Abstract: In this talk, I will present a number of methods for increasing the versatility of mobile manipulators, from novel hand designs and grasp
planning algorithms to Human-in-the-Loop manipulation and its applications
in assistive robotics. I will introduce the concept of eigengrasps as the
bases of a linear hand posture subspace, and use it to show that, from a grasp planning perspective, a hand does not have to be complex in order to
be versatile. I will then present the Velo Gripper, a novel underactuated
design that uses passive adaptation to the object and the environment to
complement the traditional sense-plan-and-act loop. Beyond the
end-effector, I will present sensing and planning methods for manipulation
under uncertainty and through clutter. Finally, I will present our results in Human-in-the-Loop manipulation, enabling non-experts to operate robots
performing complex tasks in difficult environments. Among other
applications, this approach can enable mobile robots to assist people with
motor impairments. I will present results where our robot, operated by a motor impaired person through a head-tracker single-button mouse, performed
varied and unscripted manipulation tasks in a real home, and acted as a
medium for social interaction.
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