Planning robot manipulation to clean planar surfaces

Journal Article (2015)


Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence





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This paper presents a new approach to plan high-level manipulation actions for cleaning surfaces in household environments, like removing dirt from a table using a rag. Dragging actions can change the distribution of dirt in an unpredictable manner, and thus the planning becomes challenging. We propose to define the problem using explicitly uncertain actions, and then plan the most effective sequence of actions in terms of time. However, some issues have to be tackled to plan efficiently with stochastic actions. States become hard to predict after executing a few actions, so replanning every few actions with newer perceptions gives the best results, and the trade-off between planning time and plan quality is also important. Finally a learner is integrated to provide adaptation to changes, such as different rag grasps, robots, or cleaning surfaces.

We demonstrate experimentally, using two different robot platforms, that planning is more advantageous than simple reactive strategies for accomplishing complex tasks, while still providing a similar performance for easy tasks. We also performed experiments where the rag grasp was changed, and thus the behaviour of the dragging actions, showing that the learning capabilities allow the robot to double its performance with a new rag grasp after a few cleaning iterations.


intelligent robots, learning (artificial intelligence), manipulators, planning (artificial intelligence), uncertainty handling.

Scientific reference

D. Martínez, G. Alenyà and C. Torras. Planning robot manipulation to clean planar surfaces. Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, 39: 23-32, 2015.