crossposted from willowgarage.com
Ben Cohen of University of Pennsylvania has returned to the GRASP Lab after his summer internship here at Willow Garage. At Penn, Ben researches search-based methods for path planning for robotic manipulators. During his time here, he worked on two motion planners: one for door opening and one for manipulation. When compared to the door planner used in Milestone 2, the new door planner uses SBPL (Search-Based Planning Library) to give the PR2 two new capabilities. First, it allows the robot to not only push doors open, but also pull. Second, the door planner allows the robot to open doors, regardless of hinge position -- left or right side of the door. These two novel capabilities allow for robust, more universal door opening.
Additionally, Ben's work on a manipulation planner involved integrating SBPL into the move_arm ROS package, which integrates a variety of motion planners. Ben tested the SBPL planner on the PR2's arms, and added the supporting software needed to perform collision checking. With collision checking in place, SBPL can more readily handle cluttered, complex environments.
Here are Ben's end-of-summer presentation slides discussing his planning work (Download PDF from ROS.org):