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Personal Robotics

The goal of the Personal Robotics project is to enable robots to perform useful tasks in environments structured for humans. The project is building technologies to enable HERB, the Home Exploring Robot Butler, to function as an assistant to the elderly and the disabled. HERB can perform such tasks as opening the refrigerator, fetching a bottle of juice, and handing it to a person elsewhere in the room. I have fulfilled several roles on this project, such as providing the robot with navigation and exploring new approaches to manipulation planning.


I ported my planner, MBHP (Model-Based Hierarchical Planner) to HERB's Segway base. The planner simulates a set of feasible trajectories at high fidelity over the next few seconds. To handle longer traverses, a D* planner provides global guidance regarding topology of the environment to ensure correct motion toward the goal.


I produced a version of MBHP for HERB's manipulator arm, called ArmMBHP. This planner uses the same approach to planning: it samples a number of trajectories from the current position of the arm in the direction of the goal. A D* planner provides approximate guidance to the arm to move towards the goal, while a set of metrics steer the search away from obstacles and joint limits. Recognizing that other planners may spend considerable time finding a solution, ArmMBHP is designed to solve simple manipulation problems in real time. Difficult manipulation planning problems are rare, but in such cases the robot would fall back to a complete planner such as RRT.

A paper describing my work on HERB, including a loosely-coupled real-time mobile manipulation planner, appeared at ICRA 2010.


  • Siddhartha S. Srinivasa, Dmitry Berenson, Maya Cakmak, Alvaro Collet, Mehmet R. Dogar, Anca D. Dragan, Ross A. Knepper, Tim Niemueller, Kyle Strabala, Mike Vande Weghe, Julius Ziegler, “HERB 2.0: Lessons Learned From Developing a Mobile Manipulator for the Home,” Proceedings of the IEEE, 100(8):2410-2428, August 2012. [PDF]
  • Ross A. Knepper, Siddhartha S. Srinivasa, and Matthew T. Mason, “Hierarchical Planning Architectures for Mobile Manipulation Tasks in Indoor Environments”, Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Anchorage, USA, May 2010. [PDF]