# Robotics. Lecture 3: Sensors. See course website for up to date information.

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1 Robotics Lecture 3: Sensors See course website for up to date information. Andrew Davison Department of Computing Imperial College London

2 Review: Locomotion Practical from Lecture 2 Gradual motion drift from perfect square Causes: initial alignment errors; wheel slip; miscalibration; unequal left/right motors; others...? Using synchronized PID control improves matters but we will never achieve a perfect result every time in this experiment.

3 A Well-Calibrated Robot After careful calibration the robot should on average return to the desired location, but scatter will remain due to uncontrollable factors (variable wheel slip, surface, air currents!?... ) Systematic error removed; what remains are zero mean errors. We can model the zero mean errors probabilistically: in many cases a Gaussian (normal) distribution is suitable. The size of the distribution of the errors will grow as the robot moves further around the square.

4 W R R W What does this mean for estimating motion? Perfect motion integration from odometry is not possible: y x y R Coordinate Frame Carried With Robot θ Fixed World Coordinate Frame W Recall from the last lecture: state update equations: During a straight-line period of motion of distance D: x new y new = x + D cos θ y + D sin θ θ new θ x W During a pure rotation of angle angle α: x new y new θ new = x y θ + α

5 Uncertainty in Motion A better model acknowledges that this ideal trajectory is affected by uncertain perturbations ( motion noise ). For example, we could use this simple model: During a straight-line period of motion of distance D: x new x + (D + e) cos θ y new θ new = y + (D + e) sin θ θ + f During a pure rotation of angle angle α: x new x y new θ new = y θ + α + g Here e, f and g are noise terms, with zero mean and a Gaussian distribution, describing how actual motion might deviate from the ideal trajectory. Adding these terms won t help us to move a robot more accurately when it is guided with only odometry; but are important later when we probabilistically combine odometry with other sensing.

6 Sensors: Proprioceptive and Outward-Looking As we saw in the first lecture, sensors are either proprioceptive (literally self-sensing) or outward-looking. Proprioceptive sensors (such as motor encoders or internal force sensors) will improve a robot s sense of its own internal state and motion. But without outward-looking sensors a mobile robot is moving blindly. It needs them to, for example: Localise without drift with respect to a map. Recognise places and objects it has seen before. Map out free space and avoid obstacles. Interact with objects and people. In general, be aware of its environment.

7 Sensor Measurements: Proprioceptive Sensors gather numerical readings or measurements. In the case of proprioceptive sensors, the value of the measurement z p will depend on (be a function of) just the state of the robot x: z p = z p (x). The state of a robot is a vector of variables we use to describe its current status. e.g. for a simple robot moving on a flat ground plane we might have: x x = y θ More generally, a proprioceptive measurement might depend not just on the current state but also previous states in the robot s history or the current rate of change of state. e.g. wheel odometry will report a reading depending on the difference between the current and previous state. A gyro will report a reading depending on the current rate of rotation

8 Sensor Measurements: Outward-Looking A measurement from an outward looking sensor will depend both on the state of the robot x and the state of the world around it y: z o = z o (x, y). The state of the world might be parameterised in many ways; e.g. a list of the geometric coordinates of walls or landmarks; and may either be uncertain or perfectly known.

9 Single and Multiple Value Sensors Touch, light and sonar sensors each return a single value within a given range. Sensors such as a camera or laser range-finder return an array of values. This can be achieved by scanning a single sensing element (as in a laser range-finder) or by having an array of sensing elements (such as the pixels of a camera s CCD chip).

10 Touch Sensors Binary on/off state no processing required. Switch open no current flows. Switch closed current flows (hit).

11 Touch Sensors for Bump Detection Sensor detects when an obstacle has been hit (last line of defence). Demands immediate reaction evasive manoeuvre, or stop forward motion at least. Two bump sensors which should never be activated at the same time could be wired in parallel to the same input.

12 Multiple Touch Sensors Where was I hit? Touch sensors mounted inside floating skirt around circular robot: Four sensors give the ability to measure eight bump directions.

13 Strategies After a Collision Explore reverse, and try to go around (e.g. turn to a fixed angle from hit and proceed). Moving object? Follow (turn towards hit, wait, then drive forward), or run away (turn away from hit and drive forward).

14 Light Sensors Detect intensity of light incident from single forward direction. Multiple sensors pointing in different directions can guide steering behaviours. The Lego sensors also have a mode where they emit their own light, which will reflect off close targets and can be used for following a line on the floor or quite effective short-range obstacle avoidance.

15 Sonar (Ultrasonic) Sensors Measure depth by emitting an ultrasonic pulse and timing interval until echo returns. Fairly accurate depth measurement in one direction but can give noisy measurements in the presence of complicated shapes. Robots sometimes have a ring of sonar sensors for obstable detection. Useful underwater where it is the only serious option beyond very short ranges.

16 Probabilistic Sensor Modelling Like robot motion, robot sensing is also fundamentally uncertain. Real sensors do not report the exact truth of the quantities they are measuring but a perturbed version. Having characterized (modelled; calibrated?) a sensor and understood the uncertainty in its measurements we can build a probabilistic measurement model for how it works. This will be a probability distribution (specifically a likelihood function) of the form: p(z o x, y). Such a distribution will often have a Gaussian shape.

17 Likelihood Functions p(z v) A likelihood function fully describes a sensor s performance. p(z v) is a function of both measurement variables z and ground truth v and can be plotted as a probability surface. e.g. for a depth sensor: p(z v) p(z v) (0, 0, 0) z (0, 0, 0) z z v z=v v z=v v z=v z=1.1v Constant Uncertainty Growing Systematic Error (Biased)

18 Robust Likelihood for Sonar Update We will return to this in later lectures on probabilistic robotics, but a suitable likelihood function for a sonar sensor is as follows: it says what is the probability of obtaining sensor measurement z given that the ground truth value I expect is m? This distribution has a narrow Gaussian band around the expected value, plus a constant additive band representing a fixed percentage of garbage measurements. p(z m) K 0 z=m z (z m) 2 p(z m) e 2σs 2 + K

19 External Sensing: Laser Range-Finder Returns an array of depth measurements from its scanning beam. Very accurate measurement of both depth and direction from time-of-flight measurement of scanning laser beam Normally scans in a 2D plane but 3D versions are also available Rather bulky (and expensive) for small robots

20 External Sensing: Vision A camera measures light intensity in many directions simultaneously by directing incident light onto a sensing chip with an array of light sensitive elements Normally returns a large, rectangular array of measurements. A single camera measures angles, but not depth information. 3D information comes from either multiple cameras or motion Vast research area: object recognition, location recognition, tracking, 3D reconstruction, etc. Huge motivation from biology Highly attractive for general purpose, low-cost robotics

21 Servoing Servoing is a robot control technique where control parameters (such as the desired speed of a motor) are coupled directly to a sensor reading and updated regularly in a negative feedback loop. It is also sometimes known as closed loop control. Servoing needs high frequency update of the sensor/control cycle or motion may oscillate. The Mindstorms NXT motors or the servos used in model radio-controlled cars and aircraft use internal position encoders to perform position control:

22 Proportional Control using an External Sensor: Servoing In servoing, a control demand is set which over time aims to bring the current value of a sensor reading into agreement with a desired value. Proportional control: set demand proportional to negative error (difference between desired sensor value and actual sensor value): e.g. set velocity proportional to error: v = k p (z desired z actual ), where κ is the proportional gain constant. (Note that since this is a different control loop, k p will not have the same value as in last week s motor tuning but will need to be individually adjusted through trial and error.) actual desired Proprotional control is a special case of more general PID Control (Proportional, Integral, Differential).

23 Outward-Looking Sensor Servoing: Some Details In the previous slide we saw a proportional law to control velocity; but in our robots when we set a velocity demand there is another level of PID control underneath (as we looked at last week) which monitors the motor encoders translates velocity demands into a sequence of PWM values which are actually sent to the motors. This is an example of cascade control where the output of one control loop is used to set the input to another. While in principle both controllers could be combined into a unified whole, this is a very useful abstraction which hides the details of motor/encoder control from the upper level work with sensor control. Problems will not arise unless the top level controller requests velocity changes too rapidly, exceeding the bandwidth of the lower level controller.j Outward looking sensors such as sonar or cameras will sometimes produce garbage readings for a number of different possible reasons. It can often be sensible to use a strategy to try to remove these outliers, such as median filtering which doesn t use the most recent sensor value in the control law but a smoothed value such as the median of the past n measurements. Note though that this will also reduce the responsiveness of the system.

24 Very High Speed Visual Servoing Research from the University of Tokyo, late 1990s, using a custom 1000Hz camera and high performance robotics.

25 Visual Servoing to Control Steering For a robot with a tricycle or car-type wheel configuration. Simple steering law which will guide robot to collide with target: s = k p α Steering law which will guide robot to avoid obstace at a safe radius: subtract offset: s = k p (α sin 1 R D ) O R 1 sin (R/D) α v h D s

26 Visual Servoing Trajectories z z z x x x Compare with simpler steering law which will guide robot to collide with target: s = k p α

27 Combining Sensors: World Model Approach Capture data; store and manipulate it using symbolic representations. Plan a sequence of actions to achieve a given goal Execute plan. If the world changes during execution, stop and re-plan. Powerful, but computationally expensive and complicated! Shakey: one of the first mobile robots. Probabilistic state inference and planning is the modern version of this able to cope with uncertainty in sensors.

28 Combining: Sensing/Action Loops No modelling and planning! Consider each local servo -like sensing-action loop as a behaviour. Sense Act The challenge is in combining many behaviours into useful overall activity: see TR Programs, Subsumption, Braitenberg vehicles.

29 This week s practical: Simple Sensor Control Loops and Wall Following Example wall follower: We will try to do even better with smooth proportional gain!

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