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Object Detection and 6D Pose Estimation

A requirement in order to be able to plan the motion of a robotic arm in a cluttered environment is to be able to detect the objects in the robot's vicinity and their 6D pose (i.e., location and orientation). We have worked along the following directions in this area:

A Dataset for RGBD-based Object Detection and Pose Estimation for Warehouse Pick-and-Place

An important logistics application of robotics involves manipulators that pick-and-place objects placed in warehouse shelves. A critical aspect of this task corresponds to detecting the pose of a known object in the shelf using visual data. Solving this problem can be assisted by the use of an RGBD sensor, which also provides depth information beyond visual data. Nevertheless, it remains a challenging problem since multiple issues need to be addressed, such as low illumination inside shelves, clutter, texture-less and reflective objects as well as the limitations of depth sensors. This paper provides a new rich dataset for advancing the state-of-the-art in RGBD-based 3D object pose estimation, which is focused on the challenges that arise when solving warehouse pick-and-place tasks. The publicly available dataset includes thousands of images and corresponding ground truth data for the objects used during the first Amazon Picking Challenge at different poses and clutter conditions. Each image is accompanied with ground truth information to assist in the evaluation of algorithms for object detection. To show the utility of the dataset, a recent algorithm for RGBD-based pose estimation is evaluated in this paper. Given the measured performance of the algorithm on the dataset, this paper shows how it is possible to devise modifications and improvements to increase the accuracy of pose estimation algorithms. This process can be easily applied to a variety of different methodologies for object pose detection and
improve performance in the domain of warehouse pick-and-place.

See the corresponding paper for more details:

Rennie, C., R. Shome, KE Bekris, and Ferreira A. De Souza. 2016. “A Dataset For Improved Rgbd-Based Object Detection And Pose Estimation For Warehouse Pick-And-Place” IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L)

Here is the link to the Rutgers APC RGBD dataset.

A Self-supervised Learning System for Object Detection using Physics Simulation and Multi-view Pose Estimation

Progress has been achieved recently in object detection given advancements in deep learning. Nevertheless, such tools typically require a large amount of training data and significant manual effort to label objects. This limits their applicability in robotics, where solutions must scale to a large number of objects and variety of conditions. This work proposes an autonomous process for training a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) for object detection and pose estimation in robotic setups. The focus is on detecting objects placed in cluttered, tight environments, such as a shelf with multiple objects. In particular, given access to 3D object models, several aspects of the environment are physically simulated. The models are placed in physically realistic poses with respect to their environment to generate a labeled synthetic dataset. To further improve object detection, the network self-trains over real images that are labeled using a robust multi-view pose estimation process. The proposed training process is evaluated on several existing datasets and on a dataset collected for this paper with a Motoman robotic arm. Results show that the proposed approach outperforms popular training processes relying on synthetic - but not physically realistic - data and manual annotation. The key contributions are the incorporation of physical reasoning in the synthetic data generation process and the automation of the annotation process over real images.

See the corresponding website with source code and trained models for object detection using physics-based simulation.

Improving 6D Pose Estimation of Objects in Clutter via Physics-aware Monte Carlo Tree Search

This work proposes a process for efficiently searching over combinations of individual object 6D pose hypotheses in cluttered scenes, especially in cases involving occlusions and objects resting on each other. The initial set of candidate object poses is generated from state-of-the-art object detection and global point cloud registration techniques. The best-scored pose per object by using these techniques may not be accurate due to overlaps and occlusions. Nevertheless, experimental indications provided in this work show that object poses with lower ranks may be closer to the real poses than ones with high ranks according to registration techniques. This motivates a global optimization process for improving these poses by taking into account scene-level physical interactions between objects. It also implies that the Cartesian product of candidate poses for interacting objects must be searched so as to identify the best scene-level hypothesis. To perform the search efficiently, the candidate poses for each object are clustered so as to reduce their number but still keep a sufficient diversity. Then, searching over the combinations of candidate object poses is performed through a Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) process that uses the similarity between the observed depth image of the scene and a rendering of the scene given the hypothesized pose as a score that guides the search procedure. MCTS handles in a principled way the tradeoff between fine-tuning the most promising poses and exploring new ones, by using the Upper Confidence Bound (UCB) technique. Experimental results indicate that this process is able to quickly identify in cluttered scenes physically-consistent object poses that are significantly closer to ground truth compared to poses found by point cloud registration methods.

See the video of the submission as well as the corresponding manuscript.