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A Modern Perspective from “Dual Citizenship” in Academia and Industry

Avik De
September 25, 2019

A Modern Perspective from “Dual Citizenship” in Academia and Industry

This talk was given at the GRASP 40 year celebration

Avik De

September 25, 2019


  1. A Modern Perspective from “Dual Citizenship” in Academia and Industry

    Avik De Cofounder & CTO, Ghost Robotics (Philadelphia) Postdoc (Harvard SEAS); Ph.D. (UPenn 2017)
  2. Fielded legged robotics: status update Vision-60 (35kg, 12dof) Research Scientific

    Commercial Jerboa (3kg, 4dof) Minitaur (6kg, 8dof direct drive)
  3. Perspectives on (legged) robot control [Raibert (1986)] Simple controllers →

    Complex systems/tasks? Generalizable solutions • Across tasks • Across platforms [Ting et. al. Neuron (2015)] In Biology In Robotics [Seyfarth (2015) [De (2017)] [Schaal (2006)] [Posa et al (2014)] [Boston Dynamics (2019)]
  4. Thesis: Modularity in Robot Control (Reduction + Composition) Classical (analytical)

    view Templates are themselves compositions [Full and Koditschek (1999)] “Templates and anchors…”
  5. Applications [Shamsah, De, Kod (IROS 2018)] [De, Kod in IJRR

    (2018)] Minitaur bounding, trotting, pacing, pronking Jerboa tailed hopping [De, Kod (ICRA 2014)]
  6. Ghost Robotics technical direction: modularity through hierarchy ? Abstraction benefits

    • Reduced (re)development • Computational simplification • Model-robustness Spirit 40
  7. Consequence on development: GR Vision 60 design history 2018 2019

    v1.0 v2.0 v3.0 Q1 Q1 v3.5 Q2 Q2 Q3 Q3 Q4 Q4
  8. Details of these reflexes make a huge difference in practice:

    outdoors “Details” • Slope estimation • Slip detection and handling • Stubbing detection and handling • Early/late contact handling • “Re-swing” reflexes • …
  9. Can go further: templates are inevitable • Subject to anchoring

    posture control, • With sufficient actuated DOFs, • (degrades gracefully with fewer) • Reduced dynamics at least contain IP. [De, Topping, Kod (in prep)] Back from commercial to research!
  10. Emphasize scientific fundamentals: push on efficiency * Estimated from public

    specs ** MIT cheetah is larger, “actuators only” mechanical (not total) COT, carrying a small battery [Seok et. al. (2015)] Robot Cost of Transport Vision 60 v3.5 0.80 Vision 60 v4.0 0.54 Boston Dynamics Spot 0.91* MIT Cheetah 0.46** Type Power (W) Motors Mechanical 210 Low level electronics Electrical 20 Blind locomotion Algorithmic <1 Gait planner Algorithmic <5 Autonomy Algorithmic 15 GR Vision 60 v3.5 power budget
  11. Perspectives from mixing research with commercial viability Why do we

    need Universities? • Training • “Five-year problems” • Intellectual boldness Why do we need companies? • Motivation • Platforms • $$$ • “Details” reveal research problems [De (2017)] BD Spot GR Vision ANYmal [Boston Dynamics (2019)]
  12. Impact on the individual What does an (academic/researcher/engineer) of the

    future look like? • Beneficial to draw on both • Unclear • Incentive structures around IP • Trade secrets vs. publishing • Entities like GRASP can help by defining next-generation norms! Academia Company Individual