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To safely navigate unknown environments; robots must accurately perceive dynamic obstacles. Instead of directly measuring the scene depth with a LiDAR sensor; we explore the use of a much cheaper and higher resolution sensor: programmable light curtains. Light curtains are controllable depth sensors that sense only along a surface that a user selects. We use light curtains to estimate the safety envelope of a scene: a hypothetical surface that separates the robot from all obstacles. We show that generating light curtains that sense random locations (from a particular distribution) can quickly discover the safety envelope for scenes with unknown objects. Importantly; we produce theoretical safety guarantees on the probability of detecting an obstacle using random curtains. We combine random curtains with a machine learning based model that forecasts and tracks the motion of the safety envelope efficiently. Our method accurately estimates safety envelopes while providing probabilistic safety guarantees that can be used to certify the efficacy of a robot perception system to detect and avoid dynamic obstacles. We evaluate our approach in a simulated urban driving environment and a real-world environment with moving pedestrians using a light curtain device and show that we can estimate safety envelopes efficiently and effectively.
Visually-Grounded Library of Behaviors for Manipulating Diverse Objects across Diverse Configurations and ViewsWe propose a visually-grounded library of behaviors approach for learning to manipulate diverse objects across varying initial and goal configurations and camera placements. Our key innovation is to disentangle the standard image-to-action mapping into two separate modules that use different types of perceptual input:(1) a behavior selector which conditions on intrinsic and semantically-rich object appearance features to select the behaviors that can successfully perform the desired tasks on the object in hand, and (2) a library of behaviors each of which conditions on extrinsic and abstract object properties, such as object location and pose, to predict actions to execute over time. The selector uses a semantically-rich 3D object feature representation extracted from images in a differential end-to-end manner. This representation is trained to be view-invariant and affordance-aware using self-supervision, by predicting varying views and successful object manipulations. We test our framework on pushing and grasping diverse objects in simulation as well as transporting rigid, granular, and liquid food ingredients in a real robot setup. Our model outperforms image-to-action mappings that do not factorize static and dynamic object properties. We further ablate the contribution of the selector's input and show the benefits of the proposed view-predictive, affordance-aware 3D visual object representations.