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Welcome to the official page of Andrew Dobson, a post-doctoral researcher at UMich working with Dr. Dmitry Berenson.

Research Interests and Goals

My research focuses on the problem of automating recycling centers using teams of robot manipulators.  The objective is to create a flexible, provably efficient framework which can guarantee high throughput to reduce costs and make automated recycling economically sustainable.  Most all modern recycling centers use mechanical filters and sifters to sort out refuse, but there is generally still the need to have human workers manually picking and sorting to ensure proper separation of materials is achieved.  By fully automating the process, costs for these facilities can be reduced, making recycling a more economically feasible option.

In particular, my work explores the combinatoric aspects of using multiple arms to move objects from a starting configuration to a target location, which may require the robots to hand-off objects between each other.  Interesting problems not originally addressed in this work are avenues for future potential work, such as dealing with deformable objects, such as plastic bags and paper, as well as dealing with sensing or actuation uncertainty.

Setup for the recycling center where a team of robots are each responsible for a different type of refuse.
A team of robot manipulators works to sort out objects traveling down a conveyor belt.
Each robot is responsible for a different class of object (glass, paper, etc) and must hand objects off to appropriate neighbors.

Select Publications

My dissertation work was centrally focused on the following three publications:
My Ph.D. and Master's work also examined sparse planning representations, in great detail.  For a list of all publications up to Fall 2017, check the list of publications from my graduate lab.  My full CV can be found here.