Surfing on an uncertain edge: Precision cutting of soft tissue using torque-based medium classification


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Precision cutting of soft-tissue remains a challenging problem in robotics, due to the complex and unpredictable mechanical behaviour of tissue under manipulation. Here, we consider the challenge of cutting along the boundary between two soft mediums, a problem that is made extremely difficult due to visibility constraints, which means that the precise location of the cutting trajectory is typically unknown. This paper introduces a novel strategy to address this task, using a binary medium classifier trained using joint torque measurements, and a closed loop control law that relies on an error signal compactly encoded in the decision boundary of the classifier. We illustrate this on a grapefruit cutting task, successfully modulating a nominal trajectory t using dynamic movement primitives to follow the boundary between grapefruit pulp and peel using torque based medium classification. Results show that this control strategy is successful in 72 % of attempts in contrast to control using a nominal trajectory, which only succeeds in 50 % of attempts.
joint torque measurements,closed loop control law,grapefruit cutting task,grapefruit pulp,uncertain edge,precision cutting,soft tissue,torque-based medium classification,visibility constraints,cutting trajectory,binary medium classifier,robotics
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