we hope to see you there!

Monday, May 3 Events:

Best Practice Algorithms in 3D Perception and Modeling for Mobile Manipulation workshop, organized by Radu Bogdan Rusu, Gary Bradski, Andreas Nuechter, and Alexey Zakharov.  The goal of this workshop is to identify the state of the art of 3D perception and modeling algorithms for mobile manipulation.

       This full-day workshop will take place on Monday, May 3 (9:00 am-12:30 pm and 2:00 pm-5:30 pm) in the Dena'ina Center, Kahtnu 1.

Representations for Object Grasping and Manipulation workshop, aimed at discussing the needs for the design of a robot system capable of performing grasping and manipulation tasks in open-ended, unpredictable environments.  Willow Garage's Matei Ciocarlie and Radu Bogdan Rusu will be among the speakers, presenting "Combining Perception and Manipulation in ROS."

       This full-day workshop will take place on Monday, May 3 (9:00 am-12:30 pm and 2:00 pm-5:30 pm) in the Dena'ina Center, Tubughnenq' 4.

Tuesday, May 4 Events:

Vision-Based Detection for Learning Articulation Models of Cabinet Doors and Drawers in Household Environments at the AI Reasoning Methods session.  The authors will present an approach for detecting, tracking, and learning articulation models for cabinet doors and drawers without using artificial markers.

       This talk will take place on Tuesday, May 4 (from 8:30 to 8:45 am) in the Egan Center Lower Level, Room 9/10.

Projected Texture Stereo at the Range Sensing session on Tuesday morning. Kurt Konolige will discuss the development of a practical stereo projector system with excellent depth precision and resolution, especially in the range out to 1.5m.

       This talk will take place on Tuesday, May 4 (from 9:45 to 10:00 am) in the Egan Center Lower Level, Room 1.

The Office Marathon: Robust Navigation in an Indoor Office Environment at the Autonomous Nagivation session. Eitan Marder-Eppstein will discuss our second Milestone, during which the PR2 navigated autonomously for 26.2 miles in a real office environment. Eitan will present the methods required to achieve this level of robustness, including an efficient Voxel-based 3D mapping algorithm that explicitly models unknown space.

       This talk will take place on Tuesday, May 4 (from 9:15 to 9:30 am) in the Egan Center Street Level, Room Cook Hall.

Autonomous Door Opening and Plugging in with a Personal Robot at the Personal and Service Robots session.  This paper also discusses our second Milestone, focusing on opening doors and plugging into wall outlets.

       This talk will take place on Tuesday, May 4 (from 2:50 to 3:05 pm) in the Egan Center Lower Level, Room 1.

Planning for Autonomous Door Opening with a Mobile Manipulator at the Mobile Manipulation session.  This presentation will discuss the use of graph search-based motion planning to handle the wide variety of conditions under which doors need to be opened.

       This talk will take place on Tuesday, May 4 (from 6:45 to 7:00 pm) in the Egan Center Lower Level, Room 13/14.

Wednesday, May 5 Events:

Tactile Object Class and Internal State Recognition for Mobile Manipulation at the Haptics and Human Augmentation session. The authors propose a hybrid velocity-force controller, that grasps an object safely and reveals at the same time its deformation properties. As an application, they show that a robot can use these features to distinguish the open/closed and fill state of bottles and cans -- purely from tactile sensing -- from a small training set.

       This talk will take place on Wednesday, May 5 (from 9:00 to 9:15 am) in the Egan Center Lower Level, Room 2.

Combining Planning Techniques for Manipulation Using Realtime Perception at the Motion Planning for Manipulation and Grasping session.  The authors will present a novel combination of motion planning techniques to compute motion plans for robotic arms.

       This talk will take palce on Wednesday, May 5 (from 3:20 to 3:35 pm) in the Egan Center Lower Level, Room 13/14.

Search-Based Planning for Manipulation with Motion Primitives at the Motion Planning for Manipulation and Grasping session.The authors will present a heuristic search-based manipulation planner that deals effectively with the high-dimensionality of manipulation problems.

       This talk will take place on Wednesday, May 5 (from 3:35 to 3:50 pm) in the Egan Center Lower Level, Room 13/14.

Thursday, May 6 Events:

User-Controlled Variable Impedence Teleoperation at the Teleoperation with Haptics session.  The authors, from Stanford University and Willow Garage, propose a telerobotic architecture with user-controlled variable impedance and show a single degree of freedom experimental implementation.

       This talk will take place on Wednesday, May 6 (from 6:15 to 6:30 pm) in the Egan Center Street Level, Room Cook Hall.

Friday, May 7 Events:

Workshop on Mobile Manipulation, organized by Patrick Pfaff, Wolfram Burgard, Kris Hauser, Sachin Chitta, and Oliver Brock.  This workshop will discuss the state of the art of mobile manipulation research. Willow Garage's Kaijen Hsiao, Matei Ciocarlie, Gil Jones, and Sachin Chitta will be among the participants, presenting "Contact-Reactive Grasping of Objects with Partial Shape Information." 

       The full-day workshop will take place on Friday, May 7 (9:00 am-12:30 pm and 2:00 pm-5:30 pm) in the Dena'ina Center, Tubughnenq' 3.

Tutorial on ROS: from nodes and messages to sensing, planning, and control, taught by Brian Gerkey, Gary Bradski, Ken Conley, Eitan Marder-Eppstein, Morgan Quigley, and Melonee Wise. Participants will use existing ROS software libraries, while also learning to write new code.  You'll get a hands-on opportunity to work on the PR2, as well as in simulation.

       This full-day workshop will take place on Friday, May 7 (9:00 am-12:30 pm and 2:00 pm-5:30 pm) in the Egan Center, La Perouse Hall.

Past ICRA 2010 posts:
Coming Up At ICRA 2010: Personal and Service Robots Session
Coming Up At ICRA 2010: Tutorial on ROS
Coming Up At ICRA 2010: Workshops on Grasping and Manipulation
Coming Up At ICRA 2010: Tuesday Technical Program

April 29, 2010

IJRR

Call for Papers: International Journal of Robotics Research: Special issue on "Semantic Perception for Robots in Indoor Environments"

In an effort to disseminate the current advances in perception for manipulation, and to stimulate a discussion on the future research directions in this field, the International Journal of Robotics Research invites papers for a special issue in this area. It is our expectation and goal that this special issue will succeed in invigorating research interests towards the development and applications of perception for manipulation systems.

The list of topics of interest includes, but is not necessarily limited to:

  • 3D object recognition
  • Semantic scene interpretation based on point clouds
  • Object modelling
  • Accurate 3D collision models
  • Surface reconstruction
  • Vision for manipulation
  • Deformable objects
  • Object classification based on manipulation experience/capabilities

Manuscript Submission:

Please submit papers to: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ijrr.
Under “Manuscript Type” select “Semantic Perception”. Instructions for authors, with information on multimedia extensions, are available here.

Important dates:

Submission Deadline: July 15, 2010
Completion of First Review: October 15, 2010
Submission of Revised Versions: November 15, 2010
Completion of Final Review: December 15, 2010
Submission of Final Manuscripts: January 15, 2011
Online publication: April 15, 2011

Guest editors:

Radu Bogdan Rusu, Willow Garage
Gary Bradski, Willow Garage
Kurt Konolige, Willow Garage
Michael Beetz, Technische Universitaet Muenchen

Please see the full announcement for more details.

April 27, 2010

Reinventing the Wheel

PhD Comics visits Willow Garage

For more work by Jorge Cham, please visit Ph.D. Comics.

April 26, 2010

Eitan Marder-Eppstein will present The Office Marathon: Robust Navigation in an Indoor Office Environment at the Autonomous Nagivation session. Eitan will discuss our second Milestone, during which the PR2 navigated autonomously for 26.2 miles in a real office environment. Eitan will present the methods required to achieve this level of robustness, including an efficient Voxel-based 3D mapping algorithm that explicitly models unknown space.  Check below for the paper's video results.

       This talk will take place on Tuesday, May 4 (from 9:15 to 9:30 am) in the Egan Center Street Level, Room Cook Hall.

Kurt Konolige will present Projected Texture Stereo at the Range Sensing session on Tuesday morning. He will discuss the development of a practical stereo projector system with excellent depth precision and resolution, especially in the range out to 1.5m.

       This talk will take place on Tuesday, May 4 (from 9:45 to 10:00 am) in the Egan Center Lower Level, Room 1.

Melonee Wise will present Autonomous Door Opening and Plugging in with a Personal Robot at the Personal and Service Robots session.  This paper also discusses our second Milestone, focusing on opening doors and plugging into wall outlets.

       This talk will take place on Tuesday, May 4 (from 2:50 to 3:05 pm) in the Egan Center Lower Level, Room 1.

The authors will present Planning for Autonomous Door Opening with a Mobile Manipulator at the Mobile Manipulation session.  They will discuss the use of graph search-based motion planning to handle the wide variety of conditions under which doors need to be opened.

       This talk will take place on Tuesday, May 4 (from 6:45 to 7:00 pm) in the Egan Center Lower Level, Room 13/14.


Past ICRA Posts:
Coming Up At ICRA 2010: Workshops on Grasping and Manipulation
Coming Up At ICRA 2010: Tutorial on ROS
Coming Up At ICRA 2010: Personal and Service Robots Session

 

April 26, 2010

Robogames 2010 PR2D2

Arena

Robot Power Robo-Magellan Fire Fighting Lego Robogames 2010-4 Robot Xylophone Bubbles  Battle

Thanks to all who stopped by our booth at RoboGames 2010. We had a lot of fun watching the various robot competitions and letting everyone play with PR2, Texai, and ROS. We've posted a small gallery of the fun and festivities on Flickr.

For those of you who didn't get a copy of the Robot Power poster or want more, you can download a copy of your own. Thanks again to Josh Ellingson for the amazing artwork.