Wednesday, March 21, 2012

CSE 599 Personal Robotics Clinic: Algorithms & Applications

The Personal Computer allowed ordinary people to use computers for countless new applications, most of which had not been imagined when PCs first emerged.  Today's Personal Robotics researchers are imagining and prototyping tomorrow's robotic applications, and the algorithms that these applications need.

In this 'seminar-clinic' course, students will read and present recent papers on Personal Robotics applications.  They will also implement and present classic robotics algorithms that are relevant to Personal Robotics.  The term 'clinic' refers to the hands on software implementation projects.  The goal of the course as a whole is to stimulate thinking about new Personal Robotics applications, and build the skills needed to implement them.

Students will be provided with a custom simulation / visualization environment (written in Python running on Ubuntu Linux, and available as a pre-configured Virtual Machine) to support their implementation of path planning algorithms.  Other tools and environments (such as Matlab, C++, or Java) can be used at the student's discretion.  In order to keep the focus on learning the algorithms, rather than on learning libraries, the course will NOT emphasize existing packages or libraries (such as ROS).

The algorithms subject matter in the course will adapt to student interests, but will include

  • path planning algorithms including A*, RRT (Rapidly Exploring Random Tree) search, and planners based on solving the Laplace equation, and may include
  • path smoothing
  • arm forward kinematics
  • arm inverse kinematics (direct and Jacobian iterative methods)
  • arm planning
  • collision detection algorithms
  • grasping

The course will not focus on vision, learning, or control, topics that are addressed in other UW courses.

The course will include a final project, which can be chosen by the student, or suggested by the instructor.  The final project will be similar to the earlier implementation projects, but greater in scope.  In some cases it will be an extension of the earlier projects.

Students will be expected to participate actively.  Each student will
 present application papers (twice)
 implement and present an algorithm (twice)
 implement and present a final project

Students will not all implement the same algorithms, to increase the breadth of topics that the group as a whole explores.  The number of student presentations will be reduced if necessary for scheduling reasons.

Instructor: Joshua Smith

Meeting place: CSE 503.  Time: MW 10:30-11:50

3 credits.  Limited to 15 students.  Prerequisites: permission of instructor.  Adventurous undergraduates will be accepted if space permits.

Sample Personal Robotics Readings

Clothing manipulation:

'Bringing Clothing into Desired Configurations with Limited Perception,' Marco Cusumano-Towner, Arjun Singh, Stephen Miller, James F. O'Brien, Pieter Abbeel, ICRA 2011

Mobile manipulation:
Cart Pushing with a Mobile Manipulation System: Towards Navigation with Moveable Objects'
Jonathan Scholz, Sachin Chitta, Bhaskara Marthi, and Maxim Likhachev.  ICRA 2011

Sample Algorithm readings:

RRT Connect: An Efficient Approach to Single-Query Path Planning', Kuffner, LaValle, ICRA 2000

'Space-Filling Trees: A New Perspective on Incremental Search for Motion Planning', James J. Kuffner, Steven M. LaValle, Proc. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2011

Laplace planning:
Path Planning Using Laplace's Equation, Connolly, Burns, Weiss, ICRA, 1990

Arm Kinematics
            Spong Chap 3, Forward Kinematics, the Denavit-Hartenberg Convention

            Direct solution
                         Spong Chap 4, Inverse Kinematics

            Iterative Jacobian solution

'Overview of Damped Least-Squares Methods for Inverse Kinematics of Robot Manipulators,' Arati S. Deo and Ian D. Walker, J. Intelligent and Robotic Systems, Kluwer 14: 43-68,1995

Monday, March 19, 2012

UW Spring Career Fair - Save the date!

UW Seattle Spring Career Fair
April 10, 2012
3-7pm, Hec Ed Pavilion (Alaska Airlines Arena)

More than 115 employers are registered to attend, and are looking to hire Huskies from a variety of majors for part-time, internship and/or full-time entry level career positions.  Details on those specific employers can be found at and by the first day of Spring Quarter, a full Career Fair Guide will be available on the website that will also outline the positions being hired for by each attending organization.