Prof. Tucker Hermans paper entitled, “Active Tactile Object Exploration with Gaussian Processes”, was recently accepted to the 2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS).  His co-authors are Zhengkun Yi, Roberto Calandra, Filipe Veiga, Herke van Hoof, Yilei Zhang, and Jan Peters.

Accurate object shape knowledge provides important information for performing stable grasping and dexterous manipulation. When modeling an object using tactile sensors, touching the object surface at a fixed grid of points can be prohibitively time consuming. In this paper, we present an active touch strategy to efficiently reduce the surface geometry uncertainty by leveraging a probabilistic representation of object surface. In particular, we model the object surface using a Gaussian process and use the associated uncertainty information to efficiently determine the next point to explore.  We validate the resulting method for tactile object surface modeling using a real robot to reconstruct multiple, complex object surfaces.