Rapid Categorization of Object Properties from Incidental Contact with a Tactile Sensing Robot Arm,
Rehg, James M.
Kemp, Charles C.
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We demonstrate that data-driven methods can be used to rapidly categorize objects encountered through incidental contact on a robot arm. Allowing incidental contact with surrounding objects has benefits during manipulation such as increasing the workspace during reaching tasks. The information obtained from such contact, if available online, can potentially be used to map the environment and help in manipulation tasks. In this paper, we address this problem of online categorization using incidental contact during goal oriented motion. In cluttered environments, the detailed internal structure of clutter can be difficult to infer, but the environment type is often apparent. In a randomized cluttered environment of known object types and “outliers”, our approach uses Hidden Markov Models to capture the dynamic robot-environment interactions and to categorize objects based on the interactions. We combined leaf and trunk objects to create artificial foliage as a test environment. We collected data using a skin-sensor on the robot’s forearm while it reached into clutter. Our algorithm classifies the objects rapidly with low computation time and few data-samples. Using a taxel-by-taxel classification approach, we can successfully categorize simultaneous contacts with multiple objects and can also identify outlier objects in the environment based on the prior associated with an object’s likelihood in the given environment.