One aspect of the ever-growing need for long term autonomy of multi-robot systems, is ensuring energy sufficiency. In particular, in scenarios where charging facilities are limited, battery-powered robots need to coordinate to share access. In this work we extend previous results by considering robots that carry out a generic mission while sharing a single charging station, while being affected by air drag and wind fields. Our mission-agnostic framework based on control barrier functions (CBFs) ensures energy sufficiency (i.e., maintaining all robots above a certain voltage threshold) and proper coordination (i.e., ensuring mutually exclusive use of the available charging station). Moreover, we investigate the feasibility requirements of the system in relation to individual robots' properties, as well as air drag and wind effects. We show simulation results that demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed framework.
As the increase in satellite number and variety, satellite ground stations should be required to offer user services in a flexible and efficient manner. Network function virtualization (NFV) can provide a new paradigm to allocate network resources on-demand for user services over the underlying network. However, most of the existing work focuses on the virtual network function (VNF) placement and routing traffic problem for enterprise data center networks, the issue needs to further study in satellite communication scenarios. In this paper, we investigate the VNF placement and routing traffic problem in satellite ground station networks. We formulate the problem of resource allocation as an integer nonlinear programming (INLP) model and the objective is to minimize the link resource utilization and the number of servers used. Considering the information about satellite orbit fixation and mission planning, we propose location-aware resource allocation (LARA) algorithms based on Greedy and IBM CPLEX 12.10, respectively. The proposed LARA algorithm can assist in deploying VNFs and routing traffic flows by predicting the running conditions of user services. We evaluate the performance of our proposed LARA algorithm in three networks of Fat-Tree, BCube, and VL2. Simulation results show that our proposed LARA algorithm performs better than that without prediction, and can effectively decrease the average resource utilization of satellite ground station networks.
In this paper, we introduce a new large-scale face database from KIST, denoted as K-FACE, and describe a novel capturing device specifically designed to obtain the data. The K-FACE database contains more than 1 million high-quality images of 1,000 subjects selected by considering the ratio of gender and age groups. It includes a variety of attributes, including 27 poses, 35 lighting conditions, three expressions, and occlusions by the combination of five types of accessories. As the K-FACE database is systematically constructed through a hemispherical capturing system with elaborate lighting control and multiple cameras, it is possible to accurately analyze the effects of factors that cause performance degradation, such as poses, lighting changes, and accessories. We consider not only the balance of external environmental factors, such as pose and lighting, but also the balance of personal characteristics such as gender and age group. The gender ratio is the same, while the age groups of subjects are uniformly distributed from the 20s to 50s for both genders. The K-FACE database can be extensively utilized in various vision tasks, such as face recognition, face frontalization, illumination normalization, face age estimation, and three-dimensional face model generation. We expect systematic diversity and uniformity of the K-FACE database to promote these research fields.
This paper considers the problem of multi-robot safe mission planning in uncertain dynamic environments. This problem arises in several applications including safety-critical exploration, surveillance, and emergency rescue missions. Computation of a multi-robot optimal control policy is challenging not only because of the complexity of incorporating dynamic uncertainties while planning, but also because of the exponential growth in problem size as a function of the number of robots. Leveraging recent works obtaining a tractable safety maximizing plan for a single robot, we propose a scalable two-stage framework to solve the problem at hand. Specifically, the problem is split into a low-level single-agent planning problem and a high-level task allocation problem. The low-level problem uses an efficient approximation of stochastic reachability for a Markov decision process to handle the dynamic uncertainty. The task allocation, on the other hand, is solved using polynomial-time forward and reverse greedy heuristics. The safety objective of our multi-robot safe planning problem allows an implementation of the greedy heuristics through a distributed auction-based approach. Moreover, by leveraging the properties of the safety objective function, we ensure provable performance bounds on the safety of the approximate solutions proposed by these two heuristics. Our result is illustrated through case studies.
Deep learning provides a powerful framework for automated acquisition of complex robotic motions. However, despite a certain degree of generalization, the need for vast amounts of training data depending on the work-object position is an obstacle to industrial applications. Therefore, a robot motion-generation model that can respond to a variety of work-object positions with a small amount of training data is necessary. In this paper, we propose a method robust to changes in object position by automatically extracting spatial attention points in the image for the robot task and generating motions on the basis of their positions. We demonstrate our method with an LBR iiwa 7R1400 robot arm on a picking task and a pick-and-place task at various positions in various situations. In each task, the spatial attention points are obtained for the work objects that are important to the task. Our method is robust to changes in object position. Further, it is robust to changes in background, lighting, and obstacles that are not important to the task because it only focuses on positions that are important to the task.
Affordable public transit services are crucial for communities since they enable residents to access employment, education, and other services. Unfortunately, transit services that provide wide coverage tend to suffer from relatively low utilization, which results in high fuel usage per passenger per mile, leading to high operating costs and environmental impact. Electric vehicles (EVs) can reduce energy costs and environmental impact, but most public transit agencies have to employ them in combination with conventional, internal-combustion engine vehicles due to the high upfront costs of EVs. To make the best use of such a mixed fleet of vehicles, transit agencies need to optimize route assignments and charging schedules, which presents a challenging problem for large transit networks. We introduce a novel problem formulation to minimize fuel and electricity use by assigning vehicles to transit trips and scheduling them for charging, while serving an existing fixed-route transit schedule. We present an integer program for optimal assignment and scheduling, and we propose polynomial-time heuristic and meta-heuristic algorithms for larger networks. We evaluate our algorithms on the public transit service of Chattanooga, TN using operational data collected from transit vehicles. Our results show that the proposed algorithms are scalable and can reduce energy use and, hence, environmental impact and operational costs. For Chattanooga, the proposed algorithms can save $145,635 in energy costs and 576.7 metric tons of CO2 emission annually.
Autonomous ultrasound (US) acquisition is an important yet challenging task, as it involves interpretation of the highly complex and variable images and their spatial relationships. In this work, we propose a deep reinforcement learning framework to autonomously control the 6-D pose of a virtual US probe based on real-time image feedback to navigate towards the standard scan planes under the restrictions in real-world US scans. Furthermore, we propose a confidence-based approach to encode the optimization of image quality in the learning process. We validate our method in a simulation environment built with real-world data collected in the US imaging of the spine. Experimental results demonstrate that our method can perform reproducible US probe navigation towards the standard scan plane with an accuracy of $4.91mm/4.65^\circ$ in the intra-patient setting, and accomplish the task in the intra- and inter-patient settings with a success rate of $92\%$ and $46\%$, respectively. The results also show that the introduction of image quality optimization in our method can effectively improve the navigation performance.
As a user-friendly and straightforward solution for robot trajectory generation, imitation learning has been viewed as a vital direction in the context of robot skill learning. In contrast to unconstrained imitation learning which ignores possible internal and external constraints arising from environments and robot kinematics/dynamics, recent works on constrained imitation learning allow for transferring human skills to unstructured scenarios, further enlarging the application domain of imitation learning. While various constraints have been studied, e.g., joint limits, obstacle avoidance and plane constraints, the problem of nonlinear hard constraints has not been well-addressed. In this paper, we propose extended kernelized movement primitives (EKMP) to cope with most of the key problems in imitation learning, including nonlinear hard constraints. Specifically, EKMP is capable of learning the probabilistic features of multiple demonstrations, adapting the learned skills towards arbitrary desired points in terms of joint position and velocity, avoiding obstacles at the level of robot links, as well as satisfying arbitrary linear and nonlinear, equality and inequality hard constraints. Besides, the connections between EKMP and state-of-the-art motion planning approaches are discussed. Several evaluations including the planning of joint trajectories for a 7-DoF robotic arm are provided to verify the effectiveness of our framework.
In practical applications, autonomous quadrotors are still facing significant challenges, such as the detection and avoidance of very small and even dynamic obstacles (e.g., tree branches, power lines). In this paper, we propose a compact, integrated, and fully autonomous quadrotor system, which can fly safely in cluttered environments while avoiding dynamic small obstacles. Our quadrotor platform is equipped with a forward-looking three-dimensional (3D) light detection and ranging (lidar) sensor to perceive the environment and an onboard embedded computer to perform all the estimation, mapping, and planning tasks. Specifically, the computer estimates the current pose of the UAV, maintains a local map (time-accumulated point clouds KD-Trees), and computes a safe trajectory using kinodynamic A* search to the goal point. The whole perception and planning system can run onboard at 50Hz with careful optimization. Various indoor and outdoor experiments show that the system can avoid dynamic small obstacles (down to 20mm diameter bar) while flying at 2m/s in cluttered environments. Our codes and hardware design are open-sourced on Github.
In high dimensional robotic system, the manifold of the valid configuration space often has a complex shape, especially under constraints such as end-effector orientation or static stability. We propose a generative adversarial network approach to learn the distribution of valid robot configurations under such constraints. It can generate configurations that are close to the constraint manifold. We present two applications of this method. First, by learning the conditional distribution with respect to the desired end-effector position, we can do fast inverse kinematics even for very high degrees of freedom (DoF) systems. Then, we use it to generate samples in sampling-based constrained motion planning algorithms to reduce the necessary projection steps, speeding up the computation. We validate the approach in simulation using the 7-DoF Panda manipulator and the 28-DoF humanoid robot Talos.
TraQuad is an autonomous tracking quadcopter capable of tracking any moving (or static) object like cars, humans, other drones or any other object on-the-go. This article describes the applications and advantages of TraQuad and the reduction in cost (to about 250$) that has been achieved so far using the hardware and software capabilities and our custom algorithms wherever needed. This description is backed by strong data and the research analyses which have been drawn out of extant information or conducted on own when necessary. This also describes the development of completely autonomous (even GPS is optional) low-cost drone which can act as a major platform for further developments in automation, transportation, reconnaissance and more. We describe our ROS Gazebo simulator and our STATUS algorithms which form the core of our development of our object tracking drone for generic purposes.