When I originally heard about PR2 being taught to push a cart, my comment was “meh,” at least in contrast to PR2 fetching beer or playing pool. However, nobody told me that the robot would be picking up trash, putting it on the aforementioned cart, and then pushing the cart over to the sink. We’re about to go full circle here, folks… PR2 fetches beer. PR2 plays pool while you drink beer. PR2 cleans up beer. Repeat.
Pushing a cart is also trickier than it seems. The physical act of pushing is not particularly challenging, but the cart makes it significantly more difficult for the robot to navigate. Not only does the cart block the PR2’s forward view, but in effect, it changes the shape of the robot, changing how PR2 has to move, especially in tight spaces. The solution to this involved just applying different motion planning software, which was easy to do, thanks to the open source environment of ROS and the standardized PR2 platform.
What I don’t entirely understand is the need for a human in the loop to identify specific containers for cleaning. I guess it might be bad for PR2 to pick up things containing liquid in case it spills, but remember that nifty squeezing experiment from last September that showed how PR2 could tell the difference between open and closed and full and empty containers? Seems like this would be the perfect time to use it.
[ Willow Garage ]