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GRASP Special Seminar – Chad C. Kessens, University of Maryland, “Rapid Mobile Manipulation: Autonomous Self-Righting, Door Opening, and Grasping”

December 1, 2011 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Abstract: The manipulation of unknown objects in
unknown environments remains a central challenge in the field of
robotics.  Rapid and robust solutions are needed if we are to transform
robots from tools to teammates.  Therefore, the goal of this work is to
develop principles for combining control algorithms and techniques with
hardware design for efficient, autonomous mobility and manipulation in
a rapid and robust way.  Three projects in this area will be
highlighted.  First, the ability of a mobile robot to autonomously
self-right on planar surfaces will be explored through the lens of a
configuration space map.  Created off-line, this map can be converted
into a graph for rapid on-line path planning.  Second, an approach
utilizing compliance for rapid autonomous door opening will be
described.  Here, we turn the manipulation problem on its head,
treating the door hinge as the base of an open chain serial
manipulator, with the mobility platform as the end effector.  Finally,
the development of a self-sealing suction cup array for rapid
grasping will be presented.  The goal of this work is to simultaneously
reduce the amount of planning time required to obtain a robust grasp
while also expanding the range of object shapes and sizes able to be
grasped by a single end effector.  In general, manipulation is
a capability with the capacity to greatly expand a robot’s utility, and
so this work attempts to cover the rapid manipulation of the self,
constrained objects, and free objects.


Chad C. Kessens – Chad earned his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
in 2003 and his M.S. degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2005.
He has been pursuing his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, under the direction of Professor Jaydev Desai since 2008.
In 2002, Chad worked on the AXEL program at NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), investigating potential designs of a
ground contact caster
to support the motion of the robot.
For his Master’s thesis, he developed an impact device for
studying traumatic brain injury (TBI) in small rodents, and analyzed
various dynamic loading conditions on the brain using finite element
In 2005, he began working for the Battelle Memorial Institute as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Explosives, and Nuclear (CBRNE) defense contractor.
In 2008, he moved to Motile Robotics, Inc. as a robotic
manipulation researcher where he began investigating autonomous door
opening and rapid grasping. There he developed a self-sealing suction
cup, for which he has a patent pending.
He joined the staff at the
United States Army Research Laboratory in 2010, where he continues
these projects alongside a new project on autonomous self-righting.


December 1, 2011
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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