My research-in-progress at GRASP involves learning useful representations of vision data, including event camera data, that enable control.
MBZIRC 2020: Team Tartans
I was the student lead for CMU Team Tartans competing in the Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge 2020. This competition centers on autonomous robot teams completing tasks in real-world conditions. Specifically, the challenges address airspace safety, construction, and firefighting. Our team focused on 100% autonomous operation, and placed 8th and 4th in Challenges 1 and 2, respectively, placing 7th in the Grand Challenge. Some key achievements of our team include: running seven missions in under 20 minutes with our rapid deployment pipeline; popping all five balloons; one of only four teams to pick and place a block with an autonomous UAV; most water dispensed onto an outdoor fire with an autonomous UAV.
Paper accepted to Field Robotics, Special Issue on MBZIRC 2020
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) are often used to perform complimentary tasks for completing team missions, e.g., a UGV opening a door for a UAV, or a UAV scouting an area for a UGV. However, to maximize the benefits of such heterogenous teams, the robots will also need to be capable of performing tasks together, with physical interactions between the UAVs and UGVs.
In this work, we present a collaborative framework for performing robust manipulations using teams of UAVs and UGVs. In particular, we propose a method for jointly placing and stacking objects that exploits the UAV's mobility and the UGV's precise position and force control. The UAV is used to move the block, while the UGV's manipulator provides a surface for aligning and adjusting the block. The two robots thus reflect the two hands in a bimanual placing task when mating or aligning two surfaces. The sensors from both robots are used to monitor the overall process and detect errors. We evaluated the framework on an accurate block stacking task, in which we achieved 3 of 4 block placement attempts and were able to accurately align the block in instances when it was within the UGV manipulator’s alignment workspace.
Contact Inspection with Fully-Actuated UAVs
Infrastructure inspection is a dangerous job that typically requires heavy machinery and a crew of operators and engineers. There is an opportunity to aid such projects with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). UAVs benefit from high mobility and portability, and a semi-autonomous system could be used by workers to take measurements from bridges, dams, and even large aircraft. While UAVs are traditionally used for sensing from a distance (cameras, lidar), this project worked on taking in-situ measurements with a sonic depth gauge that required second-long contact. My main contributions to this work includes visual servoing to user-selected targets and working with the tilt-hex system, consisting of a fully-actuated hexarotor with tilted rotors.