For a mobile manipulator to operate and perform useful tasks in human-centered environments, it is important to work toward the realization of robust motion planners that incorporate uncertainty inherent in robot's control and sensing and provide safe motion plans for reliable robot operation. Designing such planners pose a significant challenge because of computational complexity associated with mobile manipulator planning and planning under uncertainty. Current planning approaches for mobile manipulation are often conservative in nature and the uncertainty is largely ignored. In this thesis, we propose sampling-based efficient and robust mobile manipulator planners that use smart strategies to deal with computational complexity and incorporate uncertainty to generate safer plans. The first part of the research addresses the design of an efficient planner for deterministic case, where robot state is fully known, and then subsequent extension to incorporate base pose uncertainty. In the first part, we propose a Hierarchical and Adaptive Mobile Manipulator Planner (HAMP) that plans both for the base and the arm in a judicious manner - allowing the manipulator to change its configuration autonomously when needed if the current arm configuration is in collision with the environment as the mobile manipulator moves along the planned path. We show that HAMP is probabilistically complete. We then propose an extension of HAMP (HAMP-U) to account for localization uncertainty associated with the mobile base position. The advantages of our planners are illustrated and discussed. The second part of the research deals with the computational complexity involved in planning under uncertainty. For that, we propose localization aware sampling and connection strategies that help to reduce the planning time significantly with little compromise on the quality of path. In the third part, we learnt from the shortcomings of HAMP-U and took advantage of our smart strategies developed to combat the computational complexity. We propose an efficient and robust mobile manipulator planner (HAMP-BAU) that plans judiciously and considers the base pose uncertainty and the effects of this uncertainty on manipulator motions. It uses our localization aware sampling and connection strategies to consider only those nodes and edges which contribute toward better localization. This helps to find the same quality of path in shorter time. We also extend HAMP-BAU to incorporate task space constraints (HAMP-BAU-TC). Finally, in the last part of the work, we incorporate our planners (HAMP-BAU and HAMP-BAU-TC) within an integrated and fully autonomous system for mobile pick-and-place tasks in unknown static environments. We demonstrate our system both in simulation and real experiments on SFU mobile manipulator.
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Thesis advisor: Gupta, Kamal
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