Visible to the public CPS: Synergy: Collaborative Research: High-Level Perception and Control for Autonomous Reconfigurable Modular RobotsConflict Detection Enabled

Project Details
Lead PI:Mark Yim
Performance Period:10/01/13 - 09/30/16
Institution(s):University of Pennsylvania
Sponsor(s):National Science Foundation
Award Number:1329620
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Abstract: The goal of the project is the development of the theory, hardware and computational infrastructure that will enable automatically transforming user-defined, high-level tasks such as inspection of hazardous environments and object retrieval, into provably-correct control for modular robots. Modular robots are composed of simple individual modules; while a single module has limited capabilities, connecting multiple modules in different configurations allows the system to perform complex actions such as climbing, manipulating objects, traveling in unstructured environments and self-reconfiguring (breaking into multiple independent robots and reassembling into larger structures). The project includes (i) defining and populating a large library of perception and actuation building blocks both manually through educational activities and automatically through novel algorithms, (ii) creating automated tools to assign values to probabilistic metrics associated with the performance of library components, (iii) developing a grammar and automated tools for control synthesis that sequence different components of the library to accomplish higher level tasks, if possible, or provide feedback to the user if the task cannot be accomplished and (iv) designing and building a novel modular robot platform capable of rapid and robust self-reconfiguration. This research will have several outcomes. First, it will lay the foundations for making modular robots easily controlled by anyone. This will enrich the robotic industry with new types of robots with unique capabilities. Second, the research will create novel algorithms that tightly combine perception, control and hardware capabilities. Finally, this project will create an open-source infrastructure that will allow the public to contribute basic controllers to the library thus promoting general research and social interest in robotics and engineering.