Robot Manipulation in Human Environments

Unknown author (2007-01-16)

PhD thesis

Human environments present special challenges for robot manipulation. They are often dynamic, difficult to predict, and beyond the control of a robot engineer. Fortunately, many characteristics of these settings can be used to a robot's advantage. Human environments are typically populated by people, and a robot can rely on the guidance and assistance of a human collaborator. Everyday objects exhibit common, task-relevant features that reduce the cognitive load required for the object's use. Many tasks can be achieved through the detection and control of these sparse perceptual features. And finally, a robot is more than a passive observer of the world. It can use its body to reduce its perceptual uncertainty about the world.In this thesis we present advances in robot manipulation that address the unique challenges of human environments. We describe the design of a humanoid robot named Domo, develop methods that allow Domo to assist a person in everyday tasks, and discuss general strategies for building robots that work alongside people in their homes and workplaces.