About Jason >> Robotics Research

February 2005:
The paper I submitted with Rahul, Illah, and Aroon on our Visual Odometry algorithm was accepted to ICRA 2005 and I look forward to presenting it there in April. ICRA is a top-tier robotics conference.

Babu Pillai and I also submitted a paper to ICRA on the Robot Photographer, and that paper was also accepted!

Meanwhile I have shifted my focus substantially towards the Dynamic Physical Rendering Project. Two colleagues, Babu Pillai (Intel Research) and Seth Goldstein (CMU), and I recently submitted a paper on an entirely new mode of power delivery for densely connected modular robot ensembles such as those envisioned in DPR. Our work demonstrates several strong theoretical and practical results which we think are very exciting, including establishing high-current-capible power distribution networks within multi-thousand robot ensembles within a few dozen timesteps. (A timestep might be from 100 nsec to 1 msec depending on the implementation technology, so in any case the total time described is a small fraction of a second.)

August 2004:
Our work over the past few months on Visual Odometry has been quite successful and very well received within the community. Certainly others have built visual odometry systems before, but ours is the first that many people have been able to see, touch, and experience. It works well enough that several non-computer-vision researchers have expressed interest in using the code on their own robots, and we look forward to helping with that as we prepare the code for a general open source release this fall. There are several posters and one conference paper discussing the visual odometry work on my professional website at Intel.

July 2004:
Babu Pillai, Yan Ke, and I had a fruitful collaboration this summer thinking about how to wisely manage finite storage capacity given an infinite-capacity multimedia data source such as a camera or microphone and several client applications using the storage subsystem. The resulting algorithm, which we have termed "Multi-Fidelity Storage" works suprisingly well and is already being used in multimedia storage and retrieval work here at the lab. We were able to show a particularly interesting video recording demo at the recent Open House on Aug. 22. There are more details on my Intel website, including a workshop paper and posters from the demo. This month I also helped write a workshop paper on Video Ferret, a video search system presently in development at IRP. VideoFerret uses Multi-Fidelity Storage (see above) and Diamond as part of its underlying architecture.

June 2004:
Illah, Rahul, and I are busy preparing the visual odometry demo we will be presenting at the AAAI conference in San Jose next month. And our paper on evaluating visual odometry systems has been accepted to IROS 2004 and we look forward to presenting that in the fall!

I'm also working with a CMU student, Aroon Pahwa, who has developed C++ client code to control a the PER robots we use for most of our robotics research around the lab.

December 2003:
At present I'm working with my collaborators, Illah Nourbakhsh and Rahul Sukthankar to crisply define our research goals for the coming year. More information will appear here soon!

November 2003:
During the open house at the Intel Pittsburgh Lablet this month I demonstrated several basic robot motion-control primitives implemented using computer vision optical flow techniques. Optical flow is a subfield of computer vision which seeks to determine camera motion ("ego motion") or viewed-object motion from a video sequence. For these demos I mounted a webcam on a simple robot and used the camera as the only sensory input to the robot's control system while illustrating robust course correction, accurate (distance) traversal, and reliable detection of precipices.

Optical flow is a well explored field and the work I showed did not break new theoretical ground. It was really just a warm-up to future research and a statement about what I regard as a very important point about sensor economics in the near future: The increasing computational capacity of embedded processors and rapidly falling prices of CCD and CMOS imagers will soon allow computer-vision-based sensing to displace other types of sensing on cost and performance grounds. In this case I used an unremarkable $50 webcam atop a $300 robot connected to a $2000 laptop (which could have been significantly cheaper) to perform several tasks that would have challenged vastly more expensive research robots equipped with encoders, sonar, and laser rangefinders (at a cost of from $500-$5,000 for the sensors alone). Vision-based sensors won't be a panacea, but they will offer an unprecedented jump in quality and quantity of information (vs sonar or infrared) at bargain-basement prices.

You can get more information about this work, including video clips of two of the demos, from my CMU homepage

October 2003:
I've accepted a position on the research staff of the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, Pittsburgh, PA. There I will be working closely with RI faculty and staff and researchers at the Intel Pittsburgh Lablet to meld sensor networks and autonomous robotics.


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  File /robots/index.mason, updated 23 Feb 2005