A Planning System for Robot Construction Tasks

Unknown author (1973-05)

This report describes research done at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Support for the laboratory's artificial intelligence research is provided in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense under Office of Naval Research contract N00014-70-A-0362-0005. This report reproduces a thesis of the same title submitted to the Department of Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science and Master of Science, June 1973.

Working Paper

This paper describes BUILD, a computer program which generates plans for building specified structures out of simple objects such as toy blocks. A powerful heuristic control structure enables BUILD to use a number of sophisticated construction techniques in its plans. Among these are the incorporation of pre-existing structure into the final design, pre-assembly of movable sub-structures on the table, and the use of extra blocks as temporary supports and counterweights in the course of construction. Build does its planning in a modeled 3-space in which blocks of various shapes and sizes can be represented in any orientation and location. The modeling system can maintain several world models at once, and contains modules for displaying states, testing them for inter-object contact and collision, and for checking the stability of complex structure involving frictional forces. Various alternative approaches are discussed, and suggestions are included for the extension of BUILD-like systems to other domains. Also discussed are the merits of BUILD's implementation language, CONNIVER, for this type of problem solving.