Date of Original Version

1999

Type

Article

Abstract or Description

In the absence of vision, grasping an object often relies on tactile feedback from the fingertips. As the finger pushes the object, the fingertip can feel the contact point move. If the object is known in advance, from this motion the finger may infer the location of the contact point on the object and thereby the object pose. This paper primarily investigates the problem of determining the pose (orientation and position) and motion (velocity and angular velocity) of a planar object with known geometry from such contact motion generated by pushing.

A dynamic analysis of pushing yields a nonlinear system that relates through contact the object pose and motion to the finger motion. The contact motion on the fingertip thus encodes certain information about the object pose. Nonlinear observability theory is employed to show that such information is sufficient for the finger to ``observe'' not only the pose but also the motion of the object. Therefore a sensing strategy can be realized as an observer of the nonlinear dynamical system. Two observers are subsequently introduced. The first observer, based on the result of Gauthier et al. (1992), has its ``gain'' determined by the solution of a Lyapunov-like equation; it can be activated at any time instant during a push. The second observer, based on Newton's method, solves for the initial (motionless) object pose from three intermediate contact points during a push.

Under the Coulomb friction model, the paper copes with support friction in the plane and/or contact friction between the finger and the object. Extensive simulations have been done to demonstrate the feasibility of the two observers. Preliminary experiments (with an Adept robot) have also been conducted. A contact sensor has been implemented using strain gauges.

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Published In

International Journal of Robotics Research, 18, 5, 466-490.