Underwater Human-Robotic Interplay #ICRA2022 – Robohub Kavasystem


How do individuals talk when they’re underwater? With physique language, after all.

Marine environments current a singular set of challenges that render a number of applied sciences that had been developed for land functions fully ineffective. Speaking utilizing sound, or at the very least as individuals use sound to speak, is one in every of them.

Michael Fulton tackles this problem together with his presentation at ICRA 2022 through the use of physique language to speak with an AUV underwater. Tune in for extra.

His poster may be seen right here.

Michael Fulton

Michael Fulton is a Ph.D. Candidate on the College of Minnesota Twin Cities. His analysis focuses totally on underwater robotics with a concentrate on functions the place robots work with people. Particularly, human-robot interplay and robotic notion utilizing pc imaginative and prescient and deep studying, with the intent of making techniques that may work collaboratively with people in difficult environments.


Abate: [00:00:00] So inform me a little bit bit about your presentation earlier as we speak.

Michael Fulton: Yeah, so I used to be presenting as we speak, my collaborative work with Jungseok Hong and my advisor Junaed Sattar on diver strategy. So mainly the issue of when you’ve got an AUV and a diver working collectively underwater it’s necessary that they be shut collectively once they wanna talk, whether or not it’s for, you understand, doing gestures to the AUV, to inform it, you understand, Go do that activity, go have a look at this space.

Or if it’s the AUV speaking to the diver, possibly they’re telling it, Hey, I discovered this cool factor over right here. It’s best to come test it out in both of these conditions, you might want to be shut collectively, proper? Mm-hmm nonetheless, for AUVs to be helpful underwater, they should go away the diver. They should go do looking and, you understand, carrying merchandise or, or instruments and supplies and stuff like that.

Uh, so that is the issue that we now have, proper. We must be shut to speak, however we must be distant to, to do stuff. So to repair this, we’d like a functionality for diver strategy. We want to have the ability to seek for the diver, discover them and strategy them to an acceptable distance and orientation for communication.

So our algorithm is named ADROC autonomous diver relative operator configuration. And it’s this monocular imaginative and prescient based mostly technique of doing this the place we we do that diver strategy based mostly on solely monocular imaginative and prescient. Yeah. As a result of we needed to maintain it as low-cost as doable, you understand? No, no sonar, no stereovision and, and as minimal sensing as we may, we may handle this with and mainly the best way the algorithm works is as an alternative of making an attempt to do monocular depth estimation, which is, you understand, you may get respectable accuracy on it, however you typically want excessive computational energy.

Mm-hmm . As an alternative of doing that, we realized, okay, what we really have to know is, is the space that the divers is at the moment at “Ok”? Is it shut sufficient for, for us to work with the communication a part of issues.

Abate: So that you want a tough estimate?

Michael Fulton: Yeah. You want, you want a really tough normal estimate. I don’t care if the, if the robotic’s, you understand, one meter away or 1.1, you understand, 0.9 0.7.

It doesn’t actually matter to me so long as it’s shut sufficient. Yeah. Tough sufficient. So the best way that we did that is through the use of shoulder width as a previous piece of knowledge, as a result of we all know from biomedical literature that there’s a spread that human shoulder widths are available. We all know the common of that vary.

We all know, you understand, the place most individuals’s shoulder widths are fairly near. From that we are able to calculate the anticipated pixel width between shoulders for an in depth sufficient tough estimate, distance for communication. Yeah. After which we simply evaluate: is the diver shoulder width smaller than that? Okay. We have to come nearer.

Is it, is it bigger than that? Okay. We have to again up. And the best way we do the the precise calculation of the shoulder width is a two-step course of. We both use a diver detector, which takes a picture of a, of the scene and finds. Diver attracts a bounding field round them. We are able to use the width of that as type of a proxy for shoulder width.

Mm-hmm but it surely’s not tremendous correct, proper? The diver may very well be type of on their aspect. Yeah. Uh, there’s a number of issues that may change the bounding field width with out altering shoulder width. In order that will get us a really, very tough estimate. And if we simply approached based mostly on that, the, the AUV can be method off on distance as a result of the bounding field modifications quite a bit.

What doesn’t change quite a bit is the precise shoulder width that is still. So we additionally use the diver pose estimation algorithm to get key factors on the shoulders and calculate the space between them. Yeah. And so it’s this cascaded strategy the place mainly what finally ends up taking place is from distant, the detector works.

We’ve really run this so far as 15 meters away. Um, and that allows you to middle the diver within the picture and begin getting nearer to them. After which as you get nearer throughout the vary of, I might say most likely about six to seven meters is the efficient vary. Uh, you may really begin detecting the important thing factors for the shoulders and then you definately get correct distance.

Not distance estimation, however distance ratio calculation, we name this the pseudo distance. Yeah. Trigger it’s probably not distance, but it surely capabilities at it. Yeah.

Abate: So I imply, one of many good issues that you simply mentioned in your presentation is that even in numerous poses and orientations, the house between your shoulders stays comparatively the identical.

However on the flip aspect, say my shoulders and your shoulders are totally different lengths.

Michael Fulton: They’re totally different. However if you have a look at the magnitude of the distinction in comparison with the magnitude of the scene, it’s really very small. Proper. Like, I might say simply on a tough guess, I’d say the distinction between our shoulder width is a number of centimeters mm-hmm proper.

And if you had been utilizing this, I can’t bear in mind my precise shoulder width. It was one thing like 40 one thing centimeters. I, I don’t bear in mind once we’re utilizing that as our, as our, mainly our sign for the space a distinction of a few centimeters does make a distinction, but it surely doesn’t wreck issues.

Yeah. We are able to nonetheless work with it. And, and like I mentioned, within the, within the presentation earlier, we are able to run it off of the common diver shoulder width. However if you’re taking place with an AUV and you understand, you’re gonna work [00:05:00] with it, you could possibly additionally calibrate it to your precise shoulder width. We did this a number of instances and it really works.

The algorithm works regardless for those who calibrate it to your precise shoulder width, you may get very nice distance like last distance for strategy. It really works actually properly for those who calibrate it to the particular shoulder width, but it surely works usually on the common as effectively. Is there any distinction

Abate: between say taking these these measurements and pictures above floor versus underwater. Does water distort that measurement?

Michael Fulton: Yeah, so completely underwater imaginative and prescient typically. there’s distortion of coloration. There’s distortion of turbidity particulate matter and bubbles, a number of issues. So, so this aspect of underwater imaginative and prescient is type of it’s the method it’s.

Mm-hmm all underwater imaginative and prescient stuff suffers from this. There’s a, a extremely energetic thread of labor on underwater picture. Improve. Which principally makes an attempt to take care of like gentle or coloration altering coloration. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so that really, it helps a bit, however doesn’t assist a ton with this. Um, the opposite huge factor. So, in order that’s from the visible aspect of issues.

After we’re speaking extra concerning the I don’t know fairly say this. The, the, the training aspect of issues, our diver detector is skilled on photographs of divers, so it is aware of what they appear to be. It approaches them simple. The physique pose that we use is TRT pose from nvidia IOT. it’s skilled on terrestrial imagery. So the factor about that’s that in these conventional photographs, individuals are standing or sitting, no person is sideways, proper? Cuz we, we are able to’t go sideways, however within the water we are able to, individuals are sideways on a regular basis.

They’re swimming, they’re floating. And so this really causes issues with ADROC. Um, If, if any person is in a, a vastly totally different orientation it, it, it’s quite a bit more durable, which is why, you understand, for those who learn the paper, you’ll see, we, we made a few simplifying assumptions. Considered one of them was that there’s just one diver within the scene as a result of whereas we’re wanting into discriminating between divers proper now, the algorithm doesn’t try this.

So, and it’ll strategy whichever one, it sees first . Um, the opposite simplifying assumption that we made was that the diver is mostly upright. , we didn’t inform individuals, you must keep 100% straight up and down, however we mentioned, you understand, keep principally upright. Yeah. And once we tried it on individuals, you understand, sideways, it nonetheless does work, however not as effectively.

Abate: Yeah. So that is an space that’s like, you may positively see a path to enchancment.

Michael Fulton: Completely

Abate: probably not a problem. It’s only a matter of getting the info and becoming it to yeah.

Michael Fulton: With underwater robotics, brown reality is all the time an enormous, big hassle. And for labeling one thing like pose. That’s some actually it’s, it’s not a lot that it’s like tough work, however the labeling is gonna take months for that.

However I really, I imply, it, that is why ICRA is nice. Like I used to be speaking with any person on Monday evening or no sat Sunday evening. Um, they usually had been telling me about some pose community I ought to strive. So I’m gonna go house and take a look at, strive it for our information and see if it really works any higher.

Abate: Yeah.

Michael Fulton: Um, I feel the 2 essential areas of enchancment, three, three areas of enchancment, pose estimation, we already talked about.

Yeah. Second huge one is search habits. Our search habits for this was actually easy. When you don’t see the diver flip mm-hmm proper, however there’s, there’s some apparent enhancements that may be made there. Issues like if we lose observe of the diver, we should always flip within the route that we final noticed them.

Proper. Or if we’re making an attempt to cowl a big house, possibly turning isn’t gonna be sufficient. , I, I mentioned earlier, we, we ran this from 15 meters away. I might guess… I don’t have information. I might guess that previous 30 meters it’s not gonna work as a result of we simply can’t see something. So for an area that’s like 30 meters or bigger, which open water underwater environments are you’re gonna want to have the ability to do extra than simply turning.

It’s gonna want to love search the house by some means. Yeah. That I feel is the entire huge factor by itself. Um, after which the opposite huge factor by itself is what I mentioned earlier about diver discrimination. Yeah. With the ability to inform the distinction between diver a and diver B, you understand, I don’t, I don’t actually care if it’s, you understand, this man versus that man versus that woman.

It doesn’t matter who particularly, however I do need the algorithm to have the ability to handle a number of divers within the scene, figuring out which one it’s … approached earlier than. And, and once we really first got here up with this concept, the thought was we’re gonna activate the robotic and it’s gonna like go as much as all people and ask, Hey, are you my operator?

I actually wish to do that also. So if we get the diver discriminator working effectively sufficient,

Abate: And that will likely be by means of gestures, they’ll say like, …

Michael Fulton: yeah. So, so it’ll come as much as the diver and it’ll do like a, so I I’ve accomplished this work with movement based mostly communication, robotic communication by way of. um, and it, so the di the robotic’s gonna come up and it’s gonna type of do like a, you ever seen like a canine ask to play fetch with you?

Yeah. It’s gonna type of go like, Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, are you, are you? Yeah. After which the diver will say sure or, or no, I’m not your, I’m not your operator. After which it’ll go, okay, I’ll cross you off the listing seek for the following [00:10:00] particular person. Yeah. That’s the place this work hopefully goes sooner or later. Um, you understand, my, my work typically, my thesis work is about robotic communication and interplay underwater.

Uh, I feel I discussed this briefly within the speak, you understand, underwater human robotic collaboration is a model new discipline. Yeah. Like this didn’t exist earlier than the early two 1000’s. Um, partially as a result of the AUVs which can be affordable to, to work with underwater are like, since 2000’s,

Abate: they had been, they had been created within the 2000’s.

Michael Fulton: Sure.

Abate: And that was the impetus for why now working with a robotic, proper. Underwater is even an idea that we’re speaking about.

Michael Fulton: Sure. Trigger the primary AUV’s are in just like the sixties, and these are these huge ocean going submarine, issues which can be for oceanography, nice work, you understand, actually necessary stuff, however they’re greater than you and I are.

Yeah. And you may, you may work together with that, but it surely’s probably not what they’re for subsequently doing these lengthy deployments that people can’t do. We’re now in, in underwater robotics, seeing the, the appearance, the approaching of collaborative AUV’s. It’s, it’s a new factor that’s developing and you’ll see it within the work, you understand, underwater HRI papers weren’t written 20 years in the past.

Um, possibly any person wrote one 20 years in the past that I don’t find out about they usually’re gonna get mad at me, however I’ve solely seen ones courting again to early two 1000’s. Um, and now there’s, there’s a number of right here and there. I’ve introduced a few ICRA now, and whereas we’re not but on the level the place the AUVs and the individuals are really working collectively you understand, I, I, I don’t know of anyone who’s really doing collaborative work with AUVs for like an organization.

Um, but it surely’s coming. Yeah, it’s coming quickly. And, and specifically, for me, I’m actually excited by like environmental conservation and organic remediation. So like trash cleanup, oil spills uh, observing invasive or so it’s both eradicating invasive species or preserving endangered species.

Yeah. This sort of factor the place what’s taking place proper now’s all over the world. Some scientist is diving, you understand, they’re diving with all these undergrads for hours lengthy a day. I would like to have the ability to give them robots which can be low-cost and, and brazenly out there. And you understand, my huge a part of it’s robots that they will talk with in a method that’s not onerous for them to study.

Yeah. I don’t need these scientists to need to study Python or need to study C++ or ROS and discover ways to program these robots. I would like them to have the ability to use my communication frameworks, and my activity administration frameworks in order that they will activity these AUVs with totally different items. Work go discover me this, any such Marine life.

Go discover me this trash. Inform me the place to go decide up this trash. Uh, deliver me instruments, carry samples for me. Yeah. This sort of stuff I feel could be very a lot throughout the realm of chance and the work that I, and the opposite nice Ph.D. college students and grasp college students and undergrad college students and our advisor of the interactive robotics and imaginative and prescient lab do is actively transferring us in the direction of that.

Yeah. We’re getting, you understand, notion, capabilities, and navigation mapping. Capabilities you noticed within the Marine, robotics talks, all these various things. , the acoustic localization, the GoPro-based imaginative and prescient for mapping all these items. It’s all items of the puzzle. And the piece that I’m most excited by is the human-robot interplay half as a result of it’s, it’s such an fascinating, difficult setting.

There’s so many assumptions that you simply make terrestrially that simply aren’t there. Like the massive, the. Know, for those who’re speaking with a robotic, you type of anticipate to speak to it and have it speak again. You possibly can’t try this underwater. You gotta,

Abate: yeah. There’s no voice.

Michael Fulton: There’s no voice. There’s a respiration equipment in your mouth.

Yeah. And you may hear, however probably not effectively. Yeah. So I’ve developed, you understand, movement, light-based communication. I’m making an attempt sound, however nonverbal sounds so like tones as an alternative of phrases.

Abate: Yeah. And what’s fascinating too, is like as in there are a variety of trade examples like offshore wind and like offshore buildings which can be being constructed the place The divers usually are not gonna get changed.

Michael Fulton: No, no. Very quickly quickly.

Abate: Yeah. They’ve such an extremely tough job to automate. Sure. That, and due to that, they’re additionally there, a few of laborious to seek out yep. Should be costly. Yep. Um,

Michael Fulton: it’s harmful too

Abate: and harmful.

Michael Fulton: Yeah. Individuals die yearly.

Abate: So that you don’t, you, we wish to do every thing you may to make that dive essentially the most environment friendly model of themselves doable.

Michael Fulton: And protected and, and simpler. Yeah. , it’s, it’s, it’s laborious, work. It, such as you mentioned, it’s laborious to seek out individuals who do that as a result of there’s a number of scuba dive licensed individuals, proper?

It’s a, it’s a standard pastime, however technical diving and diving for, for industrial functions. There’s not too lots of them on the market. There’s. I imply, [00:15:00] in, in, within the grand scheme of issues, you understand, it’s, it’s, it’s a rarer discipline and a lot necessary work is, is in there. Uh, there’s this quote, I actually. um, it’s a, I, I, I don’t know if it’s really, it’s attributed to Leonardo DaVinci water is the driving power of all life on our planet.

Mm-hmm I actually imagine that. Like, clearly there’s the, the scientific causes, you understand, photosynthesis, local weather local weather stuff, but additionally similar to a lot commerce is determined by ocean environments, the web. I imply, we now have cables underneath sea, all of these things. You want AUVs. There are some locations the place we wanna substitute divers with AUV’s.

However we actually wanna increase the divers who’re at the moment doing work underwater with AUVs, with these collaborative AUVs, partially since you’re proper. It’s gonna be a very long time earlier than they’re changed if ever it’s such a difficult discipline, but additionally personally, I’m, I, I actually like the thought of robots making individuals’s lives higher.

Mm-hmm and typically changing them in jobs is the best way in the direction of that. There are some jobs. So harmful, so uninteresting, so, so soiled that you simply don’t need anyone to do them, however there’s a variety of jobs the place like, individuals depend upon this for his or her livelihood. I don’t wanna substitute these individuals. I wanna make their lives simpler.

I wanna make their lives simpler and I wanna make it doable for them to do extra fascinating work. , there’s we take into consideration, we consider ourselves as such a complicated society, proper? Like we go to house, we go to Mars, a ridiculous quantity of our ocean is unexplored. We don’t understand how a lot of the life that exists in our ocean is. We don’t, we there’s a lot primary science there that’s undone as a result of the setting is so inhospitable.

You want air tanks, there’s strain concerns. There’s a most restrict you may dive to. So something that you simply’re doing underwater is mechanically 100 instances more durable, 100 instances extra pricey, extra effortful.

And that is the place AUVs, my advisor mentioned this actually, rather well within the session. So we wish to improve underwater divers by having underwater divers do the issues, AUVs can’t and having AUVs do the issues underwater divers can’t. Yeah, I feel that’s an ideal summation of the place this discipline is headed.

Superior. Thanks. Yeah, no drawback. Thanks for asking me.


tags: bio-inspired, c-Analysis-Innovation, cx-Analysis-Innovation, human-robot interplay, podcast, Service Skilled Underwater, software program, video

Abate De Mey
Founding father of Fluid Dev, Hiring Platform for Robotics

Abate De Mey
Founding father of Fluid Dev, Hiring Platform for Robotics


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