Hierarchical Manipulation for Constructing Free Standing Structures

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In order for a robot to solve complex tasks in real world, it needs to compute discrete, high-level strategies that can be translated into continuous movement trajectories. These problems become

In order for a robot to solve complex tasks in real world, it needs to compute discrete, high-level strategies that can be translated into continuous movement trajectories. These problems become increasingly difficult with increasing numbers of objects and domain constraints, as well as with the increasing degrees of freedom of robotic manipulator arms.

The first part of this thesis develops and investigates new methods for addressing these problems through hierarchical task and motion planning for manipulation with a focus on autonomous construction of free-standing structures using precision-cut planks. These planks can be arranged in various orientations to design complex structures; reliably and autonomously building such structures from scratch is computationally intractable due to the long planning horizon and the infinite branching factor of possible grasps and placements that the robot could make.

An abstract representation is developed for this class of problems and show how pose generators can be used to autonomously compute feasible robot motion plans for constructing a given structure. The approach was evaluated through simulation and on a real ABB YuMi robot. Results show that hierarchical algorithms for planning can effectively overcome the computational barriers to solving such problems.

The second part of this thesis proposes a deep learning-based algorithm to identify critical regions for motion planning. Further investigation is done whether these learned critical regions can be translated to learn high-level landmark actions for automated planning.