Humanoid robots can now figure out if they can lift weights

“We were particularly interested in how a humanoid robot could reason about the possibility of picking up a box of unknowns

physical parameters, - told TechXploreYuanfeng Han, one of the researchers who conducted the study. "To accomplish such a complex task, the robot usually needs to first determine the physical parameters of the box, and then create a safe and stable trajectory of the whole body to lift the box."

The process by which the robot generatesthe trajectories that allow him to lift objects can be computationally intensive. In fact, humanoid robots usually have more freedom, and yet the movement that their bodies require to lift an object must meet several restrictions. This means that if the box is too heavy or its center of mass is too far from the robot, it will most likely be unable to complete this movement.

“Think about us humans as we tryfigure out if we can lift a heavy object, such as a dumbbell, explained Khan. - First, we interact with the dumbbell to get a certain sense of the object. Then, based on our previous experience, we kind of know if it is too heavy for us to lift or not. Likewise, our method begins by constructing a trajectory table that stores the various allowable lifting movements for the robot, corresponding to the physical range of the box using simulation. The robot then considers this table as information from its previous experience. "

Credit: National University of Singapore and Johns Hopkins University

A technique developed by Khan in collaboration withby his colleague Ruisin Li and his supervisor Gregory S. Chirikjian (professor and head of the mechanical engineering department at NUS), allows the robot to get an idea of ​​the inertial parameters of the box after a brief interaction. The robot then revisits the trajectory table created by this method and checks if it includes a lifting motion that would allow it to lift the box with these calculated parameters.

If such a motion or trajectory exists, thenlifting of the box is considered possible and the robot can immediately complete the task. If not, then the robot considers the task to be beyond its capabilities.

“Our method can significantly improvework efficiency when performing practical pick and place tasks, especially if they are repeated, Khan concludes. "In our future work, we plan to apply the approach to various objects or lifting tasks."

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