Open Source Project Proposes Vision-Free Grasping With RFID and Touchscreens
At IROS 2012, Gill Pratt declared that grasping was solved, which was a bit of a surprise for all the people doing grasping research. Grasping, after all, is the easiest thing ever, as long as you know absolutely everything there is to know about the thing that you want to grasp. The tricky bit now is perception: recognizing what the object that you want to grasp is, where it is, and how it’s oriented. This is why robots are festooned with all sorts of sensing things, but if all you care about is manipulating an object that you’re familiar with already, dealing with vision is a lot of work.
Liatris is an open-source hardware and software project (led by roboticist Mark Silliman) that does away with vision completely. Instead, you can determine the identity and pose of slightly modified objects with just a touchscreen and an RFID reader. It’s simple, relatively inexpensive, and as long as you’re not trying to deal with anything new, it works impressively well.