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Robot Button Pressing in Human Environments

Fan Wang*, Gerry Chen*, Kris Hauser

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2018


In order to conduct many desirable functions, service robots will need to actuate buttons and switches that are designed for humans. This paper presents the design of a robot named SwitchIt that is small, relatively inexpensive, easily mounted on a mobile robot, and actuates buttons reliably. Its operating characteristics were developed after conducting a systematic study of buttons and switches in human environments. From this study, we develop a categorization of buttons based on a set of physical properties relevant for robots to operate them. After a human calibrates and annotates buttons in the robot’s environment using a hand-held tablet, the system automatically recognizes, pushes, and detects the state of a variety of buttons. Empirical tests demonstrate that the system succeeds in operating 95.7% of 234 total buttons/switches in an office building and a household environment.

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