Seegrid Letterhead 64

Research Background

On February 20, 2003 Scott Friedman and I founded SEEGRID Corporation to commercialize the fruits of thirty years of work in robot perception and navigation.

After decades of commercial stagnation, robotics seems to be at a turning point. A half dozen companies have introduced small domestic robot vacuum cleaners, with sufficient market success to fuel the development of more advanced follow-ons. Hundreds of thousands of Sony's advanced AIBO robot pets have been sold despite their over $1000 price, enough to sustain the development of more advanced models, including humanoid robots. Meanwhile makers of industrial automatic guided vehicles and of industrial floor cleaning machines have begun to offer units that navigate using an onboard scanning laser rangefinder to construct floor-level maps of their routes. Other companies have demonstrated vehicles that determine their position with limited precision by tracking opportunistic distinctive visual features in the fields of view of onboard cameras.

Our work leapfrogs these early offerings by building dense realistic 3D maps of a vehicle's surroundings, suitable not only for simple position and obstacle finding, but also for safely exploring new routes and for recognizing large features such as walls, floors and doors as well as smaller objects including humans. Our methods can digest data from many different kinds of sensors, but in the near term simple cameras used in stereoscopic pairs are the most cost effective. We are ready for commercialization now in part because the considerable computational power required has arrived in inexpensive personal computers, and the cost continues to fall rapidly. Even so, our approach would not be feasible for many years yet without the large number of technical innovations we've accumulated in decades of research aimed squarely at this goal. Some of these are described in the technical reports linked at the right, others you'll be seeing in SEEGRID's products.

SEEGRID has devised near-term strategies for three industrial markets, transport, floor cleaning and security that avoid problems and limitations that have stalled robotics ventures there in the last decade. It helps that our technology enables things, like walk through installation, not possible before.

Hans Moravec, June 16, 2003
Commercialization Feeler   Sep 2002

1999-2002 DARPA-funded research

Report 6 (Higher fidelity)   Feb 2002
Report 5 (Trinocular run)   Jul 2001
Report 4 (Photorealism!?)   Mar 2001
Report 3 (Learning by coloring)   Jun 2000
Report 2 (Image rectification)   Jan 2000
Report 1 (Project overview)   Aug 1999
Proposal   Jan 1999

older technical reports

3D Spatial Perception   Sep 1996
Robot Evidence Grids   Mar 1996
Learning Sensor Models   1993
Grids for Sensor Fusion   1988
High Resolution Maps   1985
Stanford Cart, CMU Rover   1983
Cart Project Progress   1976
Visual Navigation   1974

Overview and interior view of a 3D map generated by SEEGRID programs using only stereoscopic camera views from a vehicle trip down the center of the L-shaped hallway.

3D evidence grid of hallway