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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  2. Mechanical search, the finding and extracting of a known target object from a cluttered environment, is a key challenge in automating warehouse, home, retail, and industrial tasks. In this paper, we consider contexts in which occluding objects are to remain untouched, thus minimizing disruptions and avoiding toppling. We assume a 6-DOF robot with an RGBD camera and unicontact suction gripper mounted on its wrist. With this setup, the robot can move both camera and gripper in order to identify a suitable approach vector, reach in to achieve a suction grasp of the target object, and extract it. We present AVPLUG: Approach Vector PLanning for Unicontact Grasping, an algorithm that uses an octree occupancy model and Minkowski sum computation to find a collision-free grasp approach vector. Experiments in simulation and with a physical Fetch robot suggest that AVPLUG finds an approach vector up to 20× faster than a baseline search policy.
  3. Consumer demand for augmented reality (AR) in mobile phone applications, such as the Apple ARKit. Such applications have potential to expand access to robot grasp planning systems such as Dex-Net. AR apps use structure from motion methods to compute a point cloud from a sequence of RGB images taken by the camera as it is moved around an object. However, the resulting point clouds are often noisy due to estimation errors. We present a distributed pipeline, DexNet AR, that allows point clouds to be uploaded to a server in our lab, cleaned, and evaluated by Dex-Net grasp planner to generate a grasp axis that is returned and displayed as an overlay on the object. We implement Dex-Net AR using the iPhone and ARKit and compare results with those generated with high-performance depth sensors. The success rates with AR on harder adversarial objects are higher than traditional depth images.