Multi-Agent Combinatorial Path Finding with Heterogeneous Task Duration

By: Yuanhang Zhang, Hesheng Wang, Zhongqiang Ren

Multi-Agent Combinatorial Path Finding (MCPF) seeks collision-free paths for multiple agents from their initial locations to destinations, visiting a set of intermediate target locations in the middle of the paths, while minimizing the sum of arrival times. While a few approaches have been developed to handle MCPF, most of them simply direct the agent to visit the targets without considering the task duration, i.e., the amount of time needed ... more
Multi-Agent Combinatorial Path Finding (MCPF) seeks collision-free paths for multiple agents from their initial locations to destinations, visiting a set of intermediate target locations in the middle of the paths, while minimizing the sum of arrival times. While a few approaches have been developed to handle MCPF, most of them simply direct the agent to visit the targets without considering the task duration, i.e., the amount of time needed for an agent to execute the task (such as picking an item) at a target location. MCPF is NP hard to solve to optimality, and the inclusion of task duration further complicates the problem. This paper investigates heterogeneous task duration, where the duration can be different with respect to both the agents and targets. We develop two methods, where the first method post-processes the paths planned by any MCPF planner to include the task duration and has no solution optimality guarantee; and the second method considers task duration during planning and is able to ensure solution optimality. The numerical and simulation results show that our methods can handle up to 20 agents and 50 targets in the presence of task duration, and can execute the paths subject to robot motion disturbance. less
Decision-theoretic MPC: Motion Planning with Weighted Maneuver
  Preferences Under Uncertainty

By: Ömer Şahin Taş, Philipp Heinrich Brusius, Christoph Stiller

Continuous optimization based motion planners require deciding on a maneuver homotopy before optimizing the trajectory. Under uncertainty, maneuver intentions of other participants can be unclear, and the vehicle might not be able to decide on the most suitable maneuver. This work introduces a method that incorporates multiple maneuver preferences in planning. It optimizes the trajectory by considering weighted maneuver preferences together... more
Continuous optimization based motion planners require deciding on a maneuver homotopy before optimizing the trajectory. Under uncertainty, maneuver intentions of other participants can be unclear, and the vehicle might not be able to decide on the most suitable maneuver. This work introduces a method that incorporates multiple maneuver preferences in planning. It optimizes the trajectory by considering weighted maneuver preferences together with uncertainties ranging from perception to prediction while ensuring the feasibility of a chance-constrained fallback option. Evaluations in both driving experiments and simulation studies show enhanced interaction capabilities and comfort levels compared to conventional planners, which consider only a single maneuver. less
Dynamic Grasping of Unknown Objects with a Multi-Fingered Hand

By: Yannick Burkhardt, Qian Feng, Karan Sharma, Zhaopeng Chen, Alois Knoll

An important prerequisite for autonomous robots is their ability to reliably grasp a wide variety of objects. Most state-of-the-art systems employ specialized or simple end-effectors, such as two-jaw grippers, which severely limit the range of objects to manipulate. Additionally, they conventionally require a structured and fully predictable environment while the vast majority of our world is complex, unstructured, and dynamic. This paper p... more
An important prerequisite for autonomous robots is their ability to reliably grasp a wide variety of objects. Most state-of-the-art systems employ specialized or simple end-effectors, such as two-jaw grippers, which severely limit the range of objects to manipulate. Additionally, they conventionally require a structured and fully predictable environment while the vast majority of our world is complex, unstructured, and dynamic. This paper presents an implementation to overcome both issues. Firstly, the integration of a five-finger hand enhances the variety of possible grasps and manipulable objects. This kinematically complex end-effector is controlled by a deep learning based generative grasping network. The required virtual model of the unknown target object is iteratively completed by processing visual sensor data. Secondly, this visual feedback is employed to realize closed-loop servo control which compensates for external disturbances. Our experiments on real hardware confirm the system's capability to reliably grasp unknown dynamic target objects without a priori knowledge of their trajectories. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first method to achieve dynamic multi-fingered grasping for unknown objects. A video of the experiments is available at https://youtu.be/Ut28yM1gnvI. less
Autonomous 3D Exploration in Large-Scale Environments with Dynamic
  Obstacles

By: Emil Wiman, Ludvig Widén, Mattias Tiger, Fredrik Heintz

Exploration in dynamic and uncertain real-world environments is an open problem in robotics and constitutes a foundational capability of autonomous systems operating in most of the real world. While 3D exploration planning has been extensively studied, the environments are assumed static or only reactive collision avoidance is carried out. We propose a novel approach to not only avoid dynamic obstacles but also include them in the plan itse... more
Exploration in dynamic and uncertain real-world environments is an open problem in robotics and constitutes a foundational capability of autonomous systems operating in most of the real world. While 3D exploration planning has been extensively studied, the environments are assumed static or only reactive collision avoidance is carried out. We propose a novel approach to not only avoid dynamic obstacles but also include them in the plan itself, to exploit the dynamic environment in the agent's favor. The proposed planner, Dynamic Autonomous Exploration Planner (DAEP), extends AEP to explicitly plan with respect to dynamic obstacles. To thoroughly evaluate exploration planners in such settings we propose a new enhanced benchmark suite with several dynamic environments, including large-scale outdoor environments. DAEP outperform state-of-the-art planners in dynamic and large-scale environments. DAEP is shown to be more effective at both exploration and collision avoidance. less
ProcNet: Deep Predictive Coding Model for Robust-to-occlusion Visual
  Segmentation and Pose Estimation

By: Michael Zechmair, Alban Bornet, Yannick Morel

Systems involving human-robot collaboration necessarily require that steps be taken to ensure safety of the participating human. This is usually achievable if accurate, reliable estimates of the human's pose are available. In this paper, we present a deep Predictive Coding (PC) model supporting visual segmentation, which we extend to pursue pose estimation. The model is designed to offer robustness to the type of transient occlusion natural... more
Systems involving human-robot collaboration necessarily require that steps be taken to ensure safety of the participating human. This is usually achievable if accurate, reliable estimates of the human's pose are available. In this paper, we present a deep Predictive Coding (PC) model supporting visual segmentation, which we extend to pursue pose estimation. The model is designed to offer robustness to the type of transient occlusion naturally occurring when human and robot are operating in close proximity to one another. Impact on performance of relevant model parameters is assessed, and comparison to an alternate pose estimation model (NVIDIA's PoseCNN) illustrates efficacy of the proposed approach. less
er.autopilot 1.0: The Full Autonomous Stack for Oval Racing at High
  Speeds

By: Ayoub Raji, Danilo Caporale, Francesco Gatti, Andrea Giove, Micaela Verucchi, Davide Malatesta, Nicola Musiu, Alessandro Toschi, Silviu Roberto Popitanu, Fabio Bagni, Massimiliano Bosi, Alexander Liniger, Marko Bertogna, Daniele Morra, Francesco Amerotti, Luca Bartoli, Federico Martello, Riccardo Porta

The Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) brought together for the first time in history nine autonomous racing teams competing at unprecedented speed and in head-to-head scenario, using independently developed software on open-wheel racecars. This paper presents the complete software architecture used by team TII EuroRacing (TII-ER), covering all the modules needed to avoid static obstacles, perform active overtakes and reach speeds above 75 m/s... more
The Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) brought together for the first time in history nine autonomous racing teams competing at unprecedented speed and in head-to-head scenario, using independently developed software on open-wheel racecars. This paper presents the complete software architecture used by team TII EuroRacing (TII-ER), covering all the modules needed to avoid static obstacles, perform active overtakes and reach speeds above 75 m/s (270 km/h). In addition to the most common modules related to perception, planning, and control, we discuss the approaches used for vehicle dynamics modelling, simulation, telemetry, and safety. Overall results and the performance of each module are described, as well as the lessons learned during the first two events of the competition on oval tracks, where the team placed respectively second and third. less
Do we need scan-matching in radar odometry?

By: Vladimír Kubelka, Emil Fritz, Martin Magnusson

There is a current increase in the development of "4D" Doppler-capable radar and lidar range sensors that produce 3D point clouds where all points also have information about the radial velocity relative to the sensor. 4D radars in particular are interesting for object perception and navigation in low-visibility conditions (dust, smoke) where lidars and cameras typically fail. With the advent of high-resolution Doppler-capable radars comes ... more
There is a current increase in the development of "4D" Doppler-capable radar and lidar range sensors that produce 3D point clouds where all points also have information about the radial velocity relative to the sensor. 4D radars in particular are interesting for object perception and navigation in low-visibility conditions (dust, smoke) where lidars and cameras typically fail. With the advent of high-resolution Doppler-capable radars comes the possibility of estimating odometry from single point clouds, foregoing the need for scan registration which is error-prone in feature-sparse field environments. We compare several odometry estimation methods, from direct integration of Doppler/IMU data and Kalman filter sensor fusion to 3D scan-to-scan and scan-to-map registration, on three datasets with data from two recent 4D radars and two IMUs. Surprisingly, our results show that the odometry from Doppler and IMU data alone give similar or better results than 3D point cloud registration. In our experiments, the average position error can be as low as 0.3% over 1.8 and 4.5km trajectories. That allows accurate estimation of 6DOF ego-motion over long distances also in feature-sparse mine environments. These results are useful not least for applications of navigation with resource-constrained robot platforms in feature-sparse and low-visibility conditions such as mining, construction, and search & rescue operations. less
Development and Characteristics of a Highly Biomimetic Robotic Shoulder
  Through Bionics-Inspired Optimization

By: Haosen Yang, Guowu Wei, Lei Ren

This paper critically analyzes conventional and biomimetic robotic arms, underscoring the trade-offs between size, motion range, and load capacity in current biomimetic models. By delving into the human shoulder's mechanical intelligence, particularly the glenohumeral joint's intricate features such as its unique ball-and-socket structure and self-locking mechanism, we pinpoint innovations that bolster both stability and mobility while main... more
This paper critically analyzes conventional and biomimetic robotic arms, underscoring the trade-offs between size, motion range, and load capacity in current biomimetic models. By delving into the human shoulder's mechanical intelligence, particularly the glenohumeral joint's intricate features such as its unique ball-and-socket structure and self-locking mechanism, we pinpoint innovations that bolster both stability and mobility while maintaining compactness. To substantiate these insights, we present a groundbreaking biomimetic robotic glenohumeral joint that authentically mirrors human musculoskeletal elements, from ligaments to tendons, integrating the biological joint's mechanical intelligence. Our exhaustive simulations and tests reveal enhanced flexibility and load capacity for the robotic joint. The advanced robotic arm demonstrates notable capabilities, including a significant range of motions and a 4 kg payload capacity, even exerting over 1.5 Nm torque. This study not only confirms the human shoulder joint's mechanical innovations but also introduces a pioneering design for a next-generation biomimetic robotic arm, setting a new benchmark in robotic technology. less
Enhancing the Performance of a Biomimetic Robotic Elbow-and-Forearm
  System Through Bionics-Inspired Optimization

By: Haosen Yang, Guowu Wei, Lei Ren

This paper delineates the formulation and verification of an innovative robotic forearm and elbow design, mirroring the intricate biomechanics of human skeletal and ligament systems. Conventional robotic models often undervalue the substantial function of soft tissues, leading to a compromise between compactness, safety, stability, and range of motion. In contrast, this study proposes a holistic replication of biological joints, encompassin... more
This paper delineates the formulation and verification of an innovative robotic forearm and elbow design, mirroring the intricate biomechanics of human skeletal and ligament systems. Conventional robotic models often undervalue the substantial function of soft tissues, leading to a compromise between compactness, safety, stability, and range of motion. In contrast, this study proposes a holistic replication of biological joints, encompassing bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons, culminating in a biomimetic robot. The research underscores the compact and stable structure of the human forearm, attributable to a tri-bone framework and diverse soft tissues. The methodology involves exhaustive examinations of human anatomy, succeeded by a theoretical exploration of the contribution of soft tissues to the stability of the prototype. The evaluation results unveil remarkable parallels between the range of motion of the robotic joints and their human counterparts. The robotic elbow emulates 98.8% of the biological elbow's range of motion, with high torque capacities of 11.25 Nm (extension) and 24 Nm (flexion). Similarly, the robotic forearm achieves 58.6% of the human forearm's rotational range, generating substantial output torques of 14 Nm (pronation) and 7.8 Nm (supination). Moreover, the prototype exhibits significant load-bearing abilities, resisting a 5kg dumbbell load without substantial displacement. It demonstrates a payload capacity exceeding 4kg and rapid action capabilities, such as lifting a 2kg dumbbell at a speed of 0.74Hz and striking a ping-pong ball at an end-effector speed of 3.2 m/s. This research underscores that a detailed anatomical study can address existing robotic design obstacles, optimize performance and anthropomorphic resemblance, and reaffirm traditional anatomical principles. less
Interactive Motion Planning for Autonomous Vehicles with Joint
  Optimization

By: Yuxiao Chen, Sushant Veer, Peter Karkus, Marco Pavone

In highly interactive driving scenarios, the actions of one agent greatly influences those of its neighbors. Planning safe motions for autonomous vehicles in such interactive environments, therefore, requires reasoning about the impact of the ego's intended motion plan on nearby agents' behavior. Deep-learning-based models have recently achieved great success in trajectory prediction and many models in the literature allow for ego-condition... more
In highly interactive driving scenarios, the actions of one agent greatly influences those of its neighbors. Planning safe motions for autonomous vehicles in such interactive environments, therefore, requires reasoning about the impact of the ego's intended motion plan on nearby agents' behavior. Deep-learning-based models have recently achieved great success in trajectory prediction and many models in the literature allow for ego-conditioned prediction. However, leveraging ego-conditioned prediction remains challenging in downstream planning due to the complex nature of neural networks, limiting the planner structure to simple ones, e.g., sampling-based planner. Despite their ability to generate fine-grained high-quality motion plans, it is difficult for gradient-based planning algorithms, such as model predictive control (MPC), to leverage ego-conditioned prediction due to their iterative nature and need for gradient. We present Interactive Joint Planning (IJP) that bridges MPC with learned prediction models in a computationally scalable manner to provide us the best of both the worlds. In particular, IJP jointly optimizes over the behavior of the ego and the surrounding agents and leverages deep-learned prediction models as prediction priors that the join trajectory optimization tries to stay close to. Furthermore, by leveraging homotopy classes, our joint optimizer searches over diverse motion plans to avoid getting stuck at local minima. Closed-loop simulation result shows that IJP significantly outperforms the baselines that are either without joint optimization or running sampling-based planning. less