Ergodic Exploration Using Binary Sensing for Nonparametric Shape Estimation

Ian Abraham, Ahalya Prabhakar, Mitra J Z Hartmann, Todd David Murphey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Current methods to estimate object shape-using either vision or touch-generally depend on high-resolution sensing. Here, we exploit ergodic exploration to demonstrate successful shape estimation when using a low-resolution binary contact sensor. The measurement model is posed as a collision-based tactile measurement, and classification methods are used to discriminate between shape boundary regions in the search space. Posterior likelihood estimates of the measurement model help the system actively seek out regions where the binary sensor is most likely to return informative measurements. Results show successful shape estimation of various objects as well as the ability to identify multiple objects in an environment. Interestingly, it is shown that ergodic exploration utilizes noncontact motion to gather significant information about shape. The algorithm is extended in three dimensions in simulation, and we present two-dimensional experimental results using the Rethink Baxter robot.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7820061
Pages (from-to)827-834
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Sensor-based control
  • force and tactile sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition


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