TALK  |  Sensitive Manipulation

Date released: Nov 15, 2012


  •  TALK   Sensitive Manipulation
  • Date & Time:

    Thursday, November 15, 2012; 12:00 PM

  • Abstract:

    This talk presents an alternative approach to robotic manipulation. In this approach, manipulation is mainly guided by tactile feedback as opposed to vision. The motivation behind this approach stems from the fact that manipulating an object necessarily implies coming into contact with it. As a result, directly sensing physical contact seems more important than vision to control the interaction of the object and the robot. In this work, the traditional approach of a highly precise arm guided by a vision system is replaced by one that uses a low mechanical impedance arm with dense tactile sensing and exploration capabilities.

    The robots OBRERO and GoBot have been built to implement this approach. We have developed a novel tactile sensing technology and mounted our sensors on the robots' hands. These sensors are biologically inspired and present adequate features for manipulation. The success of this approach is shown by picking up objects in a poorly modeled environment. This task, simple for humans, has been a challenge for robots. The robot can deal with new, unmodeled objects. Specifically, OBRERO can gently contact, explore, lift, and place an object in a different location. It can also detect basic slippage and external forces acting on an object while it is held. These tasks can be performed successfully with very light objects, without fixtures, and on slippery surfaces. Similarly, GoBot is capable of manipulating small objects such as the stones in the game GO. Both OBRERO and GoBot perform all of their manipulations using tactile feedback.

  • Speaker:

    Dr. Eduardo Torres-Jara
    Worcester Polytechnic Institute

    Eduardo Torres-Jara is currently an Assistant Professor at the Robotics Engineering program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Before joining WPI, he was a Post-Doctoral Associate at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. (CSAIL) working with Profs. R. Brooks and D. Rus., and the Harvard Microrobotics Lab. with Prof. R. Wood. He graduated with his PhD from MIT in 2007 where he developed "Sensitive Manipulation," an approach to robotic manipulation based on tactile feedback. A key step in implementing this approach was his development of a compliant tactile sensors patented by MIT.

    Prof. Torres-Jara received a NASA Tech Brief Award (2011) and was an invited Speaker to the 2011 Japan-America Frontiers of Engineering Symposium organized by the NAE and the Japanese Engineering Academy, (2011). Before attending MIT, Dr. Torres-Jara co-founded three startups in his native country Ecuador in the areas of software, telecommunications, and electronic hardware.

  • MERL Host:

    Jay Thornton

  • Research Area:

    Computer Vision