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CIM's 20th Anniversary Seminar Series

Approaches to Cooperative Manipulation with Mobile Robots


Wes Huang < whuang@cs.rpi.edu >
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Computer Science Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

September 29, 2005 at  2:30 PM
Zames Seminar Room - MC437

Mobile manipulation is an important component of a semi-autonomous robotic system, particularly for tasks required in planetary robotics, decontamination operations, construction, etc. Since many objects in these domains will be larger than what a single robot can handle, cooperative manipulation with two or more mobile robots will be needed.


In this talk, I will first give an overview of research in cooperative manipulation with an emphasis on cooperative transport tasks. Then, I'll describe two research projects in my lab that have explored novel approaches to mobile manipulation.


The first project uses two robots with low degree-of-freedom (DOF) non-prehensile manipulators to cooperatively carry elongated objects. Most mobile manipulators rigidly grasp the object and consequently require manipulators with at least two-DOF to provide some sort of compliance between the object and the mobile base. In contrast, our non-prehensile (i.e., non-grasping) manipulators use a "palm" (a flatplate) for an end effector on which one end of the object rests. Errors or disturbances may cause the object to slide on the palms, so the robots must actively control the palm angle and robot spacing to maintain a stable "carry". I will describe a distributed algorithm for this task and present results of our experimental implementation.


The second project explores the integration between manipulation and mobility. Here, we use car-like robots where the chassis is short enough that an object can rest on top of the wheels. Thus, the wheels simultaneously move the robot and manipulate the object. I will describe how maneuvers on a single robot and "handoffs" between two robots can be used to transport an object.