Congratulations to Professors Abdeslam Boularias, Mridul Aanjaneya, and Jingjin Yu for having their project titled "Robust and Efficient Physics-Based Learning and Reasoning in Degraded Environments" recommended for funding by the National Science Foundation.
The $1.5 million, four-year project will perform fundamental research into developing and integrating physics-driven reasoning and planning techniques to enable autonomous robots to manipulate unknown irregular objects and navigate in unstructured, dynamic environments. The developed techniques will be deployed on RoboMantis - a four-legged, wheeled robot that can assist in first-response missions. The project will fill the important gap between existing research on learning models of unknown objects from data and research on developing adequate simulation tools for robotic manipulation and locomotion by answering three fundamental questions: 1) How to efficiently simulate the effects of robotic actions on objects with uncertain models? 2) How to use physics simulation tools to plan manipulation and locomotion strategies for navigating in unstructured terrains? and, 3) How to learn physical models of objects on the fly? The project builds on top of progress in computer vision, physics simulation, and planning, towards developing an efficient toolset for robotic navigation in rubble.