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Online Contact Point Estimation for Uncalibrated Tool Use.

Yiannis Karayiannidis, Christian Smith, Francisco Viña, and Danica Kragic


One of the big challenges for robots working outside of traditional industrial settings is the ability to robustly and flexibly grasp and manipulate tools for various tasks. When a tool is interacting with another object during task execution, several problems arise: a tool can be partially or completely occluded from the robot's view, it can slip or shift in the robot's hand - thus, the robot may lose the information about the exact position of the tool in the hand. Thus, there is a need for online calibration and/or recalibration of the tool. In this paper, we present a model-free online tool-tip calibration method that uses force/torque measurements and an adaptive estimation scheme to estimate the point of contact between a tool and the environment. An adaptive force control component guarantees that interaction forces are limited even before the contact point estimate has converged. We also show how to simultaneously estimate the location and normal direction of the surface being touched by the tool-tip as the contact point is estimated. The stability of the the overall scheme and the convergence of the estimated parameters are theoretically proven and the performance is evaluated in experiments on a real robot.

Keywords: Tool calibration, estimation, manipulator control


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