During in-hand manipulation, robots must be able to continuously estimate the pose of the object in order to generate appropriate control actions. The performance of algorithms for pose estimation hinges on the robot's sensors being able to detect discriminative geometric object features, but previous sensing modalities are unable to make such measurements robustly. The robot's fingers can occlude the view of environment- or robot-mounted image sensors, and tactile sensors can only measure at the local areas of contact. Motivated by fingertip-embedded proximity sensors' robustness to occlusion and ability to measure beyond the local areas of contact, we present the first evaluation of proximity sensor based pose estimation for in-hand manipulation. We develop a novel two-fingered hand with fingertip-embedded optical time-of-flight proximity sensors as a testbed for pose estimation during planar in-hand manipulation. Here, the in-hand manipulation task consists of the robot moving a cylindrical object from one end of its workspace to the other. We demonstrate, with statistical significance, that proximity-sensor based pose estimation via particle filtering during in-hand manipulation: a) exhibits 50% lower average pose error than a tactile-sensor based baseline; b) empowers a model predictive controller to achieve 30% lower final positioning error compared to when using tactile-sensormore »
Multimodal Proximity and Visuotactile Sensing With a Selectively Transmissive Soft Membrane
The most common sensing modalities found in a robot perception system are vision and touch, which together can provide global and highly localized data for manipulation. However, these sensing modalities often fail to adequately capture the behavior of target objects during the critical moments as they transition out of static, controlled contact with an end-effector to dynamic and uncontrolled motion. In this work, we present a novel multimodal visuotactile sensor that provides simultaneous visuotactile and proximity depth data. The sensor integrates an RGB camera and air pressure sensor to sense touch with an infrared time-of-flight (ToF) camera to sense proximity by leveraging a selectively transmissive soft membrane to enable the dual sensing modalities. We present the mechanical design, fabrication techniques, algorithm implementations, and evaluation of the sensor's tactile and proximity modalities. The sensor is demonstrated in three open-loop robotic tasks: approaching and contacting an object, catching, and throwing. The fusion of tactile and proximity data could be used to capture key information about a target object's transition behavior for sensor-based control in dynamic manipulation.
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- 022 IEEE 5th International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft)
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- 802 to 808
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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