Maryland Robotics Center Seminar: Matthew Mason, "Automation and Robotics"
Friday, April 30, 2010
1146 A.V. Williams Building
301 405 7011
Maryland Robotics Center Seminar
Generality and Simple Hands: Automation and Robotics
Matthew T. Mason
Director, Robotics Institute
Carnegie Mellon University
Factory automation serves robotics both as an application domain and a source of inspiration. This talk begins with recent work attempting to explore the tradeoff between simplicity of a hand's design and the generality of its function. We have converged on a novel set of design concepts, and demonstrated them in action, using a very simple hand to perform blind grasping of parts from a bin, including singulation and localization. Then the talk turns to a broader perspective on the relation of factory automation and robotics. The main idea is to view an automated factory as an object of scientific study, furthering the primary goal of robotics, which is to understand the principles of animated machines. Factories offer many advantages to the aspiring roboticist. You can vivisect a factory without impeding its operation, and without moral concerns. You can discuss its design with its creator. And, since factory automation was not contrived by robotics researchers, the study of automated factories is closer to a natural science than, say, study of robotic origami. One question is whether factory automation, as a "structured" task domain, is so fundamentally different from "unstructured" task domains, as to limit the scope of any principles learned. The talk will include an attempt to bring some precision to the concepts of structured and unstructured task domains.
Matthew T. Mason earned the BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at MIT, finishing his PhD in 1982. Since that time he has been on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is presently Professor of Robotics and Computer Science, and Director of the Robotics Institute. His prior work includes force control, automated assembly planning, mechanics of pushing and grasping, automated parts orienting and feeding, and mobile robotics. He is co-author of "Robot Hands and the Mechanics of Manipulation" (MIT Press 1985), co-editor of "Robot Motion: Planning and Control" (MIT Press 1982), and author of "Mechanics of Robotic Manipulation" (MIT Press 2001). He is a Fellow of the AAAI, and a Fellow of the IEEE. He is a winner of the System Development Foundation Prize and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society's Pioneer Award.