Learning Audio Feedback for Estimating Amount and Flow of Granular Material

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Samuel Clarke, Travers Rhodes, Christopher G. Atkeson, Oliver Kroemer ;
Proceedings of The 2nd Conference on Robot Learning, PMLR 87:529-550, 2018.

Abstract

Granular materials produce audio-frequency mechanical vibrations in air and structures when manipulated. These vibrations correlate with both the nature of the events and the intrinsic properties of the materials producing them. We therefore propose learning to use audio-frequency vibrations from contact events to estimate the flow and amount of granular materials during scooping and pouring tasks. We evaluated multiple deep and shallow learning frameworks on a dataset of 13,750 shaking and pouring samples across five different granular materials. Our results indicate that audio is an informative sensor modality for accurately estimating flow and amounts, with a mean RMSE of 2.8g across the five materials for pouring. We also demonstrate how the learned networks can be used to pour a desired amount of material.

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