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Mark Moll
PhD Student, CS
No longer a member of RI.
Research Interests

I am mainly interested in minimalistic robotics. Typical research questions are:

  • What are the minimal sensing requirements for getting enough information to perform a certain task?
  • How many degrees of freedom (DOF) and what kinds of DOFs does a manipulator need to perform a certain task?
  • Is it possible to plan efficiently for a robot that satisfies the minimal sensing and manipulation requirements?

One project I have worked on involved developing strategies to orient three-dimensional parts with minimal sensing and manipulation. That is, we would like to bring a part from an unknown position and orientation to a known orientation (but possibly unknown position) with minimal means. In general, it is not possible to orient a part completely without sensors, but it is sufficient if a particular orienting strategy can bring a part into one particular orientation with high probability. The sensing is then reduced to a binary decision: a sensor only has to detect whether the part is in the right orientation or not. If not, the part is fed back to the parts orienting device. Assuming the orienting strategy succeeds with high probability, on average it takes just a few tries to orient the part. An alternative view of this type of manipulation is to consider it as manipulation of the pose distribution. The goal then is to find the pose distribution with minimal entropy, thereby maximally reducing uncertainty.

Currently I am working on active sensing: a combination of (tactile) sensing and manipulation. I would like to find strategies to reconstruct unknown objects from sensor data, recognize known objects and manipulate objects.

Research Interest Keywords
computational sensorscontrolgeometric modelingmanipulationsensors