Physical Interaction and Manipulation of the Environment using Aerial Robots - The Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University
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Physical Interaction and Manipulation of the Environment using Aerial Robots

PhD Thesis, Tech. Report, CMU-RI-TR-22-17, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, May, 2022
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The physical interaction of aerial robots with their environment has countless potential applications and is an emerging area with many open challenges. Fully-actuated multirotors have been introduced to tackle some of these challenges. They provide complete control over position and orientation and eliminate the need for attaching a multi-DoF manipulation arm to the robot. However, there are still several open problems before they can be used in real-world applications.

Researchers have introduced some methods for the physical interaction of fully-actuated multirotors in limited settings. Their experiments primarily use prototype-level software without an efficient path to integrating these methods into real-world applications. This thesis describes a new controller design that provides a cost-effective solution for integrating these robots with the existing software and hardware flight systems for real-world applications. It further expands the controller to physical interaction applications to show its flexibility and effectiveness.

On the other hand, the existing control approaches for fully-actuated robots assume conservative limits for the thrusts and moments available to the robot. Using conservative assumptions for these already-inefficient robots makes their interactions even less optimal and may even result in many feasible physical interaction applications becoming infeasible. This work proposes a real-time method for estimating the complete set of instantaneously available forces and moments that robots can use to optimize their physical interaction performance.

Finally, many real-world applications where aerial robots can improve the existing manual solutions deal with deformable objects. However, the perception of deformable objects and planning for their manipulation is still challenging. Additionally, no studies have been performed to analyze the requirements of aerial tasks that involve deformable objects. This research explores how aerial physical interaction can be extended to deformable objects. It provides a detection method suitable for manipulating deformable one-dimensional objects and introduces a new perspective on planning the manipulation of these objects. It further studies the viability of working with such objects for aerial manipulators.


author = {Azarakhsh Keipour},
title = {Physical Interaction and Manipulation of the Environment using Aerial Robots},
year = {2022},
month = {May},
school = {Carnegie Mellon University},
address = {Pittsburgh, PA},
number = {CMU-RI-TR-22-17},
keywords = {aerial robots, physical interaction, aerial manipulation, deformable objects, flight controller},