RBE PhD Dissertation Proposal : James Akl | Robot Autonomy for Metal Recycling

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RBE PhD Dissertation Proposal

James Akl

Robot Autonomy for Metal Recycling

Monday, March 27th

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Abstract: The earliest robotic systems targeted restricted tasks in highly-structured and quasi-static environments. With time, autonomous and intelligent agents grew in sophistication, striving towards difficult work in challenging settings. This is often achieved by integrating a variety of components and functions into a diverse cognitive architecture. In the same spirit, we propose and develop an automation framework to address the challenges, problems, and opportunities of the metal recycling industry. The aim is to endow robotic systems with task-specific autonomy against four main problems found in metal scrap cutting and recycling. These are: (1) Cutting path generation, using viewpoint planning and active perception; (2) Autonomous oxy-fuel cutting, using visual feedback for conditioning and control; (3) Cutting task validation, using learning-based inference via neural network models; and (4) Safe structural disassembly, using sequential decision planning. In this presentation, we formalize and discuss the design and evaluation of each of these functionalities. Additionally, we analyze the broader impacts of this research from a socio-technical, economic, and ethical perspective. Ultimately, while this proposed framework is tailored towards metal recycling, many of the components' underlying techniques may be applicable or transferable to tasks of similar nature. In effect, we demonstrate the leverage and flexibility of diverse component-based architectures for augmenting an agent’s capability, intelligence, and autonomy towards a particular goal.


Professor Berk Calli, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)


Professor  Nitin Sanket, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

Professor William Michalson, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

Professor Yunus Telliel, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)



Robotics Engineering