Finding a Needle in a Specular Haystack

    •  Shroff, N.; Taguchi, Y.; Tuzel, O.; Veeraraghavan, A.; Ramalingam, S.; Okuda, H., "Finding a Needle in a Specular Haystack", IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), DOI: 10.1109/ICRA.2011.5979857, May 2011, pp. 5963-5970.
      BibTeX Download PDF
      • @inproceedings{Shroff2011may,
      • author = {Shroff, N. and Taguchi, Y. and Tuzel, O. and Veeraraghavan, A. and Ramalingam, S. and Okuda, H.},
      • title = {Finding a Needle in a Specular Haystack},
      • booktitle = {IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)},
      • year = 2011,
      • pages = {5963--5970},
      • month = may,
      • doi = {10.1109/ICRA.2011.5979857},
      • url = {}
      • }
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    Computer Vision

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Progress in machine vision algorithms has led to widespread adoption of these techniques to automate several industrial assembly tasks. Nevertheless, shiny or specular objects which are common in industrial environments still present a great challenge for vision systems. In this paper, we take a step towards this problem under the context of vision-aided robotic assembly. We show that when the illumination source moves, the specular highlights remain in a region whose radius is inversely proportional to the surface curvature. This allows us to extract regions of the object that have high surface curvature. These points of high curvature can be used as features for specular objects. Further, an inexpensive multi-flash camera (MFC) design can be used to reliably extract these features. We show that one can use multiple views of the object using the MFC in order to triangulate and obtain the 3D location and pose of the shiny objects. Finally, we show a system consisting of a robot arm with an MFC that can perform automated detection and pose estimation of shiny screws within a cluttered bin, achieving position and orientation errors less than 0.5 mm and 0.8 respectively.