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  • ECE Seminar: Certifiable Outlier-Robust Geometric Perception: Robots that See through the Clutter with Confidence

    Mon, Feb 28, 2022 @ 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

    Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

    Conferences, Lectures, & Seminars

    Speaker: Heng Yang, Laboratory for Information & Decision Systems, Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT

    Talk Title: Certifiable Outlier-Robust Geometric Perception: Robots that See through the Clutter with Confidence

    Abstract: Geometric perception is the task of estimating geometric models (e.g., object pose and 3D structure) from sensor measurements and priors (e.g., point clouds and neural network detections). Geometric perception is a fundamental building block for robotics applications ranging from intelligent transportation to space autonomy. The ubiquitous existence of outliers -measurements that tell no or little information about the models to be estimated- makes it theoretically intractable to perform estimation with guaranteed optimality. Despite this theoretical intractability, safety-critical robotics applications still demand trustworthiness and performance guarantees on perception algorithms. In this talk, I present certifiable outlier-robust geometric perception, a new paradigm to design tractable algorithms that enjoy rigorous performance guarantees, i.e., they return an optimal estimate with a certificate of optimality for a majority of problem instances, but declare failure and provide a measure of suboptimality for worst-case instances. Particularly, I present two general-purpose algorithms in the certifiable perception toolbox: (i) an estimator that uses graph theory to prune gross outliers and leverages graduated non-convexity to compute the optimal model estimate with high probability of success, and (ii) a certifier that employs sparse semidefinite programming (SDP) relaxation and a novel SDP solver to endow the estimator with an optimality certificate or escape local minima otherwise. The estimator is fast and robust against up to 99% random outliers in practical perception applications, and the certifier can compute high-accuracy optimality certificates for large-scale problems beyond the reach of existing SDP solvers. I showcase certifiable outlier-robust perception on robotics applications such as scan matching, satellite pose estimation, and vehicle pose and shape estimation. I conclude by remarking three opportunities arising from certifiable perception: to speedup online global optimization by offline learning from data; to enable safe learning-based perception by bridging certifiable estimation with deep representation learning; and to couple and unify perception with action towards trustworthy autonomy.

    Biography: Heng Yang is a final-year Ph.D. candidate in the Laboratory for Information & Decision Systems and the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), working with Prof. Luca Carlone. He holds a B.S. degree from Tsinghua University and an S.M. degree from MIT, both in Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include large-scale convex optimization, semidefinite relaxation, robust estimation, and machine learning, applied to robotics and trustworthy autonomy. His work includes developing certifiable outlier-robust machine perception algorithms, large-scale semidefinite programming solvers, and self-supervised geometric perception frameworks. Heng Yang is a recipient of the Best Paper Award in Robot Vision at the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), a Best Paper Award Honorable Mention from the 2020 IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L), and a Best Paper Award Finalist at the 2021 Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) conference. He is a Class of 2021 RSS Pioneer.

    Host: Dr. Keith Chugg, chugg@usc.edu

    Webcast: https://usc.zoom.us/j/91553052387?pwd=V0NqTFNJMlBNZkxWVnVIQmYrVWtVQT09

    Location: Hughes Aircraft Electrical Engineering Center (EEB) - 248

    WebCast Link: https://usc.zoom.us/j/91553052387?pwd=V0NqTFNJMlBNZkxWVnVIQmYrVWtVQT09

    Audiences: Everyone Is Invited

    Contact: Mayumi Thrasher


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