For many service robots, reactivity to changes in their surroundings is a must. However, developing software suitable for dynamic environments is difficult. Existing robotic middleware allows engineers to design behavior graphs by organizing communication between components. But because these graphs are structurally inflexible, they hardly support the development of complex reactive behavior. To address this limitation, we propose Playful, a software platform that applies reactive programming to the specification of robotic behavior. The front-end of Playful is a scripting language which is simple (only five keywords), yet results in the runtime coordinated activation and deactivation of an arbitrary number of higher-level sensory-motor couplings. When using Playful, developers describe actions of various levels of abstraction via behaviors trees. During runtime an underlying engine applies a mixture of logical constructs to obtain the desired behavior. These constructs include conditional ruling, dynamic prioritization based on resources management and finite state machines. Playful has been successfully used to program an upper-torso humanoid manipulator to perform lively interaction with any human approaching it.
Biography: Dr. Vincent Berenz is scientific software engineer in the Autonomous Motion Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (Tübingen, Germany) since January 2015. He is in charge of overseeing the development of software related to robotic architecture and research projects.
Vincent received a Chemical Engineering degree from Ecole Superieure de Chimie Organique et Minerale (2001, France) and a Master of Business Engineering Bio-informatics from Ecole de Biologie Industrielle (2002, France). He worked as a software engineer at CEREP (USA and France) and Pharmadesign (Japan) from 2002 to 2006 and from 2006 to 2007, respectively. In 2012, he received his Ph.D. in Intelligent Interactions Technologies from the University of Tsukuba (Japan) under the supervision of Kenji Suzuki. In 2013 and 2014 he was a research scientist at RIKEN Brain Science Institute/Toyota Collaborative Center (Japan) and he remains a guest researcher of the RIKEN Intelligent Behavior Control Unit.