Inferring 3D Shapes of Unknown Rigid Objects in Clutter Through Inverse Physics Reasoning

Changkyu Song, Abdeslam Boularias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


We present a probabilistic approach for building, on the fly, three dimensional (3D) models of unknown objects while being manipulated by a robot. We specifically consider manipulation tasks in piles of clutter that contain previously unseen objects. Most manipulation algorithms for performing such tasks require known geometric models of the objects in order to grasp or rearrange them robustly. One of the novel aspects of this work is the utilization of a physics engine for verifying hypothesized geometries in simulation. The evidence provided by physics simulations is used in a probabilistic framework that accounts for the fact that mechanical properties of the objects are uncertain. We present an efficient algorithm for inferring occluded parts of objects based on their observed motions and mutual interactions. Experiments using a robot show that this approach is efficient for constructing physically realistic 3D models, which can be useful for manipulation planning. Experiments also show that the proposed approach significantly outperforms alternative approaches in terms of shape accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8567926
Pages (from-to)201-208
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


  • RGB-D perception
  • computer vision for automation
  • perception for grasping and manipulation

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