Model-Based and Data-Driven Tools to Harness Uncertainty for Robot Planning and Control

January 26, 2018, Webb 1100

Konstantinos Karydis

UC Riverside, Electrical and Computer Engineering


Robot motion planning and control in real-world settings is hindered, in part, by uncertainty. Dealing with uncertainty is a difficult problem because it invalidates the performance guarantees often available in deterministic cases, while its precise effect on motion cannot be predicted. Further, (autonomous) robot performance often emerges through the interaction of multiple components, mainly including action, perception, and the environment, each entailing different aspects of uncertainty. This talk will focus on two novel tools to harness uncertainty in action and robot-environment interaction. First, deterministic models are extended to stochastic ones to capture the observed variability in robot motion with provable degrees of fidelity. Second, simple data-driven models are used to discover fundamental aspects of robot behavior which when composed can explain more complex and uncertain motion patterns. The derived tools lay the basis for a general framework to quantify the effect of uncertainty on robot motion due to its own actions and physical interactions with the environment, and to establish trade-offs between performance and risk in robot navigation tasks. This framework can help create consistent links between high-level objectives and low-level implementation. Such links would allow for robot navigation in real-world settings with performance certificates, a need that becomes pressing as robotics in consumer applications are rapidly gaining momentum. Dealing with uncertainty is important not only in robotics but also in more general cyber-physical and biological systems; elements of this work may find applications in these domains as well. The main ideas of the framework are fixed using small legged and aerial robots. Reduction in scale magnifies the effect of uncertainty, and thus small robots provide a suitable testbed for the proposed framework. Indeed, uncertainty enters naturally (e.g., inherent uncertain leg-ground interactions, or uncertain aerodynamic effects when flying close to obstacles), while its effect on robot motion is clearly visible. The derived tools enable real-time small legged robot navigation and control, and can push the limits on what palm-sized crawling robots can achieve in applications such as building/pipe inspection, search-and-rescue, and unobtrusive wildlife monitoring.

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Konstantinos Karydis received his Eng. Diploma (honors) in Mechanical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, in 2010, and his Doctoral Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 2015. He subsequently joined the GRASP Lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at University of Pennsylvania as a Post-Doctoral Researcher in Robotics, where he worked with Dr. Vijay Kumar, the Nemirovsky Family Dean of Penn Engineering. In May 2017 he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. He is the recipient of the 2010 Helwig Fellowship offered by the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Delaware, and the 2008 Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY) and Thomaideion Awards.