The Agile Robotics for Logistics effort (2008-2011) was a project at Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT that developed a voice-commandable robotic forklift for the purposes of improving the efficiency and safety of logistics operations in unstructured and semi-structured outdoor environments, such as those associated with disaster relief and the military supply chain. Led by the late Seth Teller, the project was a collaboration between MIT CSAIL, Draper Laboratory, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) and Logistics Innovation Agency (LIA). The project was supported by the Department of Defense: Research and Engineering (DDRE), CASCOM, and LIA.

The voice-commandable autonomous forklift executed commands conveyed via natural language speech or stylus-based gestures to approach, engage, transport and place palletized cargo in minimally-structured outdoor settings. As part of the project, the team developed and integrated capabilities that allowed the robot to operate effectively alongside people within existing unstructured environments, such as military Supply Support Activities (SSAs, outdoor warehouses). The robot was designed to operate safely outdoors on uneven terrain and in unprepared environments, without the need for specially-placed fiducial markers, guidewires or other localization infrastructure, or specialized pallets or trucks, directly alongside people on foot and in human-driven vehicles. Fundamental to the design, people were able to effectively command and interact with the robot with little-to-no prior training. The robot was designed such that its operation was acceptable to existing (military) personnel and was consistent with their current operational practices and culture. The system exhibited several novel characteristics that were fundamental to its ability to operate safely and effectively despite challenging operational requirements:

For a self-contained summary of the Agile Robotics for Logistics effort, please see our IJRR 2015 paper.

Questions: If you have any questions, or would like more information about the project, please contact Matthew Walter.

Videos


Publications

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and . A Situationally-Aware Voice-Commandable Robotic Forklift Working Alongside People in Unstructured Outdoor Environments, Journal of Field Robotics, volume 32, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Sampling-based motion planning algorithms for dynamical systems, PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Robust sampling-based motion planning for autonomous vehicles in uncertain environments, PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Articulated pose estimation via over-parametrization and noise projection, PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , , and . Toward Learning Perceptually Grounded Word Meanings from Unaligned Parallel Data, In Proceedings of the NAACL HLT Workshop on Semantic Interpretation in an Actionable Context, . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , and . One-shot Visual Appearance Learning for Mobile Manipulation, International Journal of Robotics Research, volume 31, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Sampling-based algorithms for optimal path planning problems, PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , , , , and . Approaching the Symbol-Grounding Problem with Probabilistic Graphical Models, AI Magazine, volume 32, . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , , , and . Asymptotically-optimal Path Planning for Manipulation Using Incremental Sampling-based Algorithms, In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), . [bibtex] [pdf] [MIT News, Slashdot, and ABC/Yahoo]

, , , and . Efficient planning in non-Gaussian belief spaces and its application to robot grasping, In Proceedings of the International Symposium of Robotics Research (ISRR), . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , , , , and . Understanding Natural Language Commands for Robotic Navigation and Mobile Manipulation, In Proceedings of the National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), . [bibtex] [pdf]

and . Robust voice activity detector for real world applications using harmonicity and modulation frequency, In Proceedings of the Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (INTERSPEECH), . [bibtex]

, , , , and . Anytime Motion Planning Using the RRT*, In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Localization and tracking of parameterized objects in point clouds, Master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Passive object recognition using intrinsic shape signatures, Master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , and . Spoken command of large mobile robots in outdoor environments, In Proceedings of the IEEE Spoken Language Technology Workshop (SLT), . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , and . Vision-based Reacquisition for Task-level Control, In Proceedings of the International Symposium on Experimental Robotics (ISER), . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , and . Closed-loop Pallet Engagement in Unstructured Environments, In Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , and . Appearance-based Object Reacquisition for Mobile Manipulation, In Proceedings of the IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Workshops (CVPRW), . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , and . Closed-loop Pallet Engagement in an Unstructured Environment, In Proceeding of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) Workshop on Mobile Manipulation, . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , and . A Voice-Commandable Robotic Forklift Working Alongside Humans in Minimally-Prepared Outdoor Environments, In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), . [bibtex] [pdf]

, , , and . Bounds on Tracking Error using Closed-Loop Rapidly-Exploring Random Trees, In Proceedings of the American Control Conference (ACC), . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Designing an error resolution checklist for a shared manned-unmanned environment, Master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Real-time noise-robust speech detection, Master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Multiple relative pose graphs for cooperative mapping, Master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Decentralized path planning for multiple agents in complex environments using rapidly-exploring random trees, Master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. A perception-guided approach to motion and manipulation planning, Master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Applications of Broad Class Knowledge for Noise Robust Speech Recognition, PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Experimental testbeds for real-time motion planning : implementation and lessons learned, Master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]

. Drawing on the World: Sketch in Context, Master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, . [bibtex] [pdf]