This technology can be used to map a robot’s environment and direct its attention.

The Sensory Ego-Sphere (SES) is a short-term memory for a robot in the form of an egocentric, tessellated, spherical, sensory-motor map of the robot’s locale. Visual attention enables fast alignment of overlapping images without warping or position optimization, since an attentional point (AP) on the composite typically corresponds to one on each of the collocated regions in the images. Such alignment speeds analysis of the multiple images of the area.

Compositing and attention were performed two ways and compared: (1) APs were computed directly on the composite and not on the full-resolution images until the time of retrieval; and (2) the attentional operator was applied to all incoming imagery. It was found that although the second method was slower, it produced consistent and, thereby, more useful APs.

The SES is an integral part of a control system that will enable a robot to learn new behaviors based on its previous experiences, and that will enable it to recombine its known behaviors in such a way as to solve related, but novel, task problems with apparent creativity. The approach is to combine sensorymotor data association and dimensionality reduction to learn navigation and manipulation tasks as sequences of basic behaviors that can be implemented with a small set of closed-loop controllers. Over time, the aggregate of behaviors and their transition probabilities form a stochastic network. Then given a task, the robot finds a path in the network that leads from its current state to the goal.

The SES provides a short-term memory for the cognitive functions of the robot, association of sensory and motor data via spatio-temporal coincidence, direction of the attention of the robot, navigation through spatial localization with respect to known or discovered landmarks, and structured data sharing between the robot and human team members, the individuals in multi-robot teams, or with a C3 center.

This work was done by Katherine Achim Fleming and Richard Alan Peters II of Vanderbilt University for Johnson Space Center.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Vanderbilt University, School of Engineering
Department of Electrical Engineering and
Computer Science
VU Station B 351824,
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235


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